Hope @The_Greenbrier drys out soon!! #GreenbrierClassic #hole18-17-1 pic.twitter.com/n2HRUTYpw7

— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) June 23, 2016

Less than two weeks away from The Greenbrier Classic, the iconic West Virgnia resort's golf courses are underwater after major flooding from torrential rains in the southeastern portion of the state.

Thursday rains in Greenbrier County led to the declaration of a state of emergency. Many residents of White Sulphur Springs, the town in which The Greenbrier is located, were stranded in the highest rooms of their homes, awaiting rescue and hoping to avoid the flood waters.

In addition to substantial flood damage, landslides and mudslides have been reported in the mountainous area. Officials said anywhere from 1-4 inches of rain fell in a three-hour period on Thursday evening.

“It’s like nothing I’ve seen,” said Greenbrier owner Jim Justice in a Thursday statement. “But our focus right now isn’t on the property, the golf course or anything else. We’re praying for the people and doing everything we can to get them the help they need.”

Bubba Watson, who has a home in The Greenbrier's Sporting Club development, is in the area. and shared video and imagery of the flooding on the host course, the Old White TPC.

Prayers for @The_Greenbrier & surrounding areas. We are without power & it's still raining. Never seen this much rain! #WestVirginiaBeSafe

— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) June 23, 2016

It's unclear right now if the tournament can still be held, though it appears doubtful. Justice, who is also the Democratic candidate for West Virginia governor, had intended to offer free admission to the tournament as part of a political fight with Republicans in the state legislature over their nearly $4 million in annual support for the event.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How the USGA screwed up at Oakmont and how to fix it

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 24, 2016, 9:34 pm

The Brexit -- the U.K.'s decision to withdraw from the European Union -- may collapse the pound, cost the country billions in economic development and isolate it from the rest of the continent, but it won't affect the makeup of the European Ryder Cup team.

The European Tour, which handles the selection process and management of the biennial matches for the continent, made clear Thursday that the referendum results won't change how their 12-player side is determined.

"The UK remains a geographical part of Europe, even though it will no longer be part of the political or economic structure of the European Union," the European Tour said, according to ESPN.com.

"The criteria for being European in Ryder Cup terms is a geographical one -- from countries who make up the continent of Europe -- not a political or economic one (countries who make up the EU). Therefore the result of the UK referendum has no bearing in Ryder Cup qualification terms."

The likes of Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Andy Sullivan and Lee Westwood could make the team. That won't change.

The European Tour also won't change its flag for the Ryder Cup, continuing to use the same blue-and-gold flag.

"In terms of the flag flown to represent the European Ryder Cup team," the Tour said, "we consider that the blue and gold flag of Europe represents the continent of Europe and, as a broad symbol of Europe as a whole, we therefore plan to continue to use it."

At least one thing didn't get screwed up today by the U.K. vote.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How the USGA screwed up at Oakmont and how to fix it

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 24, 2016, 9:26 pm

At this point, the question isn't who's not playing in the Olympics.

It's: Who actually is playing in the Olympics?

South African Branden Grace became the third player just this week to announce he was removing his name from consideration for the 60-player men's Olympic golf tournament in Brazil in August. Grace, like his fellow countrymen Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, has concerns about Zika virus.

Golf Channel first reported on Grace's decision, confirmed by his representation at IMG.

Grace had been in line to take a spot in the field, but the 11th-ranked player who already won at Harbour Town this year is taking a pass. At this point, the two South African berths in the men's tournament go to world No. 59 Jaco Van Zyl and world No. 101 Brandon Stone.

Add Grace to Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on the list of players this week to say they're not going to make the trek to Rio de Janeiro. These three join Schwartzel, Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Vijay Singh, Tim Wilkinson and Miguel Angel Jimenez on the list of players who have withdrawn their names from consideration.

World No. 1 Jason Day is also on the fence about competing, as are Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Danny Willett.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: How the USGA screwed up at Oakmont and how to fix it

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 24, 2016, 9:17 pm

The USGA's handling of the Dustin Johnson fifth green situation at the U.S. Open was, well, not good. We explain why in detail and try to figure out how to prevent something like this from happening again. We also talk about why we're OK with Rory McIlroy skipping the Olympics over fears of Zika.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle Play MusicTuneInPlayerFM or Stitcher.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 23, 2016, 9:58 pm

Tiger Woods was blunt in his assessment of how the USGA handled penalizing U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson in the final round at Oakmont on Sunday.

"I watched, and as I was alluding to last night, it was awful because no one -- no one knew what was going on," Woods said.

On the fifth green in the final round, Johnson was preparing to putt a 6-footer for par. He took two quick practice strokes next to the ball, then moved his putter head in back of the back. Before soling the putter, the ball moved slightly. Johnson recoiled and called over an official to explain the situation. Johnson said he did nothing to cause the ball to move. Playing partner Lee Westwood agreed. The walking referee concurred and said there should be no penalty under Rule 18-2. 

However, on the 12th tee, USGA officials told Johnson they were reviewing the situation and could penalize him a stroke for the ball moving if they deemed he was "more likely than not" to have caused it to move. They also said the decision on the penalty could wait until the end of the round.

The USGA's decision to wait to penalize meant Johnson had to play knowing he might have to win in regulation by two to avoid a playoff or yet another heartbreaking loss in a major. 

Woods said that was ridiculous.

"D.J. didn't know how he stood. The rest of the guys who were ahead of him didn't understand what was going on. The final group didn't know what was going on. No one had a clue," Woods said.

"Am I tied for the lead, am I leading the tournament, am I one back or am I tied? No one understood where they stood in the tournament so that determines what you're going to do. Am I going to challenge the flag, try and get back there, am I going to play conservative, do I try and hit driver off 17, where do I -- so much depends on scenarios and where you stand to dictate how you play."

Ultimately, Johnson played with a string of pars, except one bogey, before coming to the 18th with a two- or three-shot lead. He made birdie on the last, hitting a 6-iron to 6 feet to lock up a win, no matter what happened. Then the USGA inexplicably gave Johnson the penalty anyhow to reduce the winning margin to three.

"I didn't think it was fair to anybody," Woods said. "It wasn't fair to Dustin, it wasn't fair to other players who had a chance, it just wasn't fair to anyone."

Woods said he wouldn't have been as quiet about it all as Johnson.

"How I would handle it?" Woods said. "You know, I'm a little bit feistier than Dustin so I think I probably would have said a few more things during the round."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 23, 2016, 6:34 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Jason Day doesn't sound like a guy who is long for a long career in golf.

The world No. 1 said Wednesday at PGA Championship media day at Baltusrol Golf Club that he'll stop at the age of 40 to decide if he'll press on, or if he'll walk away from the sport.

"When I get to 40, I'm going to re-evaluate everything and then go from there," Day said. "Because when I get to 40, I would like to see where I'm at in my career because I might want to go, 'You know what, I'm done. I'm just happy with everything,' and I'm going to go off my merry way and I'll probably never pick up a golf club ever again."

Day, father of 3-year-old Dash and 8-month-old Lucy, said his children's interest in the game would be a factor. So, too, would be where he ranks against his peers and if his body, which had given him trouble in the past, held up against the rigors of pro golf.

"But it also depends on if Dash is playing, if Lucy is playing, if I'm still competitive and my body's great, because I'm just trying to extend," he added. "What I'm doing with my body and with my golf game, I'm trying to extend the longevity of my career."

Day has been working with a trainer in hopes of sculpting his body into a condition that would prevent the kinds of injuries that plagued his early career. Pressed on where his fitness is, Day said his trainer estimates the Aussie is some 18 months away from reaching his goal. 

Despite winning 10 times, Day said last week at the U.S. Open that number isn't nearly enough. He's pursuing trophies with the vigor of a desperate man, perhaps aware he won't remain at the top of his game forever. So, Day, who said he has gotten up at 5 a.m. since he was 14 to practice and exercise, will continue to push himself and his body as far as he can until the moment comes when there's something else more important.

