This And That From Day One, 2017 U.S. Amateur

The world's best amateurs gathered in Los Angeles for day one of the U.S. Amateur under glorious mid-70s conditions interspersed with an abundance of agents and club manufacturers hawking their wares.

Of course, Riviera is the annual host to the Los Angeles Open, currently the Genesis Open until further notice, where the PGA Tour pros are "wusses" compared to the players who go the distance this week. From Tom Hoffarth's story for the Daily News and OC Register.

Michael Yamaki, the corporate officer or Riviera and general chairman of the U.S. Amateur Championship, said what sets this event apart from any other golf championship should be obvious, starting with the shorter window of opportunity for an amateur to play in this should he be good enough to turn professional. And, if Yamaki can be blunt, he said “the professionals are wusses … they’re only playing four days. We have to play seven straight days, plus 36 (holes) on the last day. … when you look at the Amateur, it’s really old school.”

So old school that there were almost no volunteer marshals or spotters available for the tees and fairways, leading to numerous lost balls and slow play. Woohoo old school!

At Riviera, Western Amateur champion Norman Xiong fired a brilliant 64 on day one of medal play, matched by two others as Pete Kowalski writes here for USAmateur.com. He will try to wrap up low-medalist at Bel-Air Country Club on Tuesday.

Amateurgolf.com's Kevin Cassidy has a variety of notes and points out the strong play from one of the marquee groups.

Cameras and the occasional IPhone streaming to Facebook could also be found at the 8:34 tee time with Doug Ghim, Cameron Champ, and Norman Xiong. This featured group was chirping for the cameras all day with 15 birdies between them. Champ finished up at even par (70), Ghim three-under (67) and Xiong is tied for the lead at six-under (64).

Players have been saying Riviera is playing at least three shots harder and they will be looking at more birdie opportunities at Bel-Air Country Club.

Former Angel and Mariner Shigetoshi Hasegawa qualified at age 49, and while he struggled to an 81, the retired pitcher appeared to enjoy his first USGA event. I filed this for Golfweek.

Things weren't dull over at Bel Air according to a well-known member and now part-time scribbling great...

The player in question whose probably got his entire set of clubs drying out tonight: Wilson Furr.

Todd Mitchell opened with a 67 but did not sign his card and was disqualified.  

USGA photos from day one. 

All day one scores here.

History! 13-Year-Old Wins 30-Hole U.S. Women's Am Match

You'll want to watch the highlights of the record 30-hole U.S. Women's Amateur quarterfinal match eventually won by 13-year-old Chia Yen Wu over Lauren Stephenson. There was no shortage of near makes that would have iced the match, which goes down as the longest in the 117-year history of USGA championships...by two holes!

Vanessa Zink reported this for USGA.org

“My caddie just told me, ‘I want to go eat dinner,’” said a smiling Wu, referring to Scotty Patel, a two-time club champion at San Diego Country Club who is on Wu’s bag this week as they approached the 18th tee. “He reads the lines pretty well, and he tells me, ‘You can make it,’ and gives me confidence.”

In her story from Chula Vistas, Beth Ann Nichols at Golfweek points out that Patel is making quite the sacrifice to stay on the bag for Lu on Saturday.

Her caddie, local businessman Scott Patel, won the club championship here two years ago and was supposed to see his daughter off to college this weekend at UC-Berkeley. That will have to wait.

(Nichols also files a wonderful story on semi-finalist Alexis Valenzuela and her brother-caddie.)

This was just one of the crazier moments:

 

 

Romo Hit With Slow Play Penalty En Route To Western Cut Miss

Former Cowboys QB and scratch golfer Tony Romo struggled in his Western Amateur debut, but the future CBS football analyst did struggle to keep pace, writes the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein.

Romo beat only two of the 155 players who completed 36 holes, and he was assessed a one-stroke penalty Wednesday for slow play.

"He was very gracious about it," Western Golf Association tournament chief Vince Pellegrino said. "His group fell behind and missed two checkpoints. The others in the group did not receive a penalty. They made an effort to close the gap. Tony readily accepted it."

The WGA invited Romo to draw more eyes to the event and highlight the outstanding play of amateurs such as Florida State's John Pak, who shot a competitive course-record 63 on Wednesday, and Illinois' Nick Hardy.

