A hard way to make a living: Here are the 12 worst jobs in golf

You know what they say: a bad day of golf is still better than a good day of work, especially if your work is one of these 12 gigs.

BEVERAGE CART DRIVER AT BOOZY CORPORATE OUTING

If there’s anything more awkward than the ham-fisted flirtations of a pudgy middle-aged man with booze on his breath, it’s the wan smile on the face of a patient young woman mixing yet another cocktail for her sloppy suitor and wondering when her shift will ever end.

RULES OFFICIAL IN FINAL GROUP OF MAJOR

The way tournaments have been going these days, odds are something’s going to happen—and when it does, you best know the 600-plus pages of the Decision on the Rule of Golf like you do your kids’ birthdays.

DRIVING RANGE PICKER

Like Mad Max on a fuel run, he heads out in his rickety, jerry-rigged ride, fully aware of the grim fate that awaits him. In an instant he is spotted by club-wielding barbarians with bucket-loads of ammo and brainless ambitions. On the course, these heathens rarely hit a green in regulation. But on the range they unleash screamers with frightening precision, whooping in celebration as they rattle the mesh cage around our hero, who, regardless of what he’s earning, should really be getting paid a whole lot more.

COURSE AMBASSADOR AT JAM-PACKED RESORT

Though it may sound grandiose, “ambassador” is an apt title for a role that strains even the finest diplomatic skills. Pressed by antsy golfers to get things moving, our on-course Kissinger drives ahead for delicate negotiations with a stubborn, sluggish foursome, who remind him haughtily that they’ve paid their $400 so they’ll take six hours if they damn well please. Ever tactful, even in the face of such surly nonsense, our ambassador strikes a statesman-like balance between persistence and politeness. But he has no real power. As the pace of play crawls on, he rides away muttering to himself, “You came out of retirement for this?”

CADDIE ON THE BAG OF ARROGANT HACK

A caddie’s job is to keep up and shut up. That part’s easy. The hard part comes when the player does neither, banging balls all over the planet while droning on incessantly about himself and his game. Being the insufferable fellow that he is, he also blames his looper for misreading putts that he barely gets rolling and misclubbing him on irons that he flat-out shanks. He caps the miserable day by failing to tip.

LOWEST RANKING CADDIE IN THE CADDYSHACK

Forced to wait all day for a single loop, he finally gets one. It turns out to be the guy described above.

CAMERA OPERATOR IN CHERRY PICKER

As if an eight-hour shift under a broiling sun isn’t hard enough, there’s nowhere to relieve yourself. Well, expect for that Gatorade bottle.

HEAD PRO AT SUFFOCATINGLY STUFFY PRIVATE CLUB

He got into this line of work because he loved the game, not because he dreamed of playing yes-man to a pack of self-important Judge Smails-types who find reason to complain in everything from the speed of the greens and plushness of the fairways to the offending branches of a 300-year-old oak tree they’re bent on seeing removed.

ASSISTANT PRO WHO HAS NEVER HAD A WEEKEND OFF

The last time he played, he shot a tidy 67. That was 11 years ago.

BALL-HAWKER DIVING INTO GATOR-INFESTED WATER HAZARDS

On the one hand, we respect the bravery and bull-headedness required to don a wetsuit and plunge into a festering, predator-filled pond in the hopes of recovering some ProV1s, which reliably re-sell for as much as a buck each. On the other hand, we wonder: has your brain gone cloudy from the bends?

GOLF LISTICLE WRITER

Years ago, when life spread out before you like a bright green promise, you dreamed of one day penning the Great American Novel. But now, in the age of Trump and Twitter, your own limited talents, combined with the limited attention span of readers, have reduced you to what you were probably meant to be: the author of a zillion golf-related lists. Hey, let’s see you try to do this.

Courtesy of Josh Jens (golf.com)

UPDATED: Napa fire burns grandstands hours after Safeway Open ends, forces evacuation of Silverado Resort

JOSH EDELSON
A tent structure built for the 2017 Safeway Open burns on a golf course at the Silverado Resort and Spa.

A fire early Monday forced the evacuation of Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa only hours after the completion of the PGA Tour’s season-opening Safeway Open.

Mitch Cosentino, a prominent winemaker in the Napa Valley, an avid golfer and friend to many on the PGA Tour, posted this on his Facebook page about 1:30 a.m. (PDT): SILVERADO COUNTRY CLUB IS IN DANGER. THE FIRES HAVE COME DOWN PAST William Hill Winery. Both sides of Hardman Rd are burning across from the driving range at the Country Club. This has passed thru a very good Cab Sauv vineyard just north of the 5th hole. I was supposed to pick Thursday. Likely no good now. Who knows what has happened to William Hill Winery.”

“Several massive wildfires burned out of control in Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying an untold number of homes and businesses, forcing the evacuation of many thousands of people and shutting down major roadways as firefighters sought to halt the advance of infernos that were driven by powerful winds,” this story in the San Francisco Chronicle said.

“Guests of the Silverado Resort and Spa on Atlas Peak Road said they had been evacuated in a rush as flames approached. The resort had hosted the Safeway Open, a PGA Tour event, which ended Sunday.

“’We were sleeping, but we kept smelling smoke,’ said Chris Thomas, 42, of Kirkland, Wash., who arrived in the Napa Valley late Sunday with his wife, Marissa Schneider, for a wine-tasting trip.”

It is not yet known whether any tour players were still at the resort, though tournament host Johnny Miller has a condominium there. Miller, on Golf Channel’s telecast on Sunday, made note of the strong winds. “This is a very unusual wind. … To have that north wind blowing out of nowhere after three days of just mild little breezes it makes it a lot tougher.”

Courtesy of John Strege (golfworld.com)

Belen Mozo makes ace at New Zealand Women’s Open, but doesn’t win car due to loophole

With the Presidents Cup taking place at Liberty National this week, and Sam Saunders joining the 59 club at the Web.com Tour Finals, it was difficult to keep up with everything in the golf world.

But the ladies are playing a golf tournament as well, all the way in Auckland, New Zealand. The field at the Mckayson New Zealand Women’s Open is quite strong, featuring stars like Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang. But they are all chasing Spain’s Belen Mozo, who fired rounds of 66 and 64 to take a five shot lead at 14-under 130 through 36 holes.