"It's over when you don't want to improve anymore. It's over when you're done improving yourself on and off the golf course," Day said. "That's probably the biggest thing, because winning is taken care of by the process that you put into your game. The small victories that you have along the way, with regards to practicing that extra hour when you didn't really want to, or being out there practicing when you didn't want to practice that day. Going to the gym when you felt like, 'You know what, I'll just take a day off and go tomorrow.'"


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 23, 2016, 5:36 pm

Rory McIlroy became the biggest name yet to say he would not compete in the men's Olympic golf tournament. The world No. 4, who had flip-flop-flipped on the issue, arrived at his decision after consulting with his fiancee, Erica Stoll, and the rest of his family about the potential risks of Zika virus.

“I’ve come to realize that my health and my family’s health comes before anything else," McIlroy said in a statement on Wednesday. “Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take.”

McIlroy was slated to represent the Republic of Ireland in the 60-player men's Olympic golf tournament. Initially, McIlroy was on board to compete. However, after winning the Irish Open, McIlroy expressed some reservation about the potential spread of Zika while in Brazil. His fears seemed assuaged when he spoke at the Memorial Tournament before the U.S. Open.

“Even if I do contract Zika, it’s not the end of the world,” he said then.

However, McIlroy has apparently settled on not competing.

The International Golf Federation, the Olympics-recognized governing body of the sport in the Games, issued a statement after McIlroy's announcement: "The IGF is disappointed with Rory’s decision but recognizes that some players will have to weigh personally a unique set of circumstances as they contemplate their participation in golf's historic return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with the Zika virus foremost among them. It is unfortunate that the Zika virus has led to Rory's decision to withdraw from the Olympic Games, knowing how much he was looking forward to taking part. As we have stated before, the Olympics is the world's greatest celebration of sport and we remain excited about golf's return after a 112-year absence. It will truly be a special occasion for our sport and we are confident that the 60 men and 60 women who will represent their respective countries will find it an experience they will cherish forever."

On Thursday, McIlroy's countryman, Graeme McDowell, said he will not compete either. McDowell's wife is pregnant with the couple's second child and due in September. Zika can cause birth defects if a pregnant woman becomes infected with the virus.

"I made the decision many months ago, before I was on the team, that I would not play or travel outside the U.S., where my family and I live, in the weeks running up to the birth," McDowell said. "Unfortunately, I will therefore not be available to replace Rory on the team. I have informed (Irish Olympic golf captain) Paul McGinley and the Olympic Council of Ireland of my decision."

McIlroy and McDowell join Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Vijay Singh and Tim Wilkinson as players who have pulled out. No female players of significance have made a similar announcement.

More names could be coming. World No. 1 Jason Day appears to be leaning toward not competing, saying at PGA Championship media day on Wednesday that he plans to have more children with wife Ellie. Danny Willett has expressed reservations. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler have said they're looking closely at the situation as well.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 23, 2016, 2:16 pm

Rickie Fowler has missed the cut in each of his last three starts, including a disappointing 11-over performance in last week's U.S. Open.

Fortunately for Fowler, missing the cut at Oakmont gave him some time over the weekend to reconnect with golf teach Butch Harmon, working on some basic fundamentals that can go awry for most any pro at any point in a season. With that work put in, Fowler needs to try to figure out Congressional Country Club, a venue he hasn't played well in the past, be it missing the cut in the 2011 U.S. Open or in this tournament.

"I've always loved the look of the golf course," Fowler said Tuesday. "Unfortunately I just haven't been able to play well here yet. It's time to change that."

The Oklahoma State product will have some inside-the-ropes support help him end this pair of skids. For the first two days, the PGA Tour has grouped Fowler with Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas. The three – along with Jordan Spieth, not in the field this week – became social-media and millennial darlings when they broadcast their post-Masters Bahamas vacation, dubbed #SB2K16, all over social media.

Fowler's been pleading for a grouping with these guys. On a week when the field isn't very strong, the PGA Tour obliged.

"It's going to be fun playing with some of our best buds," Fowler said. "I definitely think pairings where you're paired with buddies and you get to go out and feed off each other, it can definitely make a difference.

"So we're all excited about it and we just hope we're feeding off each other with birdies and get everyone going."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:08 am

Just days after winning low amateur honors at Oakmont Country Club, former world No. 1 amateur Jon Rahm joins the paid set. 

The Arizona State product is making his pro debut this week at the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Md.

"This week, I couldn't be more excited," Rahm said. "It's a huge honor to be at Congressional Country Club. I've seen a lot of tournaments here, I've seen a lot of videos of the golf course. It's obviously amazing. My expectations were really high when I came here, and the golf course just exceeded them all."

Rahm has the length that can bring the 2011 U.S. Open host to its beefy knees. He was at the top of the driving distance stats during the U.S. Open, giving Dustin Johnson a run for his money as the guy in the field who make Oakmont look smallest. Coincidentally, Rahm has signed an equipment deal with TaylorMade-adidas Golf, which also sponsors the new U.S. Open champion.

However, Rahm's Open performance wasn't what convinced him that he might be able to play at this level. Rather, it was his T-5 finish in the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open that told the two-time Ben Hogan winner that he could make it on the PGA Tour.

"That week was key in my career," Rahm said. "That week gave me the confidence that I needed to know that I could compete with the best. Doing that in Phoenix, in my hometown with such an ASU crowd support, it was amazing."

The Spaniard starts the difficult quest of earning PGA Tour status fresh out of school this week, with more starts already lined up at opposite-field events like the Barbasol Championship next week, the Barracuda Championship opposite the British Open, as well the John Deere Classic, played opposite the men's Olympic golf tournament.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:00 am

OAKMONT, Pa.—Standing on the 12th tee, Dustin Johnson held a two-stroke lead in the U.S. Open. Then several USGA officials approached Johnson, and his lead might not have been so large after all.

Back on the fifth green, Johnson had stood over a short par putt, then backed off and called in a rules official. His ball had moved. Johnson wanted to let the official know of the movement, and that he had not grounded his club. If he had, he would be facing a one-stroke penalty. [UPDATE: Johnson was indeed penalized, but won the U.S. Open regardless.]

The rules official at the fifth hole was satisfied that Johnson hadn't incurred a penalty, so Johnson continued on, draining the putt.

But video replay may have shown rules officials otherwise. USGA officials approached Johnson on the 12th tee to inform him that the tale of the moving ball wasn't yet finished.

After the discussion with officials on the 12th tee, Johnson's playing partner Lee Westwood appeared to be pleading a case to the USGA officials as they walked toward the fairway. Fox Sports commentator Curtis Strange approached the USGA officials, asking for clarification. They refused.

"Really?" Strange, a two-time U.S. Open winner, wondered aloud.

Yes, really.

USGA officials then informed Johnson that he might be facing a one-stroke penalty. Or he might not. In other words, Johnson would be forced to play the remaining holes not knowing whether he needed to put a two-stroke margin ahead of the rest of the field.

Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director for Open championships, visited the Fox Sports set soon afterward to indicate that the USGA believed the ball had moved because of Johnson's actions, and asked him—during the critical moments of one of the most important tournaments of his life—if he could think of any other reason why the ball might have moved a fraction of an inch. According to Hall, Johnson did not give a definitive answer, which, given the circumstances, was not surprising. However, it is worth noting that the greens have been mowed, pressed, and dried to a fine sheen, and a ball that might not otherwise move could very well move on Oakmont's slick greens.

Three former World No. 1s took to Twitter to scorch the USGA for its decisionmaking:

This is ridiculous... No penalty whatsoever for DJ. Let the guy play without this crap in his head. Amateur hour from @USGA

— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) June 19, 2016

Lemme get this straight.. DJ doesn't address it. It's ruled that he didn't cause it to move. Now you tell him he may have? Now? This a joke?

— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) June 19, 2016

No way DJ gets a penalty. Use some common sense @usga The greens are running 14 and are sloppier than Mount Everest

— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) June 19, 2016
Soon after the officials spoke with Johnson, Shane Lowry drew within one stroke ... or perhaps he was even. No one would know until the end of the round.
Johnson, of course, lost a chance at a playoff in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits when a rules committee determined that Johnson had grounded his club on the 18th hole in a poorly-marked bunker. He missed out on a playoff by a single stroke.
Author: Jay Hart
Posted: June 19, 2016, 10:56 pm

The birdie puns took flight (see?) on Sunday afternoon at Oakmont.

Sergio Garcia, four strokes behind leader Shane Lowry, holed out from a greenside bunker at the 8th to notch an impressive 2 at the tricky par-3. And then, somewhere between the green and the walkway over the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Garcia found himself a little friend:

Sergio Garcia holes out from the bunker for birdie, picks up another birdie from the rough pic.twitter.com/T2DykZ4JDR

— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) June 19, 2016

Yes, Garcia managed to save two birdies on one hole.

Yahoo Sports spoke to the woman in pink, who informed us that the bird was taken to the trees and released. We'll have to wait for Garcia's side of the story until he finishes his round. The bird was unavailable for comment.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 19, 2016, 9:21 pm

Jordan Spieth. (AP)Jordan Spieth won last year's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay by keeping his head while those around him lost it. He wasn't quite so lucky this year, slipping and faltering around Oakmont half a dozen strokes behind the leaders. 

Spieth entered the day eight strokes behind leader Shane Lowry. Spieth had said after Saturday's rounds that he would need to "pull a Johnny Miller"—i.e. shoot a 63, the number Miller shot in 1973 to win another Oakmont U.S. Open.

As unlikely as that was, Spieth cemented the impossibility with a triple-bogey at the 194-yard, par-3 sixth. Here's how the carnage went down. After escaping a greenside bunker with his second shot, Spieth found himself 16 feet from the hole. And from there:

Shot 3: 20-foot putt, four feet to hole
Shot 4: Eight-foot putt, five feet to hole
Shot 5: Seven-foot putt, two feet to hole
Shot 6: Two-foot putt for triple bogey

Yep, that'll do it. That nightmare left Spieth at +8 and looking toward the Open Championship. Hey, at least this time he didn't lose the tournament on the back nine. Small victories.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 19, 2016, 7:07 pm

The U.S. Open trophy at Oakmont. (AFP)Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! As is always the case, the U.S. Open concludes on Father’s Day, which means Dad has carte blanche to watch golf all the live-long afternoon. The weather delays from Thursday still resonate; the third round didn’t end until Sunday morning, giving the leaders only a few hours of sleep Saturday night and a few hours of rest Sunday morning. Here’s what you need to know heading into Sunday’s final round.

Where we stand: Third-round play finally concluded Sunday morning, with Shane Lowry carding two more birdies to extend his lead to four strokes over Andrew Landry, the 2016 Cinderella story. They'll be in the final group, which tees off at 3:30 p.m. ET. 

In all, only six players remain in red figures: Lowry (-7), Landry and Dustin Johnson (-3), Lee Westwood and Daniel Summerhays (-2) and Branden Grace (-1).

End of heartbreak? Sunday’s leaderboard features the three most notable active members of the Best Player Never To Win A Major club. A victory by Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood or Dustin Johnson would set off waves of sympathy across the sport; all three of these men have been so very close so many times. Westwood was the last man out before two recent playoffs for the ages: Tiger Woods vs. Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008 and Stewart Cink vs. Tom Watson in the Open Championship in 2009, plus he was caught and run down by Phil Mickelson at Augusta in 2010. DJ’s major breakdowns are nightmare fuel, from a Whistling Straits bunker fiasco to a Pebble Beach collapse to last year’s three-putt from 12 feet to lose Chambers Bay. Garcia has had 20 top 10s in the 70 majors he’s played, including four second-place finishes. All three are more than due.

The Shane Lowry story: Lowry spent the third round stepping on the gas while everyone else edged their way around Oakmont. He’s not particularly well known to American audiences, but he’s won acclaim in Europe and his native Ireland, where he won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009. Much like Masters champion Danny Willett, he’s been building a rep across the pond and arrives in the United States ready and able to capture any major. Lowry’s 7-under score after 54 holes tied Ernie Els in 1994 for the lowest mark at Oakmont; Els, for his part, won that particular tournament.

Andrew Landry’s fairytale rolls on: Look, nobody really expected Andrew Landry to even compete this week; one Vegas sports book reportedly took just one bet on Landry, at 1000-1 odds, for just $5. Even when he tied the score for the lowest first round at Oakmont, nobody really believed in him. So the fact that the 624th-ranked player in the world stuck around until late in the third round, when the bogeys started to pile up, is impressive enough in itself. But tied for second at 3-under, in the final pairing at the U.S. Open? Come on. That’s great theater right there.

Jason Day’s time: The Big Three vs. The Field was the talk of every pre-U.S. Open thinkpiece, the idea being that Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were the equal of every other player teeing off at Oakmont. Not so; McIlroy missed the cut with a late collapse, Spieth was inconsistent every round, and Day began the week with an uncharacteristically bogey-heavy performance. But a 4-under third round left Day (+1) inside the top 10 heading into the final round, and the eight players ahead of him have a combined total of zero majors.

Keep an eye on: Branden Grace, who was right in the mix for last year’s U.S. Open until blasting a late drive onto the train tracks at Chambers Bay and taking himself out of contention. Also watch out for the nattily-attired, scientifically-minded Bryson DeChambeau (+1), playing in his first major as a professional and sitting neatly inside the top 10. Also watch for American Daniel Summerhays, who posted one of the lowest scores of the week with his second-round 65. He’s played in only three majors in his career, but a strong finish at Oakmont will get him invited to a few more.

Wicked Oakmont: Heavy rains earlier in the week softened up and slowed down Oakmont’s legendarily slick greens, giving players every opportunity to post low scores as the course dried out. Some took advantage; others, like Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, did not. Oakmont will play its toughest on Sunday, and combined with the USGA’s (and the club membership’s) desire to make this golf’s most brutal test, the players are going to look a whole lot like you do out there on the course. Whichever player has the physical dexterity and mental toughness to deal with the madness will be very happy indeed come Sunday evening.

The 63 factor: Oakmont is the home of one of the most remarkable rounds in major championship history, Johnny Miller’s 63 to win the U.S. Open in 1973. Miller had entered the day in 12th place, six strokes behind the leaders, giving hope to 20 players in the exact same position or better this week. Expect to hear plenty about Miller's landmark on Sunday, and deservedly so.

The final round will begin Sunday afternoon on Fox. Should a playoff be necessary, it will run 18 holes and take place on Monday. Enjoy the tournament!

 

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 19, 2016, 12:25 pm

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OAKMONT, Pa. -- Jason Day tried taking a page from Tiger Woods' playbook on Saturday.

The world No. 1 tried to scare the inexperienced and unsuccessful pack of leaders into coming back to him.

"I felt like if I can just put my name on the score board, hopefully they'll start to slow down a little bit," Day said Saturday night.

At the start of the week, Day said he's never felt more stressed than he does right now. Late in another long day, he tried to project that stress on the guys ahead of him.

It's an old Tiger trick, when he would make fields tremble with fear as he slashed and charged his way up the leaderboard. When Woods' name went up, others' often went the opposite direction. That's precisely what Day did to start his third round of this disjointed U.S. Open. Day made four birdies in the first five holes, nearly drawing back to even par for the U.S. Open, just before the leaders were set to start the third round at Oakmont.

Day then got stuck, making six pars in a row. That helped Day move up the leaderboard, which, now halted, only has six players under par for the championship. However, with an eagle on the par-5 fourth, Day got back to even par for the first time since he teed off on Thursday. After missing with his tee shot, Day hit a 4-iron toward the green from 260 yards, finding the back of the putting surface. Faced with a slick, downhill swinger, Day, who leads the PGA Tour in putting, drained it.