Fox Rolls Out 2017 USGA Schedule, Walker Cup To Get 12 Hours

The Fox Sports/USGA press release provides fantastic news for fans who love team events and the first chance for a national audience to see Los Angeles Country Club's North Course, home to the 2023 U.S. Open. Twelve hours of coverage was announced for the September event.

The overall package pledges over 140 hours of USGA coverage, though by my math it's actually 132.5:

US Open 38.5 hours
Senior Open 20
Women’s Open 20
Junior Am 6
Girls’ Junior 6
Women’s Am 15
Amateur 15
Walker Cup 12

With 54 hours devoted to amateur golf that's down from the 76 hours annually that was pledged when the USGA and Fox announced their partnership in 2013.

Stewart Hagestad Becomes First U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Invitee To Make Masters Cut

While the great Jay Sigel made a cut in 1988, never has a U.S. Mid-Amateur invitee made the Masters cut since the invitation began in 1989. Until 2017 when Stewart Hagestad, a 25-year-old from Newport Beach who did so comfortably with a 36-hole total of 147.

Brentley Romine at Golfweek.com on Hagestad's unforgettable finish, which was shown on the main ESPN broadcast (video below).

After clipping a pine tree with his drive at the par-4 18th, Hagestad cut a 3-iron from the second cut and landed it on the front part of the green. As the ball took a big bounce some 20 feet past the hole, the gallery seemed unfazed by the performance. But when the ball started coming back down the slope and toward the hole, the patrons’ cheers heightened, culminating in a loud cry when Hagestad’s ball just missed the cup.

Hagestad tees off Saturday at 12:40 pm ET with Brian Stourd, who he played the first two rounds with alonside 1987 Masters Champion, Larry Mize.

 

 

Global Golf Post Picks Up SF City Championship Fees (Again)

Last year Randy Haag pointed out that male and female semi-finalists in the historic San Francisco City were paying high fees at the expensive post-renovation (TPC) Harding Park. So Global Golf Post picked up the costs in a kind gesture for one of the nation's oldest city championships.

Once again all 22 finalists competing at Harding in various male and female city championship flights won't have to pay green fees.

Nice going GGP!

Luck Will Have It! Aussie Curtis Wins U.S. Amateur

Lucky because even Curtis Luck is a tough name for USGA President Diana Murphy to rearrange as only she can!

Not that he cares, as Luck wins golf's most prestigious amateur title and all of the perks that go with it. He becomes the third Aussie (Travis, Flanagan) and first wearer of a manbun to win the Havermeyer Trophy.

Sure, Luck dashed hopes for a trophy ceremony Grand Slam by President Murphy, but alas, the damage on the USGA leadership front has been done.

Ryan Herrington at GolfDigest.com writes about Luck's secret weapon on the bag, dad Curtis, who kept things light, allowing for a turnaround of epic proportions.

Rather than risk doing more damage with his putter, he conceded the par putt of his opponent, Brad Dalke, and walked off 1 down.

At that moment, Luck heard a voice offer some meaningful, albeit straightforward, advice.

“OK,” said Stuart Luck, Curtis’ 46-year-old father who doubled this week as his caddie, “now we need to play some good golf.”

The brief moment of levity—“He usually likes being very obvious with his statements out on the golf course,” Curtis would say later—helped the No.7 ranked amateur in the world shrug off the stumble and re-set himself.

Jeff Babineau at Golfweek.com notes in his game story that Luck will remain an amateur to enjoy the scheduling benefits that come with the title.

Luck, who will now stay amateur, can fill out his 2017 schedule with starts at the Masters (traditionally, the U.S. Am winner gets invited), U.S. Open and British Open, as well as traditional starts in PGA Tour events such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Memorial.

As for holding off on turning pro? As they say back home in Australia, no worries, mate.

“It was something I always was thinking might happen,” Luck said. “I’m very happy with staying amateur.”

Herrington also wrote about a fun touch by the Oakland Hills chef Dan Vallone.

Here are the USGA highlights.

And an interview with the winner.


The Case For Amateur Golfers In The Olympics...Isn't Strong

No offense to all who have written in the wake of star WD's from the Rio Games who have suggested that this would not be happening if we had amateur golfers instead of pros.

Zane Bojack is just one of many who have written this in recent days, suggesting many of the emerging new talents in golf would have remained amateurs for the Olympics.

