McIlroy Retools Swing After U.S. Open Missed Cut, Shoots 64

Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson leading understandably led Mike McAllister's PGATour.com roundup of day one at the Travelers, but one back is Rory McIlroy.

It seems the lad spent his post-U.S. Open performance further refining his seemingly-great swing to get back to a certain year, enabling him to work the ball both ways.

From an unbylined Reuters report:

“I’m trying to get back to the way I swung in 2010, 2011 and it’s sort of hard because my body’s changed quite a bit since then,” the 29-year-old, whose muscular frame now is a far cry from the scrawny teenager of days gone by, told reporters. 

“The feeling I have now is the feeling I had in the middle of 2009. 

“That’s basically what I did over the weekend. I got a feeling that really resonated and brought me back to a time when I was swinging really well, and sort of went with that feeling."

Okay so it's like 2009-11, but still fascinating that he'd drifted that far from his swing of seven years ago and that he could get it back in a weekend. 

Roundup: Peter Thomson Remembered

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The remembrances are pouring in for Australia's greatest golfer and global golf ambassador emeritus Peter Thomson.

The New York Times obituary by Richard Goldstein. 

The Guardian's version by Peter Mason.

Golf History Today has put together a nice roundup page of some insights into the man and online videos.

Jerry Tarde remembers a longtime Golf Digest contributor, including this:

Over lunch at our offices in Connecticut, I once asked him about Jack Nicklaus’ design work. “Nicklaus courses are like Jack himself—grim and humorless, with sharp edges,” he said.

Martin Blake files a wonderful Australian perspective. This was one of many special anecdotes:

Momentarily he worked a day job in the AG Spalding factory in Melbourne, testing golf balls and promoting the product. But it did not last for too long and in any case, he was finding places to play around the world, notably on the bouncy, wind-swept courses of Britain. “I liked playing on a course where the ball bounces. As time went by, I found I had an advantage. Somehow, I comprehended that style of play, watching the ball bounce forward. But I had to learn both, frankly – bouncing and non-bouncing.’’

John Hopkins had several memories in this Global Golf Post quick take, but this was just extra special and spoke to the man after his playing prime (at least until Senior Tour golf):

A few years later another image of Peter Thomson formed in my mind. Covering Opens in the late ’60s and early ’70s, I would be sitting at my desk when Peter would stroll in to the media centre, possibly still in his golf clothes with a sweater placed jauntily over his shoulders and carrying a portable typewriter. He would settle himself at a desk and bash out 800 words about his play and that of others in that day’s Open Championship and get them transmitted to The Age, the newspaper in his native Melbourne, Australia, or so I believe. 

John Strege on how Thomson kept the golf swing very simple and shared his philosophy.

Mike Clayton says Thomson left the game in a better place in this Golf Australia piece.

In a special State of the Game, Rod Morri talks to Clayton about Thomson's life and his memories of the five-time Open Champion:

A lovely PGA of Australia tribute:

Haven't We Seen All Of This Before? The Living Brand's Body Issue Shoot Surfaces And Greg Norman Has Never Looked Happier

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Honestly have you ever seen the Great White Shark--aka the Living Brand--happier?

Sam Weinman with behind the scenes shots from Eric Lutzens in advance of the ESPN The Magazine issue including the 62-year-old retired pro golfer. 

Eamon Lynch put this into historical context, reminding us that Old Tom Morris once posed for a similar shoot after his infamous morning swims in the North Sea.

"No one talks about karma. And no one talks about the Curse of Shinnecock Hills"

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Move over Chief Leatherlips. Some believe there is a Curse of Shinnecock Hills and writer Bruce Buschel makes his case in the East Hampton Star.

He shares several anecdotes about the back and forth between the USGA and the Shinnecock, who did receive some last minute concessions including a USGA pledge for a golf facility to be built on their land.

It seems there were also discussions about the 2018 U.S. Open logo which, to people of a certain generation, is already looking like a relic from a different world. 