"It was a tough putt, but one of those ones where you pick up and you run with it because you're not really expecting to make an eagle there, especially where I was," he said.

The Aussie couldn't hang on, however, dropping a shot at the seventh. A pair of pars into the house, and Day had carded a 4-under 66, tied with Branden Grace for the clubhouse best in Round 3. Now, Day gets the benefit of sleeping in for the first time all week.

Shane Lowry, the leader on the course at 5 under par, still has four holes left. He'll have to come back, along with the rest of the unfinished portion of the 67-player weekend field, to restart the third round at 7 a.m. For Lowry, who went off in the next-to-last group, just before 5 p.m., on Saturday, he'll need to play 22 holes of golf on Sunday. With lots of sun and little wind expected, the 85-degree temperatures could take their toll on the returning players.

Day? He'll get up, have breakfast with his wife and kids and have an opportunity to relax.

"So that really does help a lot, especially in the temperature that we're playing in, more so lately, later in the week," Day said.

Day made his charge and used his Tiger trick. Now he'll try to do something Woods could never do: win a major from behind. Woods won all 14 of his majors

Woods has been mentoring Day for a while now, clearly seeing something in the world No. 1 that leads him to believe he could be just as prolific and intimidating. However, Woods has said he won't give Day a step-by-step guide to world domination.

"All I say is, I'm not going to tell how to make your game better. Ask it the other way around, of how I did it, and I'll answer it that way," Woods said in May at Congressional Country Club. "Jason asks great questions, in-depth questions, and he wants to get better."

Sunday is an opportunity for Day to show he's gotten better, to employ some of what's learned from Tiger and on his own in the heat of battle.

Day still had one champion's device left to use before he went home on Saturday night. Like so many other major winners before him who were looking for the slightest edge to aid their comeback bid, Day used the power of the podium to not so subtly plead for Sunday to be the most difficult day of this championship.

"I just want it to play hard and fast," Day said. "I think the harder the better, like a normal U.S. Open Sunday should be. I think it would be fun for everyone."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 19, 2016, 1:52 am

When you're watching Dustin Johnson in a major, you know what you're going to get: moments of astonishing brilliance punctuated by instances of how-in-the-hell-did-that-happen? Sometimes Johnson's problems are of his own making, and sometimes they're just plain strange. Take, for instance, his tee shot on the second hole of Saturday's third round:

Dustin Johnson just domed a guy https://t.co/CvM8hp4Nxx

— Guy Haberman (@GuyHaberman) June 18, 2016

Yep, that's Johnson clocking a guy in the skull; the ball caromed off the fella's noggin and ended up deep in a concession stand:

"A worker and an official look at Dustin Johnson's ball behind a tub of ice inside a concession stand" pic.twitter.com/8GVyZiXccB

— Luke Kerr-Dineen (@LukeKerrDineen) June 18, 2016

Johnson recovered his ball:

I believe that's mine. (AP)

And, after a bit of relief, found a direct line to the green amid some very brave photographers:

This is either extreme faith or extreme stupidity pic.twitter.com/0Csrk8bhDK

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) June 18, 2016

From there, Johnson chipped to within inches and tapped in for your basic tee-skull-tent-gravel par. Just another day in the life of Dustin Johnson, Major Hunter.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 18, 2016, 10:09 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. -- We're about to see the real Oakmont.

The course we saw for the first two rounds, spread out over two-and-a-half days? That was a facsimile. It was close, but some of the details were lost in transmission.

For the final 36 holes, we'll have an original copy.

As players wrapped up their second rounds on Saturday morning, they weren't breathing a sigh of relief that they had made the cut or were in contention at the U.S. Open. Oh, no. They were looking at their watches, keeping their ears open for the sound of mowers and feeling the drying sun beating down on them.

After 3 inches of rain soaked this historic club on Wednesday, Thursday, including some overnight precipitation, the poor weather has given way to flawless, beautiful sunshine. There's no chance for rain the rest of the way. Temperatures will be in the mid-80s. It's the kind of weather that can dry up a golf course -- at least the parts that aren't muddy -- in a hurry.

On Saturday morning, the greens were rolling here at 14.6 on the Stimpmeter. That's high for a regular PGA Tour stop, which runs in the area of 11-12 on the meter. However, Oakmont members will tell you this course can get a liiiittlle bit faster. That's where the USGA will take the putting surfaces over the final 36 holes, culminating in a difficulty that a lot of the field spoke of on Saturday morning.

Louis Oosthuizen shot 5-under 65 in his Round 2. He knows that score is going to be hard to find the rest of the way.

"The greens are definitely getting faster, and it's firming up," he said. "I think it will be a bit of a different golf course this afternoon and definitely tomorrow."

Then there's 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott. Typically cerebral and not prone to hyperbole, Scott signaled conditions out of a horror film.

"We'll see fast greens this afternoon, but we're going to see some crazy ones tomorrow," said the former world No. 1.

And that's coming from a guy who has seen the green speeds on the Sandbelt courses of his native Australia.

"I'm sure they're going to put it right to the limit tomorrow because they just haven't been probably exactly where they want them. They'll be just a little bit firmer, and then I think they're really cutting them a lot at the moment, and they can go again tomorrow. I think we'll see some crazy stuff tomorrow."

Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk, trailing by three shots heading into the final 36, was more understated about what's coming. As a former champion -- at a very un-U.S. Open-like Olympia Fields in 2003 -- perhaps he has a Boy Scout's preparedness for all things U.S. Open. He knows the USGA is doing this out of necessity.

"The greens are still holding some moisture out there right now," he said. "They're quick, and I expect them to get even quicker as the week goes on. That's the defense right now."

Really, this course needs to go on offense. So far, there have been 33 rounds in the 60s. There were only eight for the entire championship in 2007 on what amounted to the same setup. Those rounds in the 60s aren't going away, and there still could be a few unearthed in the final two rounds. Oakmont has already claimed 89 scalps. But, if the USGA, and the Oakmont members, and these Pittsburgh fans are going to get what they want this weekend, they're going to have to push these players to their breaking point. And the only way they can do that? One putt at a time.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 18, 2016, 7:30 pm

Andrew Landry hits from rough on the sixth hole. (AP)Updated as of 2:15 p.m. ET

OAKMONT, Pa. — Thought Andrew Landry would shrivel up under the U.S. Open pressure and go away, didn't you?

Looked that way for a moment, when the stunning first-round leader went bogey-bogey-double on the front nine of Round 2 Saturday to fall from 4-under to even par. But Landry held tough – real tough. He birdied 13, drained a long birdie putt at 17, then stuck his approach at 18 to three feet for another birdie.

And just like that, the 624th-ranked player in the world worked his way into the final group when Round 3 begins sometime around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Landry (3-under) will be paired with Dustin Johnson (4-under) and Scott Piercy (2-under).

"I feel very comfortable," Landry said after firing a second-round 71. "I feel like this golf course suits me very well. I can just get out there and play my game. I don't have to – I'm not the player that's going to go out and shoot 28 under par. I've never been that guy, so I'm always the guy that's going to kind of just dink it around right there and make pars and throw in a couple birdies."

Top 10:
1. Dustin Johnson -4
2. Andrew Landry -3
T3. Scott Piercy -2
T3. Sergio Garcia -2
T3. Gregory Bourdy -2
T3. Shane Lowry -2
T7. Daniel Summerhays -1
T7. Andy Sullivan -1
T7. Jim Furyk -1
T7. Lee Westwood -1

Who is Gregory Bourdy?

If you're familiar with Gregory Bourdy, then hello Ma and Pa Bourdy. For the uninitiated (ie. most of the rest of us), here's a little bit about the guy who should have been the 36-hole co-leader of the 116th U.S. Open, but after a brutal 18th, will settle for a tie for third:

He's a 34-year-old Frenchman ranked 135th in the world and he once beat Rory McIlroy in a tournament … in 2009.

