June 14, 2014 - 7:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Martin Kaymer
USA Today Sports Images
Martin Kaymer will take a healthy lead into the final round of the U.S. Open. As history shows, though, his advantage isn't necessarily insurmountable -- at least not in this tournament.

If Martin Kaymer goes on to win the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday, he will become the seventh golfer to win the tournament wire-to-wire. Here's the list of wire-to-wire winners in the U.S. Open:

- 1914, Walter Hagen
- 1921, Jim Barnes
- 1953, Ben Hogan
- 1970, Tony Jacklin
- 2000 and 2002, Tiger Woods
- 2011, Rory McIlroy

Of the previous 113 U.S. Opens played, the 54-hole leader has gone on to win 47 times.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Complete U.S. Open coverage | Perry's eagle

Kaymer will take a five-stroke lead into the final round over Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler. Kaymer, the 2011 PGA Champion, shot a 2-over 72 in the third round and sits at 8-under 202 for the tournament.

Here's a look at the largest 54-hole leads in U.S. Open history:

10 -- Tiger Woods (205), Pebble Beach G.L., Pebble Beach, Calif., 2000
7 -- James Barnes (217), Columbia C.C., Chevy Chase, Md., 1921
6 -- Fred Herd (244), Myopia Hunt Club, S. Hamilton, Mass., 1898
6 -- Willie Anderson (225), Baltusrol G.C., Springfield, N.J., 1903
6 -- Johnny Goodman (211), North Shore G.C., Glenview, Ill., 1933

Each of the five players listed above went on to win the tournament.

With a victory, Kaymer would become the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same season. It would also mark the first time since Tom Kite turned the trick in 1992 that a player wins tournaments on both Mother's Day and Father's Day in the same year.

Should Kaymer be caught on Sunday, it wouldn't be the biggest comeback by a winner in U.S. Open history. That belongs to Arnold Palmer, who overcame a seven-shot deficit to win the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills.

Here's a list of other great comebacks by U.S. Open winners:

6 strokes -- Johnny Miller (71-69-76-63), Oakmont (Pa.) C.C., 1973
5 strokes -- Johnny Farrell (77-74-71-72), Olympia Fields (Ill.) C.C., 1928
5 strokes -- Byron Nelson (72-73-71-68), Philadephia C.C., West Conshohocken, Pa., 1939
5 strokes -- Lee Janzen (73-66-73-68), The Olympic Club, San Francisco, Calif., 1998
 

Putting Kaymer's lead in perspective
June 14, 2014 - 3:22pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Kenny Perry
USA Today Sports Images
Kenny Perry hit an amazing shot in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, holing out for eagle with a hybrid from a native area at Pinehurst No. 2.

There's no "rough" at Pinehurst No. 2 for the 114th U.S. Open this week (we're calling it "native area" instead), but it's hard to imagine one could hit a better shot than this one by Kenny Perry on Saturday in the third round at the 473-yard, par-4 14th:

What an eagle! With a hybrid from the native area no less.

Perry, 53, is the oldest player in the field this week. He's playing on an exemption that he earned by winning the 2013 U.S. Senior Open.

So far, that's the best shot of the tournament.

Incredible eagle hole-out for Kenny Perry with hybrid
Charl Schwartzel
USA Today Images
Charl Schwartzel asks for a ruling Thursday during U.S. Open play at Pinehurst No. 2.

The definition of a bunker has never been more important than it is this week at renovated Pinehurst No. 2, where native sandy areas and bunkers may look quite the same but have very different rules of play.

The decision to recreate Pinehurst No. 2 as it was originally intended – with native terrain surrounding the fairways instead of thick rough – posed some interesting rules predicaments for the officials governing this year's U.S. Open: What constitutes a bunker?

Why would that matter? Because you can't ground your club in a bunker, as Dustin Johnson learned the hard way in the final round of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He grounded his club, with the assumption that he was not in a bunker, and unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

GOLF BALL MIXUP: What's the rule when you hit the wrong ball?

So players this weekend at Pinehurst No. 2 are paying particular attention to any hazards on the course.

How will the rules committee handle this situation? Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee, said it could be as simple as labeling all raked sandy areas as bunkers – and all other areas off the fairway and green as "through the green."

"First, there's no such thing as waste areas or waste bunkers under the Rules," Jones said. "In the Rules, there are three key areas relevant to the hole being played: the teeing ground, the putting green and all hazards – which include bunkers and water hazards.

"All other areas – fairways, rough, trees, bushes, shrubs, sandy expanses – are lumped into the 'through the green' category. My guess is that TV needs to hang a name on everything and thus this 'waste area/bunker' came to life."

MORE RULES QUESTIONS: What do you do if your ball moves at address?

So unless the ball lands in an area designated as a hazard, in this case, a raked area of sand, Jones said players will be allowed to ground their club.

"If you hit it off the manicured grass at Pinehurst, you will be in the naturally existing conditions of the region," he said.

Just don't refer to it as a waste bunker.

 

Bunker or native terrain? Check the rules
June 14, 2014 - 12:57pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Miguel Angel Jimenez
Twitter/@missyjonjones
Unfortunately for all of us, the most interesting man in golf -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- missed the cut at the U.S. Open. But he was at Pinehurst No. 2 on Saturday doing some shopping.