I think he has a point with the amateur game farewelling stars like American Bryson DeChambeau, Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick, Spain's John Rahm and Australia's Ryan Ruffels in the past 12 months.

If you don't know them yet, then you soon will as these athletes who've recently turned professional are the future of the game.

DeChambeau finished tied 15th in the recently completed US Open, Fitzpatrick took out the 2015 British Masters, John Rahm just finished third in a PGA TOUR event at Congressional and Ryan Ruffels turned pro at the ripe old age of 17.

These young guns should be the players competing for a gold in Rio, with the Olympics keeping them in the amateur game for longer.

Already there are fears Ruffels may have turned professional too early after missing the cut in seven events he has taken part in on the PGA Tour.

Unfortunately, the money to be made coming out of college is still there, as is the pressure to begin playing and earning status on various tours. I'm not seeing how an Olympic opportunity would change that or cause more to remain lifelong amateurs.

Here is the current World Amateur Golf Ranking top 20. All fine young golfers with immense talent but would anyone want to watch this field?

Bryson DeChambeau Goes With Cobra/Puma

Hardly a shocker, given that Bryson DeChambeau's clothes last week discreetly sported a Puma logo.

Nonetheless he's officially on board wearing Puma's and using Cobra clubs for his PGA Tour debut at Harbour Town this week.

Mike Johnson and Mike Stachura with the lowdown on DeChambeau's club specs.

Ron Green Jr. reports that Bryson intends to keep wearing the Hogan cap and explains how that started.

“I put it on and won the event and looked at my dad and said, ‘I can’t stop this,’ ” DeChambeau said.

It’s also a nod to the late Payne Stewart, who wore a similar style.

During the news conference – two hours before the Cobra Puma
announcement – DeChambeau wore a more traditional golf cap. He saves the other style for game days.

“That’s my cape,” DeChambeau said. “So I only wear that for tournament days.”

Greg Moore with the irons the current U.S. Amateur champion is using this week:


And SkratchTV helped him unveil his Spackler. I'd give it an 8.

What's Going On With The World Amateur Golf Ranking?

On the list of issues facing the sport how amateurs are ranked by the R&A's World Amateur Golf Ranking probably doesn't leap off the page as prime click bait.

Which is even more reason to check out Golf Bible's analysis of a lightly viewed press release announcing changes to how the rankings are tabulated. Namely, a two-year window is now considered to tabulate an amateur golfer's ranking, which can impact if the player is eligible for something like the Asia Pacific Amateur.

There has long been great discord within amateur golf ranks over the ranking, including at the moment when the current NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion, Bryson DeChambeau, is ranked third, yet lands a more logical first in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

I'm guessing this would be example A as to why it has less credibility than it should, as Golf Bible writes:

Prior to last week’s announcement Jon Rahm was due this week to drop a huge number of points that he won for finishing tied 5th at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Now he will stay at No. 1 I guess. Oppositely the SPWAR has more smooth and gradual changes because it applies points ageing.

[Somehow Rahm was awarded more points (30.250) by the WAGR for this high pro finish than DeChambeau got for winning either the US Amateur (19.875) or the NCAA Division 1 Championship (22.000) which explains why he is No. 1 if you were wondering].

Masters Berth: 2016 LAAC Set Up For Fun Finish

With a Masters berth on the line, not even a large lead is safe. But just two shots separate the top four heading into Sunday's finale of the Latin America Amateur Championship at Pete Dye's spectacular Casa De Campo, Teeth of the Dog course.

The final threesome offers an intriguing setup, with last year's runner up and Florida golfer Alejandro Tosti paired with teaamate Jorge Garcia (Venezuela). They are chasing Campbell University golfer Gaston Bertinotti of Argentina. The U.S. collegiate aspect might be disappointing for some but also speaks to the role of NCAA golf these days in shaping players from all over.

As noted in this week's Forward Press by ESPN's Sean McDonough, Tosti's story is particularly compelling, though having a Venezuelan qualify would certainly open eyes in a country where the game has been mocked by its president, except when Johnny Vegas won a tour event.

The final round starts on ESPN2 at 11:30 am ET, with a highlights show at 5:30 pm ET.

Third round highlights:

Poll: USGA Takes On Rogue Loner Score Posters!

There are a number of ways to read the USGA's announced changes to the handicap system. While some are rejoicing at the end of vanity handicappers existence (well, the lone poster type), others feel this will result in even fewer golfers carrying a handicap.