He's never played in the U.S. Open before, his cumulative score in majors prior to Saturday's 3-under 67 (that should have been a 5-under 65) was plus-72, and he's never finished better than 39th in a major.

And as of the close of Round 2 Saturday, he had 1,880 followers on Twitter.

He's become a solid player on the European Tour, finishing in the top 25 in nine of his last 15 tournaments.

But he caught an unfortunate break on the 18th, when his approach shot rolled off the green and into a divot. He flubbed the ensuing chip and missed a short putt, turning what looked to be a chance at 64 into a 67 after a double bogey.

How are the Big Three looking heading into the final 36 holes?

Only two of three made the cut, and they're both a long way back.

Jason Day (+5) needed a 1-under 69 Saturday morning just to extend his time at Oakmont. (The cut is coming in at 6-over as Round 2 winds down.)

Jordan Spieth had the red-ass going as he made his way around Oakmont in Round 2. He shot 2-over for the round and is 4-over for the tournament.

And Rory McIlroy did what Rory McIlroy has tended to do in majors, muck up his first round (7-over 77), then start to rally. Only the rally sputtered, and then turned into a retreat. He had himself back to 3-over before three-putting from inside five feet on No. 3. Things went the wrong way from there. McIlroy dropped all the way back to 8-over, missing the cut by two.

Why does Jason Day still think he has a shot?

Because many think Oakmont is going to start showing its teeth.

Though there were some scores to be had Saturday morning – Louis Oosthuzen shot 65 and Bourdy had 64 in his sights – the greens are starting to harden up under a relentless sun that's pushing temperatures to the mid 80s. That means the already lightning-quick greens will get even quicker, which is why both Day and Adam Scott are predicting even par could win the tournament.

"We'll see fast greens this afternoon, but we're going to see some crazy ones tomorrow," Adam Scott, at even par, said. "I'm sure they're going to put it right to the limit tomorrow."

"I think, if I can get back to even par, that I may have a good chance at giving myself a shot at winning," Day said.

Who's heading home?

The cut came in at 6-over, sending some big names home. Foremost among them, Phil Mickelson (+7), McIlroy (+8), Justin Rose (+8), Patrick Reed (+8), Ernie Els (+10) and Rickie Folwer (+11).

Author: Jay Hart
Posted: June 18, 2016, 5:11 pm

Look, golf is a tough game. And the U.S. Open is the toughest test of golf in America. So you can forgive Spencer Levin for a Friday afternoon outburst in which he let fly all his demons at once.

Levin was playing the seventh hole of the second round, the second round of 18 holes he'd played on the day, when a shot drifted into a bunker. Levin finally decided that he'd seen enough of this freaking course:

Surely some purists will say that Levin should have kept his composure, should have maintained some measure of grace under pressure, should have preserved the dignity of the game, blah blah blah. Whatever. Oakmont is a brutally hard course, and sometimes the only way to take out your frustration is to bash the earth like you're Thor. Hang in there, Spencer. We've all been there.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 18, 2016, 1:45 am

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The opening round at Oakmont took more than 30 hours, thanks to multiple weather delays and an early closure to Thursday's competition. A marathon Friday kicked off early, and halfway through, we saw the end of the U.S. Open's first round. Here are the high points at the tournament's quarter-pole.

Dustin Johnson doing Dustin Johnson things. If you were laying odds on a player to find the top of the leaderboard at any point during a tournament, you'd bet the house on Johnson, who always seems to come up big ... at least for a time. Last year, he held a share of the lead at Chambers Bay after the first round, and this year, he's just one stroke behind at the same point. Johnson's troubles are in closing out tournaments, as the rest of the universe reminds him every major, but what's indisputable is that he puts himself into position to win. On Friday, he followed his usual routine: bomb the hell out of the ball off the tee, send it screaming into the green on approach, and then futz around a bit with the putter until he jars it. The strategy worked on Friday; Johnson's bogey-free round was the first at Oakmont in the U.S. Open since Loren Roberts in 1994.

Over the last 9 majors contested, DJ is now -39 in rounds 1 and 2 - 14 shots better than any other player in that span.

— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) June 17, 2016

The Big Three are the Big 15 Over Par: The bet of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy vs. The Field drew some takers coming into the week, and why not? Winners of seven majors between them, in late contention or victorious at every single one of the past six, it stood to reason that at least one of them would hammer this course. It could still happen, but it's going to take a herculean effort. McIlroy finished the first round at +7, Day at +6,, and Spieth with the by-comparison decent +2, six strokes off the lead. There's plenty of time, but for now, The Field is a huge favorite.

Andrew Landry's flawless day: Landry set a record for fewest strokes in a single day at any tournament in golf history: one. All right, technically it's not really a record, but Landry had only a lone birdie putt on Friday to finish out a round that saw him at -4 and in sole possession of first place thanks to an Oakmont-record 66. How long will he remain in contention? At least until Saturday, when he's scheduled to start his second round.

Sergio? Sergio! Sergio Garcia has spent so much time atop the Best Never To Win A Major list that he might as well get the damn thing named after him. Conventional wisdom holds that the Open Championship is likely Garcia's best chance to snag that elusive major, but after one round at Oakmont, he finds himself just two strokes off the lead. Playing in Johnson's grouping, Garcia rode in DJ's wake, and now finds himself near the lead of a tournament where he's never placed higher than T3, and where he has only four top-10s in 16 attempts.

The second round began before the first even concluded. Whole lotta golf for some players; 36 holes of major-level competition at Oakmont is as draining as this game gets. Anyone able to reach the weekend within sight of par will consider themselves lucky.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 17, 2016, 6:19 pm

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OAKMONT, Pa. — The best player to have never won a major is in contention to win his first here at the U.S. Open.

I'm not talking about Dustin Johnson. I'm talking about Lee Westwood.

The 43-year-old came back on Friday to an Oakmont that had been drenched on the day prior and overnight by more than an inch and a half of rain, polishing off a 3-under 67 by playing his final four holes of the round in 2-under par.

The Englishman has rejuvenated his career in 2016, starting with a great week in April at the Masters, which ended with his as co-runner-up to eventual winner Danny Willett.

"I sort of picked up where I left off at the Masters and the last three weeks I've played," he said Friday.

It's been a good stretch for Westwood. He finished tied for 10th in nasty conditions at the Irish Open. He was T-15 at the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour's flagship event. Then he was tied for eighth in blustery weather in Sweden at the Nordea Masters.

Notice there wasn't a single start on the PGA Tour in that four-event run.

That's because Westwood has committed himself to playing only on the European Tour in 2016, a decision he made after he got divorced from his wife, Laurae, in 2015. Westwood moved from Florida, his prior U.S. base, to England so that he could be closer to his children, Sam and Poppy, who moved back to Scotland with their mother. Westwood wanted to be near his children.

Not only was the move back home an opportunity to live closer to his children, but it was also a chance to regain his confidence. When he moved to the United States in 2012, he was in the top five in the world. At the end of 2015, he had dropped to 50th.

"I think it’s fair to say that while living in the States my career didn’t move in the direction I wanted it to move, but obviously that’s not the reason why I am doing this," Westwood told the Daily Mail in October 2015. "But it’s nice to be back. There are a few events over here I’ve missed not playing in, and I’ve dropped a lot in the world rankings, so I need to address that."

He has. The runner-up at the Masters went a long way in helping his ranking, which, heading into the U.S. Open, was 30th. That's still a long climb to the top for a man who has spent 22 weeks atop the summit of the Official World Golf Ranking. At 43, that's not likely to happen again, but Westwood has showed he still has the game to win a major.

Westwood enjoyed his best stretch in the majors between the 2009 U.S. Open and the 2010 Open Championship, where he finished tied for third twice in the final two majors of '09 and second in the 2010 Masters and Open Championship. Since then, he's posted eight major top-10 finishes, including the runner-up at Augusta National in April. However, that Masters effort came on the heels of a seven-major stretch in which he broke the top 40 just once.

