June 12, 2014 - 12:05pm
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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 - 11:34am
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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 - 10:56am
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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 - 9:08am
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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
June 12, 2014 - 6:17am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
Dave Shedloski
Rickie Fowler -- like the late 1999 U.S. Open champ Payne Stewart -- is known for his wild outfits. On Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2, Fowler did his best to resemble and pay tribute to his favorite player.

Golf World Magazine contributor Dave Shedloski (@DaveShedloski) tweeted a cool picture of Rickie Fowler on the practice green this morning ahead of his first round at Pinehurst No. 2 in the U.S. Open.

Fowler -- a fashion icon to the younger generation of golf fans -- paid homage to another fashion icon in the late Payne Stewart, the 1999 U.S. Open champ.

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

Stewart was known for his clothes, which always included the Plus-4 knickers. With that, Fowler decided to emulate the same look Thursday, complete with the argyle socks.

"This week you can't help but think about Payne Stewart and his win at the '99 U.S. Open," said Fowler in a release sent out by COBRA PUMA Golf. "I thought wearing the knickers, a look he was so famous for, would be a nice way to honor and remember such a huge golf icon, and someone I've always admired and looked up to. He had such an impact on the game both on and off the course; always gracious, win or lose. We will all be thinking about him this week." 

Very cool gesture by Fowler.

Fowler sent out this tweet early Thursday:

 

Fowler pays tribute to Stewart
Jason Day and Sergio Garcia US Open golf bags
TaylorMade via Twitter
Jason Day and Sergio Garcia are just two of the TaylorMade players whose U.S. Open bags are celebrating Father's Day.

As has become a tradition, the U.S. Open ends on Father's Day again this year. And a few players have decorated their bags to mark the occasion.

Jason Day is a relatively new father, and he's got his almost-2-year-old son Dash's name embroidered onto the belly of his U.S. Open bag, as you can see in the photo above. 

Sergio Garcia has gone a step farther. He's got his dad Victor's name emblazoned on his bag – and he's festooned his bag in the colors of his native Spain to celebrate the World Cup.

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If you're looking for a common link between the two bags, it's that both are from TaylorMade. Day and Garcia are just two of the TaylorMade contingent at Pinehurst whose bags will honor fathers and sons this week. It'll be fun to keep an eye out and try to spot the others.

And no, if you're asking, that's not Jason in the photo of his bag above – he was actually standing off to the right when the shot was taken.

 

Fathers and sons honored on U.S. Open golf bags