It’s insulting — it’s a cartoon Indian with a big hook nose wearing a war bonnet festooned with an arrow and a putter. Like a kindergarten coloring book circa 1955. So the tribe requested a redesign or a flat-out removal. They got neither. Shinnecocks don’t have much luck when negotiating with the white man, not here, there, or anywhere. 

Buschel's case for a curse in light of another wacky U.S. Open at Shinnecock, proves more interesting given his rationale for the uneventful Opens there. You'll have to hit the link to read them all in context.

He sums up his case this way:

The Shinnecocks take no glee in the public disasters that have befallen Shinnecock Hills since the tribe was excommunicated, since the indigenous people were removed as caretakers of their own land.

No one talks about karma. And no one talks about the Curse of Shinnecock Hills.

Someone should.

PGA Tour Players Unleash On USGA

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Pro golfers have long howled about the USGA and U.S. Open setup, traffic, hotels and other perceived slights, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

That said, coupled with declining ratings, the end of a sellout streak in a year when ticket sales were limited and another U.S. Open where the champion as only part of the story, and you have major perception issues for our national Open.

Brian Wacker quotes many players for GolfDigest.com and the themes generally revolve around course setup, Mike Davis and a general disdain for the USGA.

The two most damaging quotes come from a pair of former U.S. Open winners, Geoff Ogilvy and Jordan Spieth.

Ogilvy:

“Did anyone ever trust them?” reasoned 2006 U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy. “I think for the most part their intentions are sound, there’s some pretty good golf minds there, but they just can’t get out of their own way. You never have a U.S. Open where they’re not the story. Augusta is never the story of the Masters -- this year Patrick Reed was the story of the Masters. It has nothing to do with Augusta. It’s never the R&A, never the PGA Tour, never the PGA of America.”

Spieth:

“I think it was chasing score to par,” said Jordan Spieth, who won at Chambers Bay three years ago. “We had beautiful conditions with wide fairways so how they are going to get the score to par it’s going to become unfair with greens or pin positions or a combination of the two. They put pins where greens weren’t designed that way. As a golf course design nerd it was frustrating to look at. I was like what are you doing? I played poorly. Even with the setup, I thought it was fantastic for me but the course nerd in me was like I want to play this course at a different time.”

R.I.P. Hubert Green

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The two-time major winner and 19-time PGA Tour winner passed away from throat cancer. He was 71.

His My Shot with Golf Digest's Guy Yocom is a great summary of his career and memories, including his near-Masters win.

He's best remembered for his U.S. Open win at Southern Hills, played under a death threat. The USGA's highlight film from that win:

Green's 2007 World Golf Hall of Fame Speech:

Instagram: Thomson Through The Years, A Vermeer PGA Club Pro Win, Roses At Ascot, Burrowing Bunker Turtle

The PGA Tour account salutes the late Peter Thomson with several images from his career.

Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Club Pro Championship at Fort Ord's Bayonet course. 

Our 2018 Champion. Congrats, Ryan Vermeer! #pgaprochamp

A post shared by PGA (@pga) on

Justin and Kate Rose are part owners of Master Merion, who ran 12th in a field of 30 in Royal Ascot's Royal Hunt Cup.

#team🌹 ready for @ascotracecourse 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

A post shared by Justin Rose (@justinprose99) on

Cristie Kerr spotted this burrowing turtle while preparing for the Walmart NW Championship.

Coul Links Plans Passed, Coore And Crenshaw Design Near Dornoch To Proceed

 Coul Links site, courtesy of  Instagram

Coul Links site, courtesy of Instagram

Great news from Scotland! For Immediate Release:

COUL LINKS PLANS PASSED BY COUNCILLORS

Plans for a world class golf course which will give a major economic stimulus to the north of Scotland have been given the go-ahead after councillors reiterated their overwhelming support for the project today.

The Coul Links development, proposed for a site near Embo in Sutherland, was passed at a special meeting of Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee. 

At a previous hearing on 5 June councillors spoke in favour of the project but deferred a final decision to allow the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to comment on a last-minute objection.

However, SEPA maintained its previous position not to object to the application. Scottish Natural Heritage had previously indicated it had withdrawn all but one narrow objection to the plan.