Lee Westwood isn't Dustin Johnson. He doesn't have the raw power and talent that could back into a major. Unforunately, their short games are similarly bad. But Westwood remains a world-class ballstriker, and that gives him a chance on an Oakmont course that really isn't that long. If he can play classic U.S. Open fairways-and-greens golf, he'll have a good opportunity to win on Sunday or Monday, whenever they finish this thing.

If Westwood were to win his first -- and maybe only -- major at the U.S. Open, it might come as a surprise to some. After all, Westwood has enjoyed his closest major calls at the Masters. But, given all that has happened in his life since moving to the United States and having only won twice in this country, taking the national championship would be a bittersweet capstone on a remarkable career.

"I think I've had my chances at the Open," he said, "but I think, if you did look at my game, I suppose the U.S. Open should suit me more than others."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 17, 2016, 6:08 pm

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OAKMONT, Pa. — The 2016 U.S. Open is a mess, mostly because of stop-and-go rain Thursday that threw the schedule into chaos, but partly because of how the USGA has responded to said chaos.

Consider this: At 7:30 a.m. ET Friday morning, when Round 1 play resumed, tournament leader Andrew Landry lined up a 10-foot putt on his final hole, drained it, then went home for the day.

Two hours later, Phil Mickelson, who didn't play at all on Thursday, teed off to start his U.S. Open. If his round takes about 4½ hours to complete, that puts him in the clubhouse at around 2 p.m., giving him about two hours to regroup before he heads back out to the course for another 18 holes.

So, Phil Mickeslon is going to play 36 holes Friday, while Andrew Landry will hit one putt.

Fan leave the course during the third rain delay on Thursday. (AP)And it's going to be like that for the entire field.

Tee times for the first two rounds are set up in waves – there's a morning wave and an afternoon wave, with waves flip-flopping between Rounds 1 and 2. So if you played in the morning wave on Thursday, you'll play in the afternoon wave on Friday, and vice versa.

This is done in the interest of fairness, even if it doesn't always work out that way.

But when rain blasted Oakmont Country Club on Thursday, that all changed. Only nine players actually completed their rounds before play was halted at 3:51 p.m. Another 78 – or fully half the field – hadn't even started their rounds.

Friday morning began with Thursday's first wave (let's call them Group A) completing their rounds, with the second wave (Group B) beginning sometime after 8 a.m.

Got that?

The USGA has opted to keep the flip-flopped schedule, which originally called for Group A (which includes Landry, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy) to tee off beginning at 7:15 p.m. Friday. That plan has been scrapped. Instead, Group A will tee off Saturday morning, leaving Group B (which includes Mickelson, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson) to play 36 on Friday.

"Thirty-six holes around this place with the heavy grind and stuff, it's going to be quite tiring for the guys, but they're getting a golf course that's very soft," said McIlroy, who was 7-over in his first round and already in danger of missing the cut. "Even though they haven't seen the golf course like this either, they'll get a good feel for it and be able to get back out there straight away again today."

Fairness will kick back in on Saturday, when Group A (at least those who make the cut) will play 36 as Round 3 begins.

The USGA's expectation is the tournament will be back on schedule come Sunday.

 

Author: Jay Hart
Posted: June 17, 2016, 3:16 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. -- This U.S. Open has been thrown into chaos.

After two rain delays on Thursday which were mere pestilences, delaying the action by about an hour each, the expected major thunderstorms rolled through Oakmont late in the afternoon. The players were pulled off the golf course, and the fans were permitted to take their place, walking down and through and around the fairways to find cover and leave the property. Not too long into the third weather delay, Day 1 play was halted.

Mother Nature has changed everything for this 156-player field.

On Friday morning, the 69 unfinished players in the originally intended first-round first wave will come back to finish up their Round 1. As they're wrapping up, the 78 players who were supposed to head out this afternoon will finally hit the course. They'll play their 18-hole rounds -- barring a pop-up storm that's not in the forecast right now for Friday -- and then that group will be sent out immediately afterward to kick off Round 2.

How far we get beyond that is uncertain at this point, subject to when play will be able to resume on Friday, but it's a safe bet that second round will not be completed as scheduled.

That means the second round spills over into Saturday, and that would mean the intended late-early, early-late setup of the first two days has to change.

Players who started their first rounds today will have gone off in the morning wave today, with some playing briefly late in the day on Friday, coming back on Saturday to finish.

The players who didn't see the course today will get to start sometime later in the morning or early afternoon on Friday, playing their 18 holes and getting in as many as possible before kicking off the Saturday action.

However, all of this doesn't mean we're destined for a Monday finish -- at least in regulation.

There's still time to catch up on Saturday, or even Sunday, to get back on schedule. The USGA can choose to have players go off in threesomes, or off Nos. 1 and 10, or both, for the third round. They could employ any or all of those options again, if necessary, for the final round.

No matter how the USGA gets this tournament back on schedule, there's always the possibility of a playoff. It would be an 18-hole playoff that, plausibly, would start the day after the regulation 72-hole portion ends. And, it just so happens, that this venue has a tendency to produce tight finishes. Since Ben Hogan won by six here in 1953, the U.S. Open at Oakmont was decided in a playoff twice (1962, '94) and by one shot three times (1974, '83, 2007).

Regardless of whether we have a tie after four rounds, we're going to be cutting it close for a Sunday finish. How far we might spill farther into next week is anyone's guess.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 16, 2016, 10:13 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. -- It's raining cats and dogs here, not birdies and eagles.

Weather delays, namely severe thunderstorms, have caused play to be stopped twice here at the 2016 U.S. Open. The first delay began at approximately 10:05 a.m. and lasted about 75 minutes. After less than an hour of play, the field was again called off the course for lightning in the area and a pop-up thunderstorm bringing the strongest rain of championship week to Oakmont Country Club.

This is rain that is on top of the 1.1 inches that fell overnight Wednesday.

At this point, only 78 of the 156 players in the field have started their rounds, with 28-year-old Andrew Landry leading the tournament at 5 under par through 13 holes. The University of Arkansas product, who qualified through the 36-hole sectional in Memphis, is playing back-to-front. 

Behind Landry are Bubba Watson, Danny Lee, Lee Westwood and Bryson DeChambeau, all at varying stages of their rounds.

However, it's unlikely many of the players on the course, as well those waiting to tee off in the afternoon wave, will even approach the finish line today. More storms are expected starting around 2 p.m. that should carry through darkness.

It could be a long week.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 16, 2016, 5:15 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. -- The question going into the U.S. Open nine years ago was whether you would take 12-time major winner Tiger Woods or the remaining field of 155 players.

Now, going into this Oakmont Open in 2016, the question is if you would take the Big Three or the 153 leftovers.

So, do you believe Jason Day, defending champion Jordan Spieth or four-time major winner Rory McIlroy will win this U.S. Open?

It's hard to argue with picking Day, who is the total package right now. He's won three times this year, has the largest lead at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking since Tiger Woods and has a great track record in this championship with a pair of second-place finishes. It's not hard to imagine him winning had he not dealt with a severe bout of vertigo last year at Chambers Bay.

Day has the skill set that works for a U.S. Open, and he knows it.

"I think it sets up best for this because I hit it high," Day said of the Open. "Usually, the course is running very firm. Usually the greens are firm and fast. I feel like I hit it high, and I feel like I've got good touch around the greens. I think this one sets up best for me."

He has the power to keep driver in the bag, hitting the 2-iron he blasted 300 yards to win at The Players in May and the 3-wood he can smash 330 yards in firm conditions. He leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting. He can power the ball out of rough. But perhaps most important is his mental edge. He may be a slower-than-average player, but Day is absolutely committed to every shot, something that is a must here at Oakmont. Let your mind wander for a little while and pay the price.

"I'm not saying that all the other players don't want it just as much as me, but all I'm doing right now is focusing on trying to win golf tournaments, and I understand that the only way to do that is get the process right," Day said.