Mozo, 29, was already working on a stellar second round when she reached the par-3 13th Windross Farm Golf Course, but it got a little more special after her tee shot took flight:

If you notice, there is a sleek little Infiniti Q60 in the background that Mozo eventually embraces after her ball finds the cup. There’s just one tiny problem: the rules say the car can only be won on the weekend. Dagger!

While it will surely sting, she can quickly forget about it with two more solid rounds on the weekend as she searches for her first LPGA Tour victory.

courtesy of Christopher Powers (golfdigest.com)

A 9,000-yard course would be nuts, but it’s also fast becoming a necessity

Over the last month, golf’s ruling bodies—the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient—have conducted their most important championships, offering a referendum on their stewardship of the professional game.

At the U.S. Open, Justin Thomas became the first man to post a nine-under round at a major and Brooks Koepka decimated the longest course in U.S. Open history, posting a record 16-under on an Erin Hills layout that played around 7,800 yards. One former champion told GOLF.com, “This is not what the Open is supposed to be. It’s a joke. A highlight show.” At last week’s Open Championship, Branden Grace broke golf’s four-minute-mile barrier,torching Royal Birkdale with a record round of 62. Grace ranks 108th on the PGA Tour in driving distance; on his historic day, Birkdale played less than 7,200 yards and a short-knocker like Grace hit 9-iron or less into 10 greens, with the longest club he employed into any par 4 being a 7-iron. The longest hitters faced even less of a test as the game’s oldest championship had essentially been reduced to a pitch-and-putt.

I have been saying for years that to seriously challenge Tour players—to make them hit long-irons into some par 3s and 4s, and have a few 5s be true three-shot holes—a course needs to be around 9,000 yards. Maybe 10,000. I tweeted this in the wake of Grace’s 62 and it ruffled the feathers of many folks, including various Tour players. “That is complete nonsense!” Billy Horschel replied, with typical understatement. Colt Knost offered a similarly nuanced take: “U seriously have no idea what ur talking about!”

I’m not saying a 9,000-yard course is a good idea, only that it has become a necessity. Luke Donald partially fleshed out the problem with this solution: “SMH & 7 hour rounds, how fun Alan.” It’s true that a course of that length would require an obscene amount of land and water and time to play. But the USGA and R&A have shown no stomach for rolling back the pros’ gear.

The entire equipment industry is built on FOMO; we all want to play the latest and greatest stuff that the pros use. A reduced-flight ball would be a disaster for fan interest: Who wants to watch Dustin Johnson drive it 270 when we can do it ourselves? So while throttling back the ball and driver would be an easy fix to make today’s courses relevant again, I am operating under the premise that it will never happen, despite the pleas of Jack Nicklaus and many other truth-tellers. So where does the game go from here?

Course setup seems like an easy answer. As Knost tweeted at me, “They can’t help that there is no wind and soft greens [at Birkdale]. Deep rough firm greens [is the answer]. Course can be 6800 yards and play tough. Look at Olympic club.” The same thing was said of Erin Hills: It would have been a totally different test if it had played tournament and fast. But it often rains during the Open Championship, and every U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the Midwest or East is likely to get wet, just as so many Masters weeks have been touched by storms. To bank on dry, fiery conditions to give a venue its teeth is foolish.

Links courses have always used wind as a primary defense and still conditions led to good scoring, but nowadays no wind means these 19th-century playing fields will be destroyed by modern athletes who optimize their performance with trainers, nutritionists, osteopaths, sports psychologists, putting gurus, stats experts, Trackman, Swedish nannies and a host of other modern advances. Unless every major moves to California (home of the Olympic Club), firm and fast will remain a mirage.

So what about deep rough and narrow fairways? No doubt that setup is a deterrent to low scoring. But it also leads to a tedious, constrained style of golf, where shotmaking is diminished. A very penal setup off the tee means power players will simply leave the big stick in the bag. Driving it long and straight is the toughest task in golf, and those who can do both deserve to be rewarded; if there is no room to hit driver, the sport has been diminished and the venue is not offering a true test.

I should state here that I don’t really care about the concept of protecting par. Whether the winning score at a major championship is six under or 14 under is of little interest to me; what I care about is how the score was accomplished. Laying up off the tee with 3-woods and hybrids and hitting short irons into most greens simply makes the game too easy. Birdiefests at everyday Tour events are fun, but the majors should test every aspect of players’ games while pushing them to the brink spiritually.

Jordan Spieth described his third-round 65 at Birkdale as “stress-free.” I’m sorry, but trying to protect a lead in the final group on Saturday at a major should involve some stress. At the U.S. Open last month Dru Love, son of Davis and a college-aged amateur who was playing in his first Open, described Erin Hills, after a first-round 71 as “pretty easy,” while Matt Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood, noted that “nobody’s playing with any fear.” Wood was right. During the final round there was never a sense of imminent danger, the rain-softened course was simply too short, even at 7,800 yards. Erin Hills had been built to accommodate drivers but in the end was bludgeoned to death by them.

This is the point where I should offer a brilliant solution but, alas, there isn’t one. The USGA and R&A have begat a mess that can’t easily be cleaned up. Golf’s most important events now need the perfect mix of sunbaked greens and stiff wind to offer the right challenge. This will happen only occasionally, so in a doomed effort to protect the reputation of the courses (and ruling bodies) you can expect more silly setups like the dead greens at Chambers Bay or shaved greens at the Old Course in 2015, which led to a suspension of play due to wind (even though every other nearby course was open for play), or what we saw at Merion, with crazy pin positions and players hitting irons off the tee at many/most of the par 4s, which is about as boring as golf gets.

Every sport evolves, and golf has done so rapidly this century, which began with the solid-core ball revolution. In response to my original tweet a few folks pointed out that basketball players have grown bigger and stronger and more skilled but the NBA hasn’t raised the rims. That’s because those bigger, stronger players also play defense, keeping the game in balance. The only defense golf courses have today is the weather, with all of its capriciousness, or extreme setups, with all of their flaws. The equivalent of 6’11″ point guard is a 9,000-yard golf course. Like it or not, the time has come.

Courtesy of Alan Shipnuck(golf.com)

 

Lydia Ko regains form, ties Lexi Thompson for Indy lead

Lydia Ko delivered a clear message to her LPGA Tour rivals Friday.

She’s having fun again – and she’s ready to start winning again.