In making their decision, the committee recognised the significant economic benefits the course will bring to east Sutherland and that extensive mitigation measures will be put in place to protect the environment.

Links developer Todd Warnock said after today’s meeting: “After more than three years of thorough consideration of the project, we are excited to win such overwhelming support from the committee.

“The development has been comprehensively and fairly assessed by the two statutory bodies as well as the competent planning authority and we now look forward to bringing to Scotland the economic benefits of such a prestigious golf course.

“This major investment in a relatively remote part of the country has the significant support of local people and we thank them again for their help and encouragement.

“I would also encourage opponents of the golf course to now work with us to make the project a huge success. The evidence is compelling that Coul Links will improve the site ecologically, particularly with regard to bird life, and we will continue to strive to ensure the development progresses with environmental integrity at its heart.

“In summary, its seems there are four conclusions that are undeniable. First, a world class links course near Dornoch would prove economically transformational, perhaps creating the Highlands as the third major golf destination in Scotland.

“Second, Coul Links is an extraordinary site ecologically and our plans will improve it. We will disturb 13.4 hectares of dune habitat, but we will improve 20 hectares and provide a site management plan in perpetuity.

“The people in the community of Embo have spoken confidently with their outstanding support. We are humbled and thankful to be their neighbours and partners.

“Third, after three exhaustive years, virtually everyone in the Highlands wants this project completed. Yes, there are objectors with legitimate concerns, and we respect them but make no doubt the voice of the people has been heard.

“Finally, there is a process by which these decisions are made in a democracy. Statutory bodies with unbiased expertise are empowered to protect our collective interest. Other than a single narrow objection from SNH, they are not opposed.

“The elected competent authority, Highland Council’s planning committee, represent the people. We are humbled, thankful and honoured by their thoughtful deliberation and considered approval today.

“It’s now time to build a golf course.” 

PGA Tour Adds Facebook Watch Streaming For Weekend Featured Groups

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It would appear the more significant development here is another effort on top of its Twitter pre-PGA Tour live coverage to add a streaming option. I'm not sure how many weekend early featured groups are of note, but the PGA Tour is certainly going hard at streaming options...excuse me, emerging media platforms. 

For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR partners with Facebook to stream
60+ hours of exclusive live coverage across eight events

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – The PGA TOUR has announced an agreement with Facebook to distribute exclusive Saturday and Sunday live competition coverage, on a free basis, from eight tournaments leading into the FedExCup Playoffs for the 2017-18 season.  Airing on Facebook Watch in the United States, the coverage will be produced under the PGA TOUR LIVE brand and, similar to the TOUR’s subscription OTT service, will follow two featured groups that tee off in the morning of the third and final rounds. The PGA TOUR will uniquely produce this coverage for Facebook’s social video platform, with interactive elements aimed to engage fans. For example, the coverage will incorporate fan questions and comments.

Oh those will be rich with insight.

“We are thrilled to add Facebook to an already impressive lineup of global digital and broadcast partners,” said Chris Wandell, VP Media Business Development of the PGA TOUR. “The PGA TOUR has put a premium on distributing exclusive content on emerging media platforms with a goal of reaching new and diverse audiences.”

The Facebook Watch coverage will begin at the Travelers Championship on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24. The remaining events in 2018 include: Quicken Loans National; A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier; John Deere Classic; RBC Canadian Open; World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational; Wyndham Championship; and THE NORTHERN TRUST.

“No matter if it's a weekend foursome or water-cooler conversation about a top moment on TOUR, golf brings people together,” said Devi Mahadevia, Facebook’s North America Live Sports Programming Lead. “So we're delighted to partner with the PGA TOUR to help it reach new fans and deliver interactive, live coverage on Facebook that taps into the social nature of the sport.”

Got all the buzzwords in there but Netflix and chill.

The Facebook Watch-exclusive coverage window will begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday of each event and will conclude when Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage begins.  Following the featured group coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE Featured Holes coverage will be streamed globally on a non-exclusive basis on Facebook. To watch PGA TOUR’s coverage on Facebook, users can follow the PGA TOUR LIVE show Page at www.facebook.com/pgatourlive.