Then there's Jordan Spieth, who swears he's over that Masters meltdown from April. He won at Colonial to earn his first PGA Tour win in the state of Texas, so maybe that's true, but if Spieth opens up a sizable lead any day this week, that memory has to invariably creep in his mind. Even if for an instant, it'll be there.

For the sake of argument, we could disregard the mental scar tissue and say Spieth is in a state of zen. However, his best skill here, putting, is somewhat mitigated by the firmness and speed of these greens. It'll be more difficult for him to make 20-, 25- and 30-foot putts that give him such an edge. That's the bad news. The good news is that Spieth is a strong lag putter, which should prevent him from having as many throat-constricting 6-footers for par and bogey as everyone else. The downside is that Spieth is below the PGA Tour median inside 6 feet.

Spieth said the greens here and at Augusta National are similar. So perhaps he can carry over the confidence he has clearly developed at the Masters -- everywhere except No. 12, at least -- and translate that to here.

"You can't let your mind slip on these greens for one moment, or else you're going to be left with possibly a 10- to 15-footer on the next putt, if not worse," he said Monday. "So really have to be cautious of it."

And what about Rory McIlroy? He won the Irish Open in May to get that ball and chain off his ankle, but he's been shut out in this stretch of majors where Jordan Spieth is a lock for the top five and Jason Day has threatened to win two of the last three. McIlroy found himself in a position to take on Spieth on the weekend at the Masters, only to blow himself out of the tournament when Spieth's uncanny knack to just hang around got in his head.

Oakmont should play to the Ulsterman's strengths, at least in theory. The demands here from tee-to-green are ones McIlroy can answer with the same ease as Day. In fact, McIlroy is a better player off the tee with arguably more effortless power. The four-time major winner can hit moonballs that fly high and land as softly as these firm greens will allow. The problem is McIlroy's putting, which is streaky with an inconsistent stroke. If he gets flummoxed by the speed of putts and the relative difficulty of converting on the strong suit of his game, his ballstriking, McIlroy may play himself into a corner from which he cannot escape.

Then there's the nature of the four majors McIlroy has won. McIlroy was no worse than 13 under par in each of those victories. That will certainly not be the winning score here. It probably won't even be under par.

If nothing else, McIlroy is self-aware. He knows the concept of this Open isn't exactly in his wheelhouse.

"As you said, the majors that I have won have been soft and under par and more suits my style of game," he said Tuesday. "But to be able to win on a course like this with the conditions the way they are, it would probably be my, I don't know, maybe my biggest accomplishment in the game. But definitely would make me feel like a more complete player, I guess."

The players that have won here are complete players. Nicklaus, Hogan, Miller, Nelson. They were studs who were mentally tough and didn't cave to Oakmont's constant pressure. Each of the Big Three deals with that mental stress differently, but they all have the capacity to emerge as champion.

Then again, there are plenty of players who have won here that weren't a finished product when they hoisted the trophy. Jack Nicklaus had to stare down Arnold Palmer in 1962 for his first pro win. Ernie Els won a playoff here in 1994 over Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts, then the best putter alive, to pick up his first win in the U.S. Angel Cabrera stared down Tiger Woods to pick up the first of his two major wins here in 2007.

So, is there a player like that – a yet-unknown multi-time major winner – in this field that we don't know yet?

If history is any indication, there is.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: TaylorMade-adidas CEO David Abeles joins us from Oakmont

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 16, 2016, 3:13 pm

The U.S. Open begins Thursday at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, and, as usual, it's the toughest test of golf on the calendar. Slick greens, treacherous fairways, devious approaches, mentally taxing strategies ... Oakmont has it all. Who will end up the champion on Sunday night? No idea, but here's what you need to know going into the tournament.

Why Oakmont?
The historic club has hosted the U.S. Open nine times now, and it's reputed to be so tough that it's the only course in America that doesn't need to be strengthened to host the Open. For this week, it will play as a par-70, at 7,230 yards, and every single one of those yards will be a test. The rough is grown to more than four inches in spots, deep enough to conceal the ball, the club, and probably several of the shorter golfers in the field. You're in trouble even before you get to the green.

Yeah, about those greens ...
They're slicker than greased ice. Some rain during the week may slow them down to some degree, but players will have to strategize every single hole from the pin backward in order to put themselves in position to approach the green the right way. You run a putt slightly past the flag and it might not stop until Ohio. Certainly, no trees are going to stop anything.

Trees?
The course cut down as many as 15,000 trees over the last few years, bringing it back to the course's original layout. What happened to all those trees? Yahoo Sports' Jay Hart has the story here

So who's our favorite?
Jason Day, the reigning world No. 1, appears set up to take down one of the biggest prizes in golf. He's won "only" one major, last year's PGA Championship, but there's nobody even close to Day's run of late, seven wins in 18 tournaments. He's peaking in his career right now, and he's got the proper mental makeup and physical skill set to stay in competition right through Sunday evening.

Speaking of staying in competition, what about Jordan Spieth?
The last time we saw Spieth in a major, he was staggering off the manicured fairways of Augusta National, having thrown a five-shot lead and a second green jacket into Rae's Creek at the 12th hole. Sure, Spieth has won since then, but the Dean & DeLuca Invitational isn't exactly a major. How will Spieth respond to the pressure of a major Sunday? A major Sunday with a lead? We don't know yet, but we're likely to find out very soon. Expect him to stay close to the top of the leaderboard all weekend long.

The third of the Big Three, Rory McIlroy. What's up with him?
He's not winning at the same clip he was a couple years ago, but he's always a threat to step up and have a big weekend. The problem is that McIlroy has a tendency to put himself deep in holes before making big-time runs. He's a reliable top-25 every major, but if he has struggles early at Oakmont, he might not be able to recover.

Phil Mickelson. Is he gonna get that U.S. Open or what?
Mickelson lacks only the U.S. Open for a career Grand Slam, and he admits that it burns him not to have it. Mickelson is playing under the specter of a recent insider-trading scandal for which he was legally cleared; add that to the pressure of playing in a U.S. Open, at a brutally difficult course, and Phil’s got a long uphill battle ahead.

Hey, speaking of Phil, how about Tiger Wo-
That doesn’t count as a question.

OK, with Woods not a choice, who might be some other players outside the Big Three who could make some noise?
Consider Patrick Reed, who’s posted top-10 finishes in nine of his last 17 finishes. Or Matt Kuchar, who has posted top-6 finishes in his last four tournaments. Or, really, anybody who can putt with the tiniest bit of grace and touch.

What will it take for this to become a legendary Oakmont U.S. Open?
An awful lot. The 1962 U.S. Open ranks among one of the greatest tournaments of all time, Jack Nicklaus winning his first major by defeating Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff. Eleven years later, Johnny Miller set a major record with a 63 at Oakmont. You’ll hear plenty about both of those.

And where might we hear those?
Thursday and Friday will feature the tournament on Fox Sports 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, then on Fox from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.. On Saturday, Fox will air the tournament from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Father’s Day from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The tournament will be streaming on Fox Sports Go all week long.

Podcast: U.S. Open preview: Breaking down the unbreakable Oakmont:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 16, 2016, 12:36 pm

On this week's podcast, TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO David Abeles joins me from 2016 U.S. Open site Oakmont Country Club to talk about the state of his company's business, their potential sale, the work his company is putting into this important week for the sport and his outlook for the game's health in the future.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle Play MusicTuneInPlayerFM or Stitcher


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 15, 2016, 8:14 pm

The U.S. Open is almost here, and the field is making their final preparations at Oakmont Country Club on Wednesday for the most trying test in golf.

There are a lot of names on the tips of tongues of folks on the grounds here, including the defending champion Jordan Spieth, world No. 1 Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, the snakebitten Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and plenty of under-the-radar picks for the "I told you so" set.

But who does the Yahoo Sports golf superteam like? We'll tell you now.

Jay Busbee: I’ll go with Jordan Spieth. He proved with a win at the Colonial that he could shrug off the Augusta National jitters, and now we get to see if that vaunted touch with the putter can match up with what’s looking like a greasy-skillet set of greens.