The 20-year-old New Zealander shot an 8-under 64 and grabbed a share of the lead with Lexi Thompson at 15-under 129 with a round left in the Indy Women in Tech Championship. If Ko puts together one more solid round Saturday, she could finally pick up her first win since July 2016.

“I know I’ve still got a whole, full 18 holes tomorrow to go, but I think really the key was that I’ve just kind of enjoyed being in this position and being able to hit some good shots and give myself some good looks at birdie,” Ko said. “When you start doing that, it builds your confidence and you’re not dwelling on, ‘Hey, am I going to hit a good shot or a bad shot.’ I think that’s kind of the mindset that I’ve kind of gotten into the last few months.”

After a summer full of frustration, the 14-time tour winner has shifted gears at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s golf course.

Ko started the season with four top-10 finishes in seven events, but hasn’t finished higher than 10th since. She even missed the cuts in two of her last three tournaments.

Somehow, amid the intermittent sounds of chirping birds, jet engines, sirens and car horns while playing in the shadows of the racetrack’s grandstands, Ko found some serenity.

While playing partners Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis, the winner last week in Portland, Oregon, struggled, Ko took advantage of the wide fairways and receptive greens and started playing like the world’s No. 1 player- a title she held for more than 80 consecutive weeks.

Now No. 8 in the world, Ko started on the back nine and opened with consecutive birdies to tie Thompson at 9 under. Ko finally broke the tie with a birdie at No. 15, then took charge with five straight birdies on the front side to reach 16 under. The only glitch came on No. 8 when Ko missed the green to the left and slid her par putt to the right for a bogey.

“It was a little disappointing to finish off with a bogey on my 17th hole, but I felt like I played the toughest hole out there,” she said while Thompson prepared to tee off nearby. “Sometimes you have those mistakes but you need to move on from that. To me, it’s just nice to play some solid golf and put myself in a good position.”

Ko also understood her score might not hold up for the outright lead.

Thompson made sure of it, following her opening 63 with a 66.

The 22-year-old Florida player closed out the front nine with three birdies on the final four holes then adding birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 to tie Ko. But Thompson’s birdie putt at No. 16 missed just to the left of the hole and she wound up scrambling for par on the final two holes when her approaches went through the greens.

“Actually, I didn’t hit one bad golf shot today,” Thompson said. “I feel great about it, I’ll never complain about a 6-under round.”

The final threesome Saturday might not need to do much scoreboard watching.

Candie Kung made nine birdies and shot a 64 to reach 14 under.

“Luckily, I was able to hit some really close ones and have some 3-footers and 5-footers for birdies and I pretty much made all of them except the last one,” Kung said.

Ashleigh Buhai was fourth at 11 under after a 66, and Cristie Kerr (67) and Amy Olson (68) were 10 under.

Kerr has more than golf on her mind.

“We live in Scottsdale, Arizona, right now, but my whole family is there (in Florida) and tons of friends and I’m just really, really worried for everybody,” Kerr said as her home state braces for Hurricane Irma.

Sandra Gal was tied with Kung at 14 under, then bogeyed the par-3 15th and hit two drives into the water on the par-4 16th en route to a 10. She finished with a 73 to drop eight strokes behind the leaders.

Amateur Erica Shepherd was 5 under after a 68.

Lewis made the cut on the number at 2 under with rounds of 72 and 70.

Nordqvist failed to advance, shooting 74-71 to finish at 1 over.

Courtesy AP NEWS

Hurricane Harvey uproots Houston golf teams

Houston golf coaches Gerrod Chadwell and Jonathan Dismuke used kayaks to rescue their programs’ Trackman, camera equipment and other electronics on Sunday from their home facility at the Golf Club of Houston. Chadwell said the water was 8 to 9 feet deep in the area around the Dave Williams Golf Academy. He sent pictures of the completely submerged championship course, which annually hosts the Shell Houston Open.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Chadwell. “It’s water as far you can see.”

The Houston women were slated to have their annual retreat at Bluejack National this year. Juli Inkster held a similar getaway filled with golf, corn hole and fishing for the U.S. Solheim Cup team candidates last April.

But with weather coming in, the Cougars instead practiced in the rain at their home facility on Friday and then headed to the home of Chadwell and his wife, LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis, for a team dinner. Chadwell said their home, which is located in the Golf Club of Houston community, is safe but lost electricity.

The traveling party of 14 then moved to the home of senior Allie Andersen in The Woodlands, Texas. Andersen’s family has a generator, but so far hasn’t had to use it.

The team got outside and played football in the rain to take their minds off of Harvey and its devastating aftermath.

Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, dumped a staggering 49 inches on the city of Houston. Chadwell loaded up his team on Tuesday afternoon and headed to Dallas. It was still raining when they drove past a line of boat trailers along the side of the road.

“You see these people put their boats in off the highway to do whatever they can,” he said.

Chadwell was grateful to SMU head coach Jeanne Sutherland for gathering support from the Ladies Amateur Golf Association of North Texas to give Houston coaches gift cards to Target and other area businesses to help players buy essentials. Most players left town with only lounge-around clothes. Some don’t even have golf shoes.

Dallas Athletic Club offered to open its doors so the team can practice; they’ll use a gym on SMU’s campus.

“The golfing community is pretty cool,” said Chadwell.

The University of Houston is scheduled to reopen next Tuesday, but Chadwell isn’t sure that’s realistic. When they do return to campus, he sees volunteer work taking the place of practice. The Cougars are scheduled to open the season Sept. 15 in Franklin, Tenn., at the Mason Rudolph Championship.

“Whenever we do go home golf is going to be so secondary,” he said.

Courtesy of Beth Ann Nichols (golfweek.com)

Mickelson credits Tiger for helping him reach his ‘level of success’

Tiger Woods’ impact on the game of golf is undeniable. According to one of Woods’ biggest rivals, however, his impact on the games’ players was equally indelible.

On Tuesday, Mickelson was candid about the influence Woods had on his game, fitness, and overall success.

“I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving,” Mickelson said, according to Golf.com’s Kevin Cunningham. “He forced everybody to get the best out of themselves. He forced everybody to work a little bit harder.”

Tiger’s dedication to fitness and his commitment to staying in the best shape possible led Mickelson to change his own approach on the physical side of the game, leading Lefty to a career littered with trophies.

“I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”

Thursday’s opening-round action of the PGA Championship from Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., will mark the 100th major tournament of Mickelson’s storied career.

courtesy of Flip Livingstone (The Score)

The 10 Best Golf Resorts in North America — Chosen By You!