The agreement also calls for a range of on-demand programming, including tournament previews, round recaps and extended player highlights – all of which will be available in the United States on Facebook Watch and globally via the PGA TOUR LIVE show Page.

In May, the PGA TOUR and Facebook teamed up to stream 30+ hours of live coverage from THE PLAYERS Championship.

The trailer:

Now That We Have Phil's Statement We Can Move Along, But First...

Phil Mickelson, a tad late in summing up his 13th green boondoggle at the 2018 U.S. Open, but better late than never:

“I know this should've come sooner, but it's taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I'm embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

So in review: 

(A) he was not forced into his behavior

(B) it was not that funny

(C) it was potentially legacy-tainting

(D) there is no need for detractors to toughen up

(E) this was a disastrous look for someone with an untarnished track record of playing by the Rules of Golf

(F) the USGA will still not condemn his actions for reasons unknown

(G) children, don't try this at home

Jason Day Finds Phil's U.S. Open Antics Disappointing, Spieth Finds It Really Funny

Will Gray's Travelers report on  Jason Day's views of the U.S. Open and Phil Mickelson's 13th green meltdown.

“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

And from Dylan Dethier's Golf.com item on Jordan Spieth's Travelers Championship press conference where the defending champ commented on Mickelson's antics.

"I laughed, I thought it was really funny," he said. In the aftermath of the incident, much was made about Mickelson's intent, but count Spieth among those who believes Mickelson's explanation that there was a strategic element to the decision. "Phil knows the rules," he said. "There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he's got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what's the harm in that? He's playing the best score he can."

Fascinating to admire someone for using a technicality to get out of taking personal responsibility for a really bad putt. But this is where we are in the game. 

R.I.P. Peter Thomson

The Sydney Morning Herald's story.

And this from Golf Australia, with more remembrances of the five-time Open Champion, architect, writer, global ambassador and World Golf Hall of Famer coming soon. 

The family of Australian golfing great Peter Thomson announce his passing on Wednesday 20 June 2018.

He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and lost his brave battle at home in Melbourne surrounded by family at 9.00 a.m. Born on 23 August 1929, he was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win the British Open went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equalled in the 20th and 21st Centuries only by American Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit, he won nine times in 1985, setting a record that may never be broken. As well as a great player he was an outstanding contributor to the game, serving as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organisation where he was chairman for five years. He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service. 

Peter is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

They ask for privacy in their bereavement and will announce funeral arrangements in the next few days.

Two films of Thomson Open wins:

"Golfer Phil Mickelson Invests in Robot-Delivered Food"

I'm not sure this was the best-timed news release I've ever seen given the weekend's events, the quotes and the job-killing passion behind the venture. But, it's Phil!

Golfer Phil Mickelson Invests in Robot-Delivered Food

Geration NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. announced that its flagship subsidiary, Reis & Irvy’s, has inked a deal with five-time major championship golfer and World Golf Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson, and his career-long business manager and business partner, Steve Loy, for 30 new Reis & Irvy’s locations to be installed throughout San Diego County (where Phil is a native and resides with his family).

Reis & Irvy’s-branded signature robot characters of the same name can dispense servings of frozen yogurt, ice cream, gelatos and sorbet topped with a selection of six delicious toppings in under 60 seconds. With self-checkout touch screen ordering and payment options, video animation, music and delicious frozen dessert provided exclusively by Dannon, robot vendors meet consumer demand for convenience, entertainment and a superior quality product.  

Phil Mickelson and Steve Loy continue to expand upon their business portfolio with the investment in Reis & Irvy’s that is challenging the status quo in food retail by catering to this generation’s expectations of immersive, entertaining and on-demand shopping experiences.  “We have seen the development of Reis and Irvy’s over the last eight months and became intrigued with the advancement and benefits of robotics which enhance the delivery of quality products to the consumer while reducing overhead cost,” says Steve Loy.

People are expensive! Right Phil?