Jay Hart: SPIETH!!!!! Oakmont is apparently really hard, so you'd think the winner would have to be a known quantity. Not, say, a Webb Simpson or a Lucas Glover or a Steve Jones. The greens are a killer, but you have to get to the greens first, and whoever can do that with the least amount of damage will likely win. Jordan Spieth is the No. 2 player in the world, so he's a known quantity; he can scramble with the best of them (when he needs to) and he's the best putter of the bunch at the top. The 116th U.S. Open will be his redemption song ... probably. Okay, maybe. Okay, maybe probably.

Ryan Ballengee: I know I'm really going out on a limb here with my pick ... the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Jason Day. Day has the complete package for a U.S. Open and the track record, short of a win, to back up the pick. He's long and reasonably accurate off the tee, and he'll rarely need driver on this course, allowing him to get into ideal position off the tee. He's a strong ballstriker with a vastly improved short game. He also leads the tour in strokes gained puttiing. What's not to like?


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 15, 2016, 6:13 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – You've heard of sticker shock. This is scorecard shock.

There's a par 3 here at Oakmont Country Club, site of the U.S. Open, that's 288 yards from the back tee box.

When fans first hear about it, they kind of gasp. A nearly 300-yard par 3?, they ask, like they can't believe what they heard. Invariably, it's followed by some joke along the lines of: I might be able to get there if I hit driver ... twice! Guffaw, guffaw.

But for the field here at this ninth Open at Oakmont, the eighth isn't a joke. It's a behemoth hole – the longest par 3 in U.S. Open history – that they'll have to navigate four times if they want to win the national championship.

Then again, they had to do the same thing in 2007, when this hole played the exact same length. In nine years, the eighth hole has become, at least relatively speaking, easier. Modern golf equipment has pushed the limits of distance even farther, making it easier for the top, long-hitting players to reach this green with an iron in their hand.

"I've hit anything from a 3-wood to a 4-iron," McIlroy said Tuesday. "It was a little soft on last Tuesday after a thunderstorm. So I hit a 3-wood and carried it on to the middle of the green. And then yesterday, it was downwind. I hit a 4-iron to the back sort of portion of the green as well. So it really depends."

The four-time major winner reiterated a point that has been made a lot this week: Oakmont isn't all that long. Yeah, there's a 288-yard par 3 and a nearly 670-yard par 5, but the yardage on the card – a grand total of 7,230 – is deceptive.

"I think one of the things about this golf course is what the yardage says on the tee, it doesn't play anything like that," he said.

Even though players are using less club to get near the green, and that 288 on the scorecard is deceptive, that doesn't mean the hole is all that much easier.

The slightly downhill tee shot plays to a green that slopes from back-to-front and runs left-to-right. If a player wants to reach the green on a rope, they'll have fly their tee shot over a bunker that juts in from the left. Even if they get over that and try to run it on through the neck, their ball will run away from them as it tries to roll uphill on the putting surface. The ball may stop on the green, but it could invite a likely three-putt from the back of the green, depending on the hole location.

The more prudent play is to hit a draw that flies right-to-left, starting at the grandstand to the right of the green. If executed properly, the shot will give a player a decent chance to hit and stay on the putting surface. If they miss, they could land either in the short fairway leading into the green with a reasonable uphill pitch. If they ball goes a little longer, it'll land in one of several bunkers on the right side, ideally one of two in the front that will give a player a good chance to get the ball close for par with their second shot.

It might sound daunting to the average golfer – and that's because it is. However, the best players in the world can see past the yardage and dissect this hole. They know what to do, and what not to do, and, as G.I. Joe taught us, knowing is half the battle.

Rickie Fowler isn't scared of No. 8.

"It's a pretty big green. You've got an area to run up. If you put yourself in the right position on missing the green and not short side yourself, it's very playable," he said.

Fowler is like a lot of players in the field. They can tell you how a hole should be approached in concept. They can speak confidently, at times, downplaying the difficulty. However, Fowler acknowledged that a poorly executed plan on the eighth will, at times, lead to tournament-crushing, demoralizing high scores.

"So unless you short side yourself, it's not that difficult of a hole, but a bad tee shot is going to make it as hard as you want," he said.

That's a pretty big "but."

However, thinking of this hole – or this course – by the par on the card is a mistake. In 2007, the scoring average for the week on this par-70 course was 75.7. For the eighth, the average was 3.45. In other words, a bogey on the eighth might only cost a player about a half-shot on the field. That's not a big penalty.

But that also means that a par gains on the field, and that's precisely why you won't see a lot of players firing pin-seekers this week.

"You won't see many 2s there," Fowler said, "but take 3 and walk away."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 15, 2016, 5:25 pm

The U.S. Open returns to Oakmont this week, bringing the infamous Church Pew bunkers back into the national spotlight. A series of ridges designed to bring you to your knees, the Church Pews rank among golf’s most notable features. In their honor, let’s consider more of the most challenging and distinctive features in golf.

The Church Pews. (Getty)

Church Pews, Oakmont: The 12 mounds that make up the pews lie between the third and fourth fairways, luring wayward drives their way. So difficult and shaped that even a sideways pitch is a challenge, the Pews are enough to make a grown man renounce the game.

Rae's Creek. (AP)

Rae’s Creek, Augusta: The gentle, winding creek that traces the far reaches of Augusta National doesn’t seem like trouble. But the fierce slope of the 12th green and the long carry of the 13th fairway bring the creek into play, and as Jordan Spieth can tell you, a lot of hopes can drown in that little creek.

The Island Green. (Reuters)

Island Green, TPC Sawgrass: Gimmicky? Sure. An unfair test late in the day for a would-be major tournament? Probably. But the Island Green, the focus of a million go-for-it motivational break room posters, remains probably the most recognizable hole in golf.

Hell Bunker. (Getty)

Hell, St. Andrews: The Old Course at St. Andrews has an entire array of bunkers with appropriately ominous names, like The Coffins and the Principal’s Nose, but none is more vicious than Hell, ten feet deep and more than 300 square yards. You end up in Hell, you’re going to pay for your swinging sins.

Devil's [Redacted]. (AP)

Devil’s [Redacted], Pine Valley: The 10th at Pine Valley doesn’t appear too treacherous, a shortish par 3 with only a little bunker guarding the front. But there’s a reason that bunker, six feet deep, is called the Devil’s … well, let’s say “Tailpipe,” since we’re a family website. End up there, and you're looking at an impossible chip up to the green and a face full of sand.

The Basement. (AP)

The Basement, Chambers Bay: Nine feet deep, its slopes so steep that it requires stairs to descend, the Basement on the 18th of Chambers Bay sits in perfect position to destroy rounds, tournaments, hopes, dreams, the will to go on living. Here, for instance, is Tiger Woods descending into The Basement:

Tiger Woods does his best sad Charlie Brown walk (original vine by @jaybusbee) https://t.co/L6rOW78it3

— Will Thompson (@thrillis4) June 19, 2015

 

Cypress Point. (Getty)

The Surf, Cypress Point: The 16th at Cypress Point is another deceptive par 3; once you’ve finished gawking at the beauty of this majesty, all you’ve got to deal with is the rushing of the surf and the treacherous rocks that line the entire hole, with zero room for error. No big deal.

Barry Burn. (Getty)

Barry Burn, Carnoustie: More than a creek, not quite a river, this waterway wends through Carnoustie. On the 18th hole, players must cross it three different times before reaching the green; it’s the site of golf’s most famous collapse—the 1999 meltdown of Jean van de Velde at the Open Championship. And the Barry Burn rolls on, blissfully unconcerned with the carnage in its wake.

The bunker at Whistling Straits. (AP)

The Bunkers, Whistling Straits: The bunkers at Whistling Straits are both more and less than your typical sand bunkers: more because they are everywhere within seemingly a hundred-mile radius of the course, and less because the gallery often walks right through them … as Dustin Johnson, