June 13, 2014 - 9:18am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
USA Today Sports Images
On Day 1 of the U.S. Open, Rickie Fowler dominated the social chatter thanks to his choice of attire, as he paid tribute to the late Payne Stewart.

Rickie Fowler may have shot even par Thursday at Pinehurst, but he was a clear leader in the social conversation.

The avid Tweeter and Instagrammer was mentioned 2,624 times from midnight to 10 p.m. on the first round of play, thanks to his choice or attire, which honored the late Payne Stewart, who won here in 1999. PGA.com tracks the social chatter on its own Social Caddy, a U.S. Open leaderboard feature that is essentially a social listening product that actively scans chatter around the majors.

The technology looks at names, pictures, hashtags and quotes, and identifies trends in how people are communicating about players and the event. Player to Player communication is given special attention, as it usually spawns a trend of user activity on Twitter. At the end, we're able to get a really good look at the event and how people at home talk about it.

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In the 9 o'clock hour on Thursday -- presumably once everyone settled into their office and got behind their computers -- Fowler's name was mentioned 488 times on the Social Caddy.

As a nod to Stewart, who died in a tragic plane accident four months after his win, Fowler wore the plus-4 knickers during Round 1 that Stewart made famous.

"What's really neat for users is when something happens that doesn't make it on air, but it appears on Social Caddy, in which your curiosity takes over and you find out what it is," said Rob Smith, Sr. Product Manager at PGA.com. "Henrik Stenson getting on the par-5 13th hole in two at Oak Hill during the 2013 PGA Championship was one of those events. Steven Bowditch's first PGA Tour win at the Valero was another, in which all sorts of local stats poured in after his victory."

Thursday's big Fowler bump started when the official Twitter account of Pinehurst Resort tweeted out this picture of Fowler on the practice green:

 

 

Fowler sent out this tweet just before the picture was taken:

 

 

Phil Mickelson had been the most talked about player going into Round 1. He finished runner up to Stewart in the 1999 U.S. Open -- the first of a record six runner-up finishes in the national championship. Should Mickelson win this week, he would complete the career grand slam.

Here's a look at the top 10 mentions Thursday, according to Social Caddy:

1. Rickie Fowler -- 2,624
2. Phil Mickelson -- 1,541
3. Martin Kaymer -- 1,005
4. Jordan Spieth -- 779
5. Rory McIlroy -- 591
6. Justin Rose -- 439
7. Bubba Watson -- 417
8. Graeme McDowell -- 406
9. Adam Scott -- 386
10. Keegan Bradley -- 363

Rickie Fowler leads social chatter
June 12, 2014 - 1:47pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Matt Every
GolfChannel.com
During the first round of the U.S. Open, Matt Every had a par putt hang up on the lip at the 16th hole. It took a while, but the ball finally disappeared.

Golf can be cruel.

Like when you're Matt Every playing in the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and you're faced with a par putt from about 20 feet on the par-4 16th hole.

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The guy hit a beautiful putt, but the ball hit the breaks right on the edge of the cup.

For a few seconds anyway...

 

 

Sweet par, but Every has work to do Friday to make the cut after opening with a 6-over 76. 

This whole "hanging on the lip/wait to see if it drops" thing happens more often than you might think. In fact, it happened to Scott Langley just two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament.

The official rule involved, according to the report from our own Mark Aumann, is Rule 16-2. Here's how it reads:
 
"When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule."

 

Eight seconds later, Every's par-putt drops
June 12, 2014 - 1:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Matthew Fitzpatrick
USA Today Sports Images
Amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick called a penalty on himself Thursday for making contact with his golf ball after addressing it.

Golf is a game based on honesty and integrity.

Reigning U.S. Amateur champ Matthew Fitzpatrick -- paired with 2013 U.S. Open champ Justin Rose and 2013 British Open champ Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds at Pinehurst No. 2 -- proved that on Thursday at the 114th U.S. Open.

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Behind the green in two shots at the par-4 eighth hole -- his 17th hole of the day -- Fitzpatrick prepared to play a chip shot onto the green for his third shot.

However, Fitzpatrick accidentally made contact with his golf ball at address. It barely moved.

Fitzpatrick called in a rules official and explained that he caused the ball to move. He then marked the ball, returned it to its original position and took a one-stroke penalty for the infraction under Rule 18-2b, which states:

If a player's ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.

The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.

Exception: If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply.

From there, Fitzpatrick got up and down for a spectacular bogey.

He then parred his final hole for an opening 1-over 71. 

Fitzpatrick calls penalty on self for moving ball
June 12, 2014 - 12:34pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
Phil Mickelson has a thing for wowing us with flop shots. On Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, he did it again.

As we all know, Phil Mickelson has a thing for hitting flop shots -- he hit a crazy one just last week in Memphis.

Today, Lefty did it again.

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Playing the par-4 third hole at Pinehurst No. 2 in the first round of the U.S. Open, Mickelson was just right of the green with a tight lie after his approach shot.

After surveying his options, Mickelson -- who, with a win this week would complete the career grand slam -- proceeded to do this:

 

 

Then he made the putt for a routine par.

Mickelson is the fan-favorite this week at Pinehurst, where he finished second to Payne Stewart in 1999.

Remember when he did this to Callaway Golf's Roger Cleveland? A flop-shot over the head.

 

 

Incredible. 

The flop shot isn't exactly easy to hit. Like Mickelson, you've got to have supreme confidence in your abilities. If you'd like to work on it, check out this instructional video by PGA Professional Brian Manzella, who demonstrates how to position your body -- and club -- to play the shot:

Mickelson hits terrific flop shot
June 12, 2014 - 11:56am
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T.J. Auclair
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Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods
USA Today Images
Tiger Woods isn't playing in the U.S. Open this week, but one rumor suggests it doesn't mean he won't be at Pinehurst No. 2 spectating with NBA legend Michael Jordan.

If rumors are true, Pinehurst No. 2 might have some pretty famous spectators on hand for the 114th U.S. Open this week.

George Willis, a columnist for the New York Post, tweeted this on Wednesday:

 

 

Can you imagine Tiger Woods at a U.S. Open that he's not playing in? I can't. Michael Jordan shouldn't be too much of a surprise. He's a well-documented golf fan and has attended many big-time tournaments. He's a regular at the Ryder Cup.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Complete U.S. Open coverage

If this does come to fruition... they're going to have to be allowed inside the ropes, right?

We'll keep you posted on any developments. 

Rumor: Woods, Jordan to attend U.S. Open together
June 12, 2014 - 10:08am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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golf, instruction, U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2
PGA.com
Hybrids and fairway woods around the greens -- instead of wedges -- will be a common theme this week at the U.S. Open.

We're only a few hours into the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and there have already been a number of players electing to use a hybrid or fairway wood near the greens instead of a wedge.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Complete U.S. Open coverage

Do you know how to play the shot? The goal is to keep the ball low to the ground and rolling for better control. That's essential on tightly-mown areas and lightening-fast greens.

In this instructional video, PGA Teaching Professional Mark Sheftic from Merion Golf Club -- site of the 2013 U.S. Open -- demonstrates how to utilize a hybrid in your short game:

 

 

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Players getting creative around Pinehurst greens