Before a poll, the full release:

USGA RELEASES CHANGES TO HANDICAP SYSTEM

FAR HILLS, N.J. (Nov. 23, 2015) – In tandem with the 2016 updates to the Rules of Golf, the United States Golf Association has announced revisions to the USGA Handicap System™, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“The USGA Handicap System is constantly evolving to ensure that the System works for the game today and tomorrow,” said Steven Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of Handicapping & Course Rating. “As we examine the game domestically and globally, these revisions support the integrity and reliability that millions of players around the world expect of this System. We continue to explore substantive changes as we work toward a World Handicap System in the years ahead.”

Six significant changes are among those noted in the upcoming edition, which will impact approximately 10 million golfers who hold a Handicap Index® issued throughout the U.S. and 32 licensed associations, federations and unions around the world. Those highlighted changes include:

    •    Definition of a tournament score: Additional guidance is provided to Committees conducting competitions regarding the definition of a tournament score, placing greater emphasis on “significant events.” The definition excludes fundraising events and regular league play, in favor of designated competitions such as a member/guest or club championship, local amateur tournament or national qualifying and competition. (Section 2: Definitions)

    •    Adjusting hole scores: A revised decision provides clarity for acceptable scores in limited situations where the player has not played a hole(s) under the Rules of Golf, but his or her score would be sufficiently accurate for handicap posting purposes. Three areas covered under the examples include: 1) where the Local Rule is not in effect, but a player chooses to use a Distance Measuring Device or preferred lies; 2) where a player does not wish to cause undue delay; or 3) where the situation is outside of the player’s control, such as an incorrectly marked golf course.  (Section 4: Adjusting Hole Scores)

    •    Posting scores when a player is disqualified: To improve alignment with the Rules of Golf, the revised Handicap System is clearer about what scores are acceptable when a player is disqualified. In general, a score is acceptable for handicap purposes even when a player fails to hole out, or apply a Rule that affects the rights of another player. If the disqualification breach is determined to provide an advantage for the player, the score is deemed unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Anchoring and posting: A new reference concerns a player who anchors the club while making a stroke during a round and fails to apply the appropriate penalty or an adjusted hole score (Section 4-2). Since the score would not be reflected as playing under the Rules of Golf, it would be unacceptable for handicap purposes. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Playing alone and necessary peer review: To further support the key System premise of peer review, scores made while playing alone will no longer be acceptable for handicap purposes. This change underscores the importance of providing full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability, and the ability of other players to form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a posted score. (Section 5-1: Acceptability of Scores)

    •    Committee responsibilities: In an effort to assist the Handicap Committee with its responsibilities, this revision addresses a player with a temporary disability or permanent disability who has a Handicap Index that is no longer reflective of his/her current potential ability. In the particular instance cited, the Committee will no longer assign a local handicap (denoted with the letter “L” for local use only), but instead will issue a (temporary) modified Handicap Index (denoted by the letter “M”). This change supports the portability of a disabled player’s handicap, so that it can be used outside the player’s home club. (Section 8-4c: Handicap Index Adjustment by Handicap Committee)

An overview of these changes with more detailed information will be provided at usga.org before the end of 2015. The complete USGA Handicap System Manual will be posted to the same site, and it will be available for purchase at USGAshop.com, on Jan. 1, 2016

As promised, a poll. Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap?

Was it reasonable to allow solo score postings as part of maintaining a USGA handicap?
 
pollcode.com free polls

DeChambeau Looking Like An Amateur In Dress Only

And that's a great thing!

As U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau prepares for his second week of pro golf in Australia, the second place finisher at the Australian Masters is pulling on the heartstrings of longtime golf fans by actually dressing like the way amateurs playing in pro events used to dress.

Instead of wearing corporate-logoed and scripted clothing, DeChambeau is sporting his Walker Cup team uniforms and maintaining a trend of golf-appropriate clothing.

Before he slipped into contention Sunday, DeChambeau grinded out a 72 Saturday and spoke to Ian Ransom of Reuters after his round. Not much new ground was covered for those fascinated by DeChambeau's uniform-length clubs and interest in The Golfing Machine, but it's still a good read.

Golf Channel has added an encore presentation of the 2015 Australian Masters won by 56-year-old Peter Senior, Tuesday at 2 pm ET.