Unfortunately for all of us, the most interesting man in golf -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- missed the cut at the U.S. Open.

However, he was still there on Saturday, checking out the merchandise tent and, apparently, doing some shopping.

Here's a photo that was captured of Jimenez shopping for some Pinehurst No. 2 gear: 

Jimenez goes shopping at Pinehurst No. 2
June 14, 2014 - 11:20am
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Hunter Mahan
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Hunter Mahan accidentally hit Jamie Donaldson's ball during Friday's round of the U.S. Open.

Every amateur has probably had that "whoops" moment when they suddenly realize the ball they just hit isn't theirs. But for it to happen on a stage like the second round of the U.S. Open? That's pretty unusual.

But that's exactly what happened Friday to Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson during the second round at Pinehurst No. 2. They use the same brand of ball, and mark their balls in similar fashion. So despite having the assistance of caddies and marshals, they still committed the cardinal sin of playing the wrong ball.

GOLF BALL MIXUP: Mahan, Donaldson penalized for playing wrong balls

So what's the rule -- and the penalty -- for playing the wrong ball? It falls under Rule 15-3b, according to Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee. Here's the official definition:

"If a competitor makes a stroke or strokes at a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes.

The competitor must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball or by proceeding under the Rules. If he fails to correct his mistake before making a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, fails to declare his intention to correct his mistake before leaving the putting green, he is disqualified.

Strokes made by a competitor with a wrong ball do not count in his score. If the wrong ball belongs to another competitor, its owner must place a ball on the spot from which the wrong ball was first played."

MORE RULES QUESTIONS: What do you do if your ball moves at address?

In the case of Mahan and Donaldson, they realized their mistake once they reached the green, so they were able to go back and play the correct ball from the fairway, albeit after taking a two-stroke penalty.

"In stroke play, the concept is to play your ball from the teeing ground into the hole and you can only switch balls as permitted by the Rules," Jones said. "Examples are if you lose your ball, hit it into the water or it becomes unfit for play, then you may substitute a ball. If a wrong ball is played, the player must correct the error by playing the correct ball.

"Since Hunter and Jamie played each other's balls, each was guilty of playing a wrong ball, each needed to add two penalty strokes to their score on the hole and each of them was required to play the correct ball from the correct spot. The stroke played with the wrong ball did not count in Hunter or Jamie's score."

Interestingly enough, Jones said Rule 12-2 -- which allows a player to lift his ball for identification -- might have saved both players the indignity.

"I did not see the incident so I do not know if the balls were close together but the incident highlights another important Rule, Rule 12-2," Jones said. "This Rule allows a player to lift his ball (with a few procedural requirements) anywhere on the golf course.

"Why does Rule 12-2 exist? To help players avoid a wrong ball penalty. Pretty sure Hunter and Jamie regret not implementing it."

Unfortunately, the gaffe may have cost Mahan a shot at making the cut. With the penalty, he finished with a 72, one shot shy of playing on the weekend.

 

 

 

Rules for hitting the wrong ball
Frann Quinn and Kevin Kisner at the U.S. Open
USA Today Sports Images
Fran Quinn (l) will get two more rounds with his son on the bag this weekend, while Kevin Kisner hired his father temporarily on Friday at the U.S. Open.

Father's Day isn't until Sunday, but Kevin Kisner and his dad Steve made a little father-son memory on Friday.

Kisner was 8 over and certain to miss the cut in his first U.S. Open when he arrived at No 16, and a double bogey there convinced him to send his regular caddie Duane Bock into the crowd and turn the bib over to his dad for the final few holes.

"At first I was a little concerned about interfering with the group," Steve Kisner said. "One of the guys still had a chance to make the cut and I didn't want to change the flow. But Kevin insisted, and once he insisted I was glad to do it." 

Steve Kisner has caddied for his son a few dozen times before, most recently at a mini-tour event. And the reason for his reluctance initially might have been about more than just bothering the other players.

"You weren't drinking a beer or anything out there, were you?" a reporter asked. 

"Actually I had a couple out there," he admitted. "So I might be a good interview." 

U.S. OPEN: Follow all the action from Pinehurst with our special coverage 

Telling a good story apparently runs in the family. Kevin Kisner and wife Brittany had their first child Monday, leaving Kevin just enough time to drive over from Aiken, South Carolina, and get in a few practice holes. Whatever free time he gained by missing the weekend play at Pinehurst will be devoted to looking after his new daughter – and Steve's fifth grandchild – Kate.  

"Changing diapers before you came here?" someone asked.  

"I got one in and that's it," Kevin Kisner said. "But I'm sure I'm going to get a lot more tonight."  

"Are you pretty good?" came another follow-up.  

"I'm not real sure," Kevin Kisner replied, "but we'll find out."  

Fran Quinn, meanwhile, will get to spend some quality time with his son this weekend. The 49-year-old Web.com Tour player followed his opening 68 with a 74 that left him 2 over and easily inside the cut.

That means he'll get to play two more rounds with 15-year-old son Owen as his caddie. 

"It's the U.S. Open. You go out there ... all the stands are packed, people are cheering for you," Quinn said. "People are rooting for you. People love the story. And, you know, it's pretty neat to see a father playing with his son caddying on the bag on Father's Day weekend." 

The Associated Press contributed this report.

 
Father's Day memories for Quinns and Kisners at the U.S. Open