It’s only fitting that The Broadmoor has climbed to the top of our biennial resort rankings. Though lofty heights are nothing new for the venerable retreat in the Colorado Rockies, this is the perennial contender’s first trip to the summit. In a mild upset, the Broadmoor narrowly edged out the reigning champ, Bandon Dunes.

As always, the quality of the golf was paramount in tabulating the votes. We enjoy puffy pillows and plummy wine as much as you do, but challenging layouts and tee-box panoramas come first in our book. As you cruise through our list of Platinum, Gold and Silver medal winners, warm yourselves with late-winter thoughts of emerald fairways and hot-stone massages. This year, 15 first-time medal winners made the list, including the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, our highest-ranked newcomer.

Oh, and when you call the folks at the reservation desks, ask about special packages — including all-you-can-play deals. You might save a few bucks, or land a bigger room. And during your stay, remember two important things: (1) Never leave a birdie putt short. (2) Never tell your buddies about the mud mask and facial you had at the spa. That’s our little secret.

The Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colo. 855-634-7711, broadmoor.com

Since legendary entrepreneur Philip Anschutz purchased The Broadmoor in 2011, management has made impressive renovations to the hotel and its restaurants, and also dramatically upgraded the amenity package. The Broadmoor’s jump to the top spot in our rankings was powered by a runaway win in the Service category and top-5 showings in both Lodging and Food & Drink. True, the golf (three 18-hole tracks) isn’t as spectacular as it is at some iconic resorts. But the East Course — featuring design elements courtesy of Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones — is strong enough to have hosted both the 2008 U.S. Senior Open and the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open. And, well, the Rocky Mountains will just have to suffice as the backdrop for your on-course heroics.

The American Club
Kohler, Wis. 800-344-2838, americanclubresort.com

Since we introduced the Platinum medal category in 2008, this heartland haven has earned four straight slots in the Top 3. And now the historic hotel has been remodeled, as has the adjacent Carriage House Annex. Good news for beer-and-brat fans: The celebrated Horse & Plow restaurant has reopened. The Golf score is the strong suit at The American Club. The revamped Blackwolf Run course wowed competitors at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. And the Whistling Straits track, with its countless bunkers and stunning Lake Michigan vistas, is muscular and demanding enough to host both the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2020 Ryder Cup.

The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. 855-453-4858, greenbrier.com

The Greenbrier is an old reliable among our Platinum winners—it just exudes tradition. Yet its golf greatness derives from the fact that it never stands still. Consider the 101-year-old Old White TPC course, one of the few C.B. Macdonald masterworks open to the public. The course was lovingly restored by Lester George in 2006, and more recently it was further toughened up to challenge the big boys on the PGA Tour, in the Greenbrier Classic. Even with its three acclaimed tracks — the Greenbrier Course hosted the 1979 Ryder Cup, Seve’s first — it’s the resort’s top-6 rankings in Lodging, Food & Drink and Service that keep it in rarified air.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon, Ore. 888-345-6008, bandondunes.com

The Oregon gem didn’t take long to become a legend. The oldest of its four full-length courses is only 14, but Bandon Dunes already has a place in our golf psyches. There’s something about its mix of earth and sea and sky that thrills. Although Bandon finished No. 2 overall, it won the coveted top spot in the Golf rankings. And this year, reviewers rave about Bandon’s new small-ball offerings: Bandon Preserve, a brilliant 13-hole par-3 course courtesy of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and The Punchbowl, America’s most entertaining putting course. This 3.5-acre gathering place — or is it a watering hole? — features drink holders at every tee.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island, S.C. 800-654-2924, kiawahresort.com

When Rory Mcllroy lapped the field with his record-setting march to victory at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah’s Ocean Course, the world was reminded of the track’s character and the resort’s beauty. Four other top-notch tracks lift Kiawah to a Top 10 Golf ranking, and the eco-sensitive resort on the Atlantic Ocean grabs top-20 spots in every other category. The pristine beaches are exquisite, the tennis program world-class, and the Sanctuary Hotel (its decor conjuring thoughts of Gone with the Wind) is a charmer. The Atlantic is a constant companion at Kiawah. As you sip a Dark & Stormy (spiced rum, ginger beer and lime) at the Ryder Cup Bar while you gaze out at the course and the waves, you’ll feel both the energy and serenity of the sea.

Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
Greensboro, Ga. 706-467-0600, ritzcarltonlodge.com

This boutique-sized property with massive golf offerings slipped out of our Top 10 in 2012. Now under new ownership, Reynolds Plantation is back in the Platinum elite. It boasts a lovely lakeside location midway between Atlanta and Augusta — a stay would be the perfect capper to Masters week. The renovated rooms emphasize gracious Southern stylings, and the restaurant, Georgia’s Bistro — with timber ceiling beams and a baronial fireplace — has been polished up. And they haven’t forgotten the golf. A reworking of the Landing course by original architect Bob Cupp, with former Augusta National superintendent Billy Fuller, has restored The Ritz at Reynolds to its elevated status.

Pebble Beach Resorts
Pebble Beach, Calif. 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com

We could treat the three resorts — the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero — as separate properties. But the shuttle system, shared facilities and overall high quality make them feel like one dream-fulfilling package. Always a top-5 scorer in Golf (Those rocks! Those seals! That ocean!), Pebble has upped the ante yet again, this time by tweaking the greens and expanding the practice facility. The biggest upgrade in dining options is The Bench, a new restaurant that overlooks the 18th hole at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Wood-roasted entrées, relaxed ambience and Instagram-worthy views of the Pacific have already made it wildly popular with both guests and locals. It’s no surprise that Pebble…well, rocks.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii 808-325-8000, fourseasons.com/hualalai

As if you needed another reason to visit paradise, this multiple Platinum winner on the dry north Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island earned the No. 1 ranking in Lodging. Guests rave about the resort’s roomy, low-slung bungalows, which melt into the landscape and offer a seamless transition between indoors and out. For good measure, the property scored a third-place finish in Service and a fourth in Food & Drink. There’s plenty to tweet home about on the oceanside Jack Nicklaus course; it’s friendly, lava-lined and packed with holes demanding enough to test the Champions Tour pros each year in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Pinehurst Resort
Pinehurst, N.C. 855-235-8507, pinehurst.com

This June, Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 will make history when it hosts both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks. Donald Ross’s classic course — and those famed crowned greens — will be ready, having been brilliantly restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Many of the resort’s other golf venues have been polished up as well. They’ve converted the bent-grass greens on courses 1, 3 and 8 to the smoother-rolling ultra-dwarf Bermuda. And they’ve added a new 18-hole putting course, Thistle Dhu, so named because when steamship magnate James Barber first saw the property on which he built his estate — and the first miniature golf course in the country — he is rumored to have said, “This’ll do.”

Sea Island Resort
Sea Island, Ga. 888-732-4752, seaisland.com

If you’re a charter member of Foodie Nation, take note: Sea Island won the resort Food & Drink crown. That’s quite a coup given all the good eats out there. A new dining option, Tavola, merges classic Italian with traditional Lowcountry accents in a casual environment. And Sea Island is also top 5 across the board: No. 3 for Lodging (both for its Lodge and for its historic Cloister), No. 4 for Service, and stellar as to the golf. The Retreat Course was reworked by Davis Love Ill and his brother Mark in 2000. The Plantation course makes magic of marshes, and the links-style Seaside course, host to the McGladrey Classic, is both beautiful and Tour-tough.

Courtesy of Joe Passov (golf.com)

9 things you need to know about British Open host Royal Birkdale

Here’s what you need to know about Royal Birkdale Golf Club, the host of the 2017 British Open Championship.

1. Royal Birkdale, located in Southport, England, has hosted the British Open nine times, starting in 1954. Past winners include Arnold Palmer in 1961, Lee Trevino in 1971, Johnny Miller in 1976 and Tom Watson in 1983. Padraig Harrington was the most recent winner at the course, in 2008.

2. It is one of three courses in northern England that’s in the Open Rota.

3. Birkdale was opened in 1889 and became an early pioneer in women’s golf when club members voted to allow women to play the course for three days each week.

4. In 1890, the first women were elected as members. One of the first tournaments hosted at Birkdale was a ladies’ championship.

5. In the 1969 Ryder Cup, Birkdale was the site of the famous “Concession.” Jack Nicklaus conceded the 18th hole to Tony Jacklin in what the club’s history calls “a gesture of supreme sportsmanship which has never been forgotten.” The match ended in a 16-16 tie. He finished T4 and two off the lead.

MORE: The outrageous and crazy adventures of the Claret Jug

6. Justin Rose burst onto the scene at the 1998 Open at Birkdale. Playing as a 17-year-old amateur, Rose shot 66 in the second round and was tied for second place through 36 holes. He turned professional when the tournament was over.

7. At three over, Harrington’s 2008 score was the highest to par of the nine Open winners to conquer Birkdale. That week the course was blasted by 20-mph winds and driving rain. In the final round, only three players managed to break par.

8. Harrington is the only Irish winner at Birkdale. No Brit has ever won the Open there.

9. You can play where the pros do, as Royal Birkdale is open to the public, but only at certain times. Check the website for more details.

courtesy of Golf Wire

Sergio was golf’s tragic figure; now he’s the champion he was meant to be

In the shadow of Medinah Country Club’s majestic clubhouse, at a PGA Championship long ago, Ben Crenshaw waited for his audience with the boy king. Crenshaw was a month away from serving as captain of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team, so he was closely eyeing the final round of the PGA, watching to see how both teams might gel. Just moments earlier, Sergio Garcia had run out of holes in a thrilling duel with Tiger Woods, failing to claim the Wanamaker trophy but securing a spot in his very first Ryder Cup. “Boy, that kid is gonna be a handful,” Crenshaw said. Finally, the young Spaniard materialized, and Crenshaw offered him a manly hug and some down-home consolation: “You didn’t get this one, but you’re gonna win so many of these you’re gonna get tired of lifting trophies.”

Of course, who didn’t get swept up in the turn-of-the-century Sergiomania? The kid had it all, including a boyishness that transcended borders. But what Crenshaw couldn’t know was that the “99 PGA Championship would propel Woods to the most dominant run of golf ever played. Poor Sergio had his spirit crushed along the way, and by the time the 2002 U.S. Open rolled around, his public image had already curdled, culminating in him flipping the bird to a Bethpage gallery that was mercilessly heckling him. (Sometimes the jeers turned into mockery, as when Sergio showed up for the final round of the 2006 Open Championship, and another showdown with Woods, in an all-yellow outfit. Overserved fans took to calling him both “Big Bird” and “Banana Man.”) Over the next decade and a half, Garcia did indeed manage to lift many trophies, but of course no majors. He had good health, immense wealth and a string of glamorous girlfriends, and yet he somehow became a tragic figure—what the British tabloids liked to call a “nearly man.”

It was when we finally gave up on Garcia that he became the player he was meant to be, winning the 2017 Masters in one of the grittiest, most satisfying performances ever. Decades from now they’ll be singing songs in Spanish taverns about Garcia’s par out of the hazard on the 13th on Sunday, and his flag-hunting approach shots on 15 and 18, to say nothing of the decisive birdie in sudden death. That putt caught a piece of the hole and tumbled in. Back in the old days, when Garcia saw himself as a dogged victim of inexorable fate, his ball would have done a power lip-out and trickled off the green.

Much was made at Augusta of how Garcia has been changed by his fiancée Angela Akins, the former Golf Channel talent. Her father Marty is an underrated part of the story. Just as Dustin Johnson is benefiting from the hard-won wisdom of his future father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, Garcia has fallen under the thrall of Marty, an All-American quarterback at the University of Texas who was such a schoolboy legend that LBJ personally recruited him on behalf of the Longhorns. On Saturday evening at this year’s Masters, I found Marty on a couch in the Augusta National locker room. He had tired of battling the crowds and was plopped in front of a large TV. “I want to see his eyes,” he said of Garcia. And what did his future son-in-law’s visage reveal? “I see confidence,” he told me. “He’s not afraid of anyone or anything.”

Where does Garcia go from here? Ben Hogan won eight majors after he turned 37. Phil Mickelson nabbed multiple majors at an advanced age. Maybe Garcia will go on a run to secure his place in the pantheon. Or maybe this Masters will be the exclamation point on a very good career. Either way, the man has already been made whole.

courtesy of (golf.com) Alan Shipnuck

Thanks for the memories: the 14 greatest Phil-Bones moments

May 26, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Phil Mickelson gets direction from his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay before teeing off on the 9th hole during the second round of the Dean & Deluca Invitational golf tournament at Colonial Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-327610 ORIG FILE ID: 20170526_pjc_si4_894.JPG

Twenty-five years and 41 Tour wins later, one of golf’s most enduring relationships is over. As Phil Mickelson and his longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay part ways, we look back at 14 of their most memorable moments together.

PHIL, BONES. BONES, PHIL

As in a Hollywood bromance, the two meet cutely during a practice round at the 1992 Players Championship. Bones is caddying for Scott Simpson, who is playing with Gary McCord and a certain four-time All-American out of Arizona State. Phil has his father, Phil Sr., on his bag. After the round, Phil is signing autographs when he turns to Bones. “Are you interested?”  Um, you think?  “I mean, everybody was,” Bones recalls.

AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT

Their first on-course action together takes place during the sectional qualifiers in Memphis for the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Qualify, schmalify. Phil shatters the course record with Bones at his side.

THE FIRST WIN OF MANY

Phil already has one Tour win to his name: the 1991 Telecom Open, which he captured as an amateur. His first victory with Bones, though, comes soon enough. It’s at the 1993 Buick Invitational at Riviera, where Phil closes with a 65 to win by four.

WHAT A CATCH

Mickelson swings left but he throws right. A reminder comes before the final round of the 2001 PGA Championship, where he and Bones, like father and son, play catch in the parking lot.

FROM ONE GOLF NERD TO ANOTHER

“Caddying at a molecular level,” David Feherty calls it, after microphones capture a not-atypical conversation between Bones and his man at the 2012 Northern Trust Open in L.A. Should Phil hit a normal hook? A rounded hook? A standard “Pelz”? What about the wind? The ball could come it hot, or “side-slash” toward the flagstick. On and on it goes. Their chat is catnip for golf nerds. As for the shot itself? Ho-hum. Six feet from the cup.

FAMILY FIRST, BUT PHIL A CLOSE SECOND

It’s 2008, and Mackay’s brother, Tom, is getting married in Vermont—on the Saturday of the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. Phil tells Bones to take the week off. Yeah, right. Instead, Mackay attends the morning wedding, then charters a flight back to Boston so he can loop for Phil that afternoon.

IT IS HIS TIME? YES! (AND BONES’S TIME, TOO)

After 12 years together and many close calls, it finally happens: trailing by three on the back nine on Sunday, Mickelson puts on a closing charge that culminates with a dramatic birdie bid on 18. The putt drops. Phil and Bones embrace in celebration of Mickelson’s first major win.

THE BREAKING POINT?

In announcing their split, Mickelson emphasized that no single incident led to the decision. But you know the Internet: people speculate. One moment commentators have zeroed in on took place on the 17th tee at TPC Sawgrass during the second round of this year’s Players Championship, where Phil and Bones engaged in a testy exchange over club selection. (“I understand what I need to do,” Phil said at one point. “I need numbers right now.”) Mickelson wound up hitting a hard wedge. Bones had reportedly suggested nine-iron. The ball found the water behind the island green.

A READ HE’D LIKE TO DO OVER

If caddies could take mulligans, Bones says he would like to take another crack at reading Phil’s birdie putt on the 17th hole at Pinehurst during Sunday’s final round. Bones thinks it will roll straight. The ball breaks right. Bye-bye, birdie. Mickelson winds up losing to Payne Stewart by one.

THE SELF-INFLICTED MASSACRE AT WINGED FOOT

On the cusp of winning the U.S. Open, Phil pulls driver on the 18th tee and blasts an errant shot into the trees. A failed attempt at an aggressive recovery shot later, and Mickelson is on his way to a double bogey, his title hopes dashed. “I’m such an idiot,” Phil says afterwards. Asked about the incident later, Bones says that given a second chance, he wouldn’t advise his man any differently.

THE SHOT

Sunday at the 2010 Masters. Phil’s tee shot finds the pine straw to the right of the 13th fairway. Two-hundred seven yards from the pin. A narrow gap between the trees. Rae’s Creek awaiting a sloppy shot. Bones raises the possibility of laying up. Mickelson is having none of it. “So I back off,” Bones recalled later, “and now we’re waiting for the green to clear.” The rest is history. A six-iron rifled to four feet, and a shot that lives on in Masters lore.

THE TEND HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD

Is Phil kidding? No, he’s not. During the second round of the 2017 Masters, Mickelson asks Bones to tend the flagstick for him as he plays a 61-yard wedge shot on the 13th hole, something he also famously did on the closing hole at Torrey Pines in 2011.

MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE

Under ordinary circumstances, Mackay would no sooner miss a tee time than John Daly would miss a meal. But circumstances aren’t normal at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship, where a stomach virus strikes Bones before the start of play on Friday. Bones starts the round but is too ill to finish. “You can’t replace somebody like Bones,” Phil says. But in what looks in retrospect like foreshadowing, Phil’s brother, Tim, fills in for Bones on the bag.

A WEEPY END TO AN OPEN

There’s not a dry eye on the 18th green at Muirfield as Mickelson captures the Claret Jug. After an emotional embrace, player and caddie walk off the course together, arms over each other’s shoulder. Phil is obviously choked up. Bones is shown on camera, wiping away tears. You were probably dewy-eyed, too.

  • Courtesy of Josh Sens (golf.com)

U.S. Open 2017: Johnny Miller pours cold water on Justin Thomas breaking his record

As Justin Thomas broke Johnny Miller’s record for low score in relation to par at the U.S. Open, people far and wide made cracks about the NBC announcer not enjoying the moment. Turns out, they weren’t too far from the truth.

Thomas shot a third-round 63 at Erin Hills — punctuated by an eagle on No. 18 — to match Miller’s famed final round score from the 1973 U.S. Open. But his nine-under-par total was one better than Johnny’s eight under at Oakmont.

RELATED: Our favorite Johnny Millerisms

Yet Miller seemed to pour some cold water on JT’s record-breaking round when Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner spoke to him on Saturday evening:

“Taking nothing away from nine-under par — nine under is incredible with U.S. Open pressure,” Miller said. “But it isn’t a U.S. Open course that I’m familiar with the way it was set up.” Hmm. . .

Of course, Miller has a point. Erin Hills, which is hosting its first major championship, has yielded unusually low scores for a U.S. Open. In addition to Thomas’ 63, there have already been four other rounds of 65, and more players broke par on Saturday than during any previous third round at the tournament. But. . . he still comes across as slightly bitter.

RELATED: The winners & losers from Day 3 at the U.S. Open

Although, Miller’s mixed reaction (he did give Thomas credit for going that low under U.S. Open pressure) shouldn’t come as a surprise. NBC booth partner Dan Hicks said during a recent Golf Digest podcast that Miller wasn’t too thrilled about Henrik Stenson shooting 63 in the final round of last year’s Open Championship. Not that we blame him. And he’s certainly not the first athlete to root against young whippersnappers coming after their predecessors’ records.

On the bright side for Johnny, he didn’t have to sit in the booth and analyze Thomas’ round on live TV. And we’re pretty sure this is the first time he’s ever trended on Twitter.

courtesy of Alex Myers (golfdigest.com)

Mickelson details what needs to happen for him to play U.S. Open, and now we wait

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a 68.

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a two-under 68 on Sunday, but when he plays next is anyone’s guess.

Mickelson said earlier this month he plans to skip next week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in California, which is the same day as the opening round in Wisconsin. Mickelson is a U.S. Open victory away from the career grand slam and has finished as the runner-up in the event six times.

After his round on Sunday, CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis asked Mickelson what needs to happen for him to make his tee time on Thursday, which is 3:20 p.m. EST.

“I need a four-hour delay,” Mickelson said. “I need a minimum four-hour delay most likely. That’s the way I kind of mapped it out. I should get into the air right around my tee time or just prior, it’s about a three-hour-and-twenty-minute flight, and by the time I get to the course I would need a four-hour delay. Last night there was a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday; right now it’s 20 percent. Who knows. … It’s not looking good, but it’s totally fine.”

Mickelson, who hasn’t seen or played Erin Hills, added that he plans to keep his game sharp the next few days just in case.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Golfer withdraws from U.S. Open sectional qualifier after airline loses his golf clubs

TELA, HONDURAS – MARCH 24: Michael Buttacavoli of the United States tees off on the 18th hole during the second round of the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Honduras Open presented by Indura Golf Resort at Indura Golf Resort on March 24, 2017 in Tela, Honduras. (Photo by Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)

We’ve heard some horror stories through the years with airlines losing or damaging golf clubs, but this one is particularly sad. On Monday, Michael Buttacavoli was set to try to qualify for the U.S. Open — until his sticks never showed up. What a nightmare.

No big deal, American Airlines. It’s just the U.S. OPEN.

Buttacavoli, a 29-year-old currently playing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica Tour, advanced through local qualifying by shooting 69 at The Club at Emerald Hills (Hollywood, Fla.) last month. He was to play in Monday’s sectional qualifier at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla., where an early 7:26 tee time gave him a small, but doable travel window after flying overnight to Miami from Ecuador after finishing T-51 in the Quito Open.

“I was met with supportive parents with food in the car and stuff I needed. My brother was going to caddie for me. I figured I’d get there, have a 30-40 minute warmup, and go,” Buttacavoli said when reached by phone on Monday. “My bag just never came.”

Instead, Buttacavoli, who has made it to sectional qualifying three other times, but never gotten into the U.S. Open, was forced to scramble back and forth between the baggage carousel and the counter, losing valuable time. His clothes made it off the plane, but he believes his golf bag got lost in the shuffle with clubs of other players on the flight who were on their way to the Dominican Republic for the next PGA Tour Latinoamerica event.

Following his initial tweet Monday morning, he exchanged messages with American Airlines:

And then with a fellow golfer:

PGA Tour pro Zac Blair weighed in wondering why he didn’t at least try with a rental set at the site with 49 players vying for just three spots.

Tiger Woods found asleep at the wheel, didn’t know where he was when arrested for DUI

Fourteen-time major-winner Tiger Woods was found asleep in the driver’s seat and didn’t know where he was when he was arrested for DUI early Monday morning, according to the police report released Tuesday.

The report of Woods’s Memorial Day DUI arrest was released by the Jupiter Police Department Tuesday, and it details an alarmingly dangerous string of events for Woods, who last played professional golf in February.

According to the report, Officer Palladino saw Woods’s black Mercedes stopped in the right lane with the vehicle running, brake lights on and right blinker flashing at 4:22 a.m. The officer reported that Woods was alone in the car, had his seat belt on and was found asleep at the wheel.

“Woods had extremely slow and slurred speech,” according to the report, which listed Woods’s attitude as “sluggish, sleepy, unable to walk alone.”

Woods, 41, blew a 0.000 in two breathalyzer tests. He said in his statement Monday night that alcohol was not a factor, instead that it was “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” According to the report, Woods said he was taking Solarex, Vicodin, Torix and Vioxx (but that Vioxx hadn’t been taken this year).

Woods told the officer he was “coming from LA California from golfing” and that he “did not know where he was. Woods had changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from. Woods asked how far from his house he was.”

During his field sobriety test, Woods was not able to maintain a starting position, according to the report, and missed his heel to his toe each time while trying to walk a straight line. He stepped off line several times and needed to use his arms to balance himself. After police repeated the instructions, Woods again failed to maintain a starting position. Woods also struggled to maintain a starting position when conducting a one-leg stand and when placing his finger to his nose. During Woods’s one-leg stand test, he didn’t raise his leg off the ground farther than six inches. He placed his foot onto the ground several times for balance.

The officer asked Woods if he understood the Romberg test (reciting the alphabet backwards). He responded, “Yes, recite the National Anthem backwards,” according to the report. Woods eventually completed the task.

According to the report, Woods did take a urine test, but results of that have not yet been made available. Woods will be arraigned on July 5.

Woods last played pro golf on Feb 2., when he shot 77 to open the Dubai Desert Classic. He withdrew the next day citing back spasms. On April 20 he announced he had undergone his fourth back surgery.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Nate Lashley, who lost his parents and girlfriend in plane accident, is close to earning his tour card

QUITO, ECUADOR – SEPTEMBER 18: Nate Lashley of the U.S. final 18th hole during the final round of the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Copa Diners Club International at Quito Golf and Tennis Club on September 18, 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)

Nate Lashley won the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship on Sunday, the first Web.com Tour title in his career. At 34, Lashley is second on the circuit’s money list, in solid position to earn his PGA Tour card. In itself, a minor-league journeyman finally reaching the show, while touching, is not particularly newsworthy. But once you learn what Lashley had to overcome to reach this precipice, he’ll instantly earn your rooting interest.

While he was a junior at the University of Arizona, Lashley’s parents and his girlfriend visited him in Oregon as Lashley competed in the 2004 NCAA West Regional. After the tournament, Lashley returned to Tucson while his parents and girlfriend were set to fly to their hometown of Scottsbluff, Neb. However, he began to worry when he didn’t hear from the trio. He would find out three days later they were killed in a plane crash near Gannett Peak in Wyoming.

“It was a huge part of my life,” Lashley said in a 2016 interview with the Lake County News Sun. “It was pretty tough for quite a while, definitely for a few years. I tried to use golf in college as something to do other than always think about it. Golf is very mental. It was difficult to play and tough because you always are going to think about it.”

Being a mini-tour player is a rough go for any player, let alone one in their mid-30s. But after the tragedy, Lashley realizes golf’s spot in the larger context of life.

“It puts some perspective because you never know what’s going to happen,” Lashley said. “It makes golf a little easier from looking at the perspective that golf isn’t such a big deal.”

Lashley has bounced around the world for almost 12 years, yet is finally catching a break. He topped the PGA Tour Latinoamerica money list last year for an invite to the Web.com Tour. Through a third of the season, he’s fourth in scoring average, with three top-10s and six top-25s.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lashley told the Omaha World-Herald after his Sunday victory. “Words can’t really express it. I’m extremely happy and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to be here and be playing well and get a win this week.”

Lashley needs a few more respectable finishes to secure his PGA Tour card for 2018. Still, for the first time in his career, Lashley’s mini-tour marathon has an end in sight. And what a story it would be if he can get cross that finish line.

courtesy of golfdigest.com

Who has more natural talent: John Daly or Tiger Woods? Daly gives his opinion

Tiger Woods and John Daly joke during the Battle at the Bridges back in 2005 in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Fresh off his first win in 13 years at the Insperity Invitational, John Daly answered questions about how his talents compare to Tiger Woods’s on the Dan Patrick Show Monday.

“We’re really close on that,” Daly said, after considering the question for a moment. “But I think his feel around the greens when he was winning all those tournaments was a lot better than anybody’s. You could almost say it was better than Nicklaus … Tiger was always one to two, three, four steps ahead of me in this game. His focus and mentality is probably one of the strongest I’ve ever seen in a golfer.”

Daly compared his own approach to the game to Fuzzy Zoeller’s, Arnold Palmer’s and Lee Trevino’s, saying that he’s “loose and fancy free,” and “not a range rat.” Check out the full clip below.

courtesy of (golfwire)

Sergio wears “green jacket” at soccer match

The green jacket tour continues.

Sergio Garcia traded in the golf course for the pitch on Sunday as he took the ceremonial kick-off at the La Liga Clasico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And of course, he was wearing his Masters green jacket.

Garcia, a Real Madrid fan, was promised this opportunity by the club’s president, Florentino Perez, if he ever won a major. Mission accomplished.

courtesy of golf.com

Lexi Thompson, through tears, addresses ANA snafu: ‘It was kind of a nightmare’

Lexi Thompson pauses after becoming emotional while speaking to reporters about her loss at the ANA Inspiration.

Lexi Thompson, speaking for the first time since losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu earlier this month, likened her four-shot penalty experience to a nightmare.

“I played amazing that week,” Thompson said, through tears. “I don’t think I’ve ever played any better. Just for that to happen…it was kind of a nightmare.”

Thompson is in the field for this week’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, her first tournament since the ANA Inspiration. Thompson was assessed a pair of two-stroke penalties for hitting her ball from the wrong spot on the 17th hole and then signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round of the LPGA’s first major. Her violations, however, didn’t surface until the following day, when a TV viewer called the LPGA to report the potential penalties. She was told of the four-stroke penalty walking off the 12th green Sunday, and went from leading the tournament to trailing by two before her eventual playoff loss.

Following much discussion over social media, the USGA and R&A announced Tuesday an immediate change to the rules of golf in an attempt to protect players from being penalized for infractions that “could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye.” Decision 34-3/10 does not eliminate viewer call-ins.

Thompson said in her press conference that while she could see where the rules officials were coming from, she stands by the fact that she has always played golf by the rules.

“The hardest part, just going through it,” Thompson said, breaking down, “I’ve worked my whole life to have my name on major championship trophies, especially that one. It’s a very special week for me with all the history behind it.”

Thompson said she never intended to mark her ball on the 17th hole during the third round, instead planning to tap in the short putt. But she said she talked herself into marking because she had missed many tap-ins previously. There was nothing in her line, and she referred the condition of the greens as “perfect.”

“I have no reason behind it,” Thompson said of her decision. “I did not mean it at all.

“I mark my ball with a dot and that’s where I focus my eyes on where I want to make contact,” Thompson said. “So when I went to mark it, I just rotated my ball to line up my dot to where my putter would make contact.”

The 22-year-old top-ranked American said she was overwhelmed by the support she received following the loss. She didn’t let it keep her from the game, playing a round with her brothers just two days after the ordeal.

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte said Wednesday that the USGA, per a source, has not ruled out changing the call-in rule. Many pros, reacting to the USGA and R&A change, thought the amendment could have gone one step further to eliminate viewer call-ins. Thompson is in that camp.

“Do I think it’s right?” Thompson said. “Not really, but it’s not my say.”

courtesy of Marika Washchyshyn (golf.com)

Dustin Johnson announces he’ll return to PGA Tour at Wells Fargo Championship

Dustin Johnson, who withdrew from the Masters, last played at the WGC Match Play at the end of March.

Dustin Johnson’s injured back must be feeling better.

The world’s No. 1 player said he’ll return to the PGA Tour at the Wells Fargo Championships at Eagle Point Golf Club from May 4-7.

The Wells Fargo Championship announced Johnson’s status Thursday.

Johnson was among the favorites to win the Masters last week after winning three straight tournaments. But a fall at his rental home hurt his back the day before the year’s first major was to start.

Johnson warmed up last Thursday on the Augusta National practice range and came out to the putting green near the first tee. But he headed off the course and withdrew with a bad back.

Johnson said then he had planned to take three weeks off following the Masters.

courtesy of AP news