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of such transformative industry change,” says Mickelson. “I’ve pushed boundaries my whole career and that mindset carries over into the business world. The energy and passion from the Generation NEXT team to both deliver a quality product and disrupt food retail is exciting.”

Like disrupting the spirit of the rules because you hit a (really) bad putt.

Describing “the new arms race in retail,” John Bird of Forbes wrote that “unattended retail storefronts”—with their speed, flexibility and improved customer experience — are the future of retail. Brands like McDonald’s are successfully innovating their customer experience and “it will change forever the landscape” of casual dining, with “Gen-Xers, millennials, and successive generations already used to a computer interface for making most of their daily choices.”

With over $130 million in franchise and licensing contracts, Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. is leading the way with frozen desserts, fully autonomous robotic delivery, visual and audio entertainment, and a unique retail experience.

"For the season, the U.S. Open...ranks behind the final rounds at Tampa Bay and the Players"

Paulsen follows up with a few more numbers putting the U.S. Open's ratings decline into perspective. From Sports Media Watch:

The past five years have produced the five lowest final round ratings on record. Until 2014, the record-low was a 4.5 rating. Since, ratings have not exceeded a 4.2.

The reasons for that will range from declining ratings in all sports, to additional telecast time to a general reduced interest in the U.S. Open. (The championship's sellout streak is also over despite a limit of 30,000 tickets a day.) 

Then there is this:

For the season, the U.S. Open not only trails the third and final rounds of the Masters, but also ranks behind the final rounds at Tampa Bay (4.4, 6.9M) and the Players Championship (3.6, 5.8M).

Finishing behind Tampa Bay, even with Tiger, is astounding especially given the packed leaderboard heading into Sunday. 

Paulsen also reports an additional 36,000 viewers streamed the final round on Fox Sports GO.

Yep, streaming has arrived!

With Lack Of Action On Levy, PGA Of America Leadership Doesn't Care About Credibility

Here is Mike Purkey writing for MorningRead.com on Paul Levy's DUI as the PGA Club Pro Championship plays out in the president's home state.

As the same organization that booted Ted Bishop for calling Ian Poulter a "lil girl" on social media, just a sad state of affairs that they will stand by someone committing a far greater offense, especially as the arrest report noted damage done by Levy's crash into a sign that could have been a human life.

Purkey writes this strong statement:

By leaving Levy in office, the PGA sends the message to its 29,000 members that the organization’s leadership doesn’t care about the optics of this issue or the credibility of the PGA of America.

Ratings: Fox Up All Four Days Of 2018 U.S. Open Coverage, Still At Historic Lows

Good news! U.S. Open ratings were up all four days. 

Bad news: once the second-highest rated tournament of the year continued an eye-opening downward trend since Martin Kaymer's runaway at Pinehurst, reports Paulsen at Sports Media Watch.  A 3.6 overnight for the final round--an hour longer telecast window than in the NBC days--was up from last year's 3.5 rating for Brooks Koepka's 2017 win.

This year was the fourth of the past five in which final round coverage had less than a 4.0 overnight. From 1989-2013, the final round had at least a 5.0 each year. That 25-year run included a 6.1 five years ago and an 8.5 ten years ago (when Tiger Woods won in a playoff).

Certainly the extra length of the Fox telecasts softens the number, but with only World Cup as sports-viewing competition in the United States, the USGA has not seen audience growth with their move to Fox and faces the possibility of being the least-watched of the four majors again in 2018.

From FoxPR: 

For the opening round featuring Tiger Woods, Fox registered a 3-year high for its network coverage Thursday:

Fox U.S. Open Golf – Thursday First Round (S) (Fox, 4:30 PM, 191 min.)

• 2.149 million viewers
• 1.5/4 HH
• 0.4/3 A18-49 (0.2/2 F18-49, 0.5/5 M18-49)
• 0.3/3 A18-34 (0.1/1 F18-34, 0.4/4 M18-34)
• 0.5/3 A25-54 (0.3/2 F25-54, 0.7/5 M25-54)

Meanwhile Saturday's Live From The U.S. Open drew it's largest audience in seven years on the back of Phil Mickelson's dust-up at 13 and the greens getting away from the USGA, registering a .23 for Golf Channel.

The Growing Schism Between Players And The USGA

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There has long been an entertaining tug of war between the USGA and players over course setup, rules interpretation and other first world matters, but as Will Gray writes (and documents with Tweets) the post-Shinnecock fallout suggests a deep schism. One that may undermine anything the USGA does involving professional golfers. (Eh em...distance, new rules, etc...)

This from Pat Perez is hardly shocking, but as Gray's story notes, fairly consistent with what many players think.

“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”

The Live From guys also spoke out and scored points the USGA will need to rebut post-Shinnecock:

Phil Mickelson Roundup And Poll: Etiquette Breach DQ Or No DQ?

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We are a couple of days removed from Phil Mickelson's U.S. Open outburst and its not aging well, nor is the USGA's timid response earning raves either.  I hate belaboring this as a Phil fan but the reaction to this incident mirrors a disturbing justification for rules bending we've seen with the backstopping nonsense. 

In Mickelson's case, the media and former player reactions have been harsh. 

Having had a chance to do some reading, here's a presentation of just some reactions to Mickelson striking a moving ball in what he claimed was his intent to take advantage of the rules after hitting an awful putt. I present this with a poll awaiting at the end asking a very simple question.

The USGA "clarified" confusion over the Phil Mickelson situation Sunday, as Jeff Williams notes for Newsday. The statement ignored the serious breach of etiquette talk you hear from former players appalled by Mickelson's actions, starting with Paul Azinger to start Sunday's Fox broadcast. 

And to be clear: The USGA took a rain check at every opportunity to slap Phil with a line about not finding his antics to be living up to the spirit of the game. According to Amy Mickelson, her husband offered to WD and the USGA either declined or discouraged the action. Beth Ann Nichols also notes a curious quote from Phil before ducking more questions.

Mickelson's post-round explanation appears to have backfired based on media reaction. My Golfweek column received much pushback for suggesting Mickelson's legacy might be tainted by the incident. I'm sticking by my stance. A surprising number suggested Mickelson's legacy gave him the right to mis-behave. 

Kyle Porter asks if this is what we want golf to be and makes this amongst many vital points:

So Mickelson wriggles through a preposterous loophole (not his first or last loophole wriggle!) because he pulled his club back and made a stroke. Maybe I'm wrong, but Rule 14-5 does not appear to have been created for this type of situation. That's why Rule 1-2 exists.

John Feinstein wonders for Golf World why the USGA did not go after Mickelson for an etiquette breach.

One last piece of rules mumbo-jumbo: Rule 33-7 is the catch-all here. It gives the committee the wherewithal to disqualify a player it if believes a serious breach has been committed but also to not disqualify a player if it believes there are mitigating circumstances.

It was 33-7 that Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, then the chairman of the championship committee for the Masters, fell back on in 2013 in deciding not to disqualify Tiger Woods for signing an incorrect scorecard after the second round that year.

Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com called for Phil to WD and summed up the debacle like this:

The cover-up is always worse than the crime. Mickelson turned the one major championship he has failed to win into a mini-golf misadventure, minus the windmill and clown's mouth. Now it's time for him to pick up his ball and go home.

Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com:

In the end, though, Mickelson’s actions—and words—made him look lamer than those button downs, rather than the smartest guy in the room.

“I don’t believe he really knows that rule,” the USGA’s former chief executive David Fay said on Fox of Mickelson. “I think his explanation made things complicated. I would’ve thought long and hard about it and after hearing everything I’ve heard I would’ve lobbied for disqualification.”

Eamon Lynch at Golfweek with a superb read on Mickelson's career Grand Slam effectively ending with his Shinnecock performance.

In that single stroke, Mickelson’s carefully constructed veneer fell away, the years of pained diplomacy and outward optimism with which he greeted every failed, painful tilt at the national Open. It was a quiet scream, seen but not heard.

So it's a simple question that probably is easier in hindsight given Mickelson's tone and admission of a calculated effort to bend, if not break the rules. And probably even easier given the USGA's coddling of a player not living up to basic standards for play. But here goes...

Should the USGA have disqualified Phil Mickelson for a serious breach of etiquette?
 
pollcode.com free polls

What Has To Change For Shinnecock Hills To Work in 2026?

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The reviews are in and they are not strong for the USGA's handling of Shinnecock Hills

My take for Golfweek comes with doses of empathy, as Mike Davis, Jeff Hall and friends are trying to maintain the difficult U.S. Open challenge in a game out of balance due to equipment advances. To do so, the edge-pushing in a modern green speed world via tough hole locations will continue to make classic courses too prone to disasters like Saturday.

I also have great admiration for the effort of the grounds crew who had the place in superb condition and positioned perfectly heading into the week. As with 2004, the fatal decisions for this setup were not theirs to make. 

The Live From guys weren't as empathetic but it's hard to argue against their points in light of what happened.

Still, the problem remains the pre-tournament guarantees juxtaposed against what ended up happening. Reconciling the inability to have learned from mistakes will likely haunt the USGA for the next eight years. 

Just a reminder of what was said and promoted pre-2018...

The USGA actually touted the lessons learned in this video piece.

Matt Ginella's piece on the maintenance team and tools at the USGA's disposal.

And here is what was said at May's media day by Mike Davis:

"And so I would just say that it was 14 years ago, it was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organization, we learned from it. When you set up a U.S. Open it is golf's ultimate test, it's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf and I think that the difference then versus now is there was a lot more, we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water. There just wasn't enough water put in and the plant, essentially the grass itself kind of went dormant, there wasn't enough friction on the greens.

"And now days we have got everything from firmness meters, we have got moisture meters in the greens, we have got -- obviously we can tell how fast a green is running. The meteorology is better, so we not only know where the wind are coming from but the velocities. And, frankly, there's better communication between the USGA and the grounds staff.”

In hindsight, the tools and those manning them worked. The weather forecast was not taken seriously enough by the USGA, just as was the case in 2004. There was a decision this time around not to add water as the day progressed that will haunt this regime just as it has with past setup teams. (It should be noted PJ Boatwright and David Eger's setups in 1986 and 1995 did not experience any issues. Greens were also slower and the equipment was not overwhelming the game.) 

It seems the USGA needs to understand most want a satisfying championship, even if it means a compromise of the principle to not interfere with conditions as play progresses. (Thank you all for voting on the topic of adding water. With nearly 900 votes in now, 59% say add water mid-round if need be, 41% said no.) 

Who would argue with a midday misting in this case had it been done in the name of protecting the health of the greens post-tournament? And we are talking about a very small amount to have kept those hole locations functional.

With two straight Opens tainted by a lack of water and a golf course that so easily spills over the edge as a dry, warm day progresses, what is there to be done?

Without any distance regulation or willingness to accept lower scores as a result of turning away from suggestions distances advances were de-skilling the game, the USGA must not let classic seaside courses have green speeds over 10.5. They must let the courses be scored upon, though a case could be made slower greens would not lead to lower scores. Having given the Heisman to distance regulation for years while pushing green speeds and hole locations to maintain the ultimate test, the organization has positioned itself into a corner.

One thing we do know: no classic course should every be forced to add length or soften greens going forward. Especially a masterpiece like Shinnecock Hills. 

Poll: To Water During The Round Or Not To Water During The Round?

As we watch the 2018 U.S. Open final round play out, I keep coming back to one issue from Saturday's play: when it became apparently some holes that were working in the morning were not longer function in the afternoon, why not hit the the greens with water? The lesson of 2004 was: more water fixed the problems, rolling in the middle of the night or not. 

Philosophically, people do not like to see the course tampered once play has begun. But in a baseball game, infield crews freshen up the field as the day goes and repair the mound to ensure the best and safest conditions. 

So I'm curious what you think would be better: yesterday's outcome or a little water?

Should the USGA have brought out the hoses and hit the greens with water mid-round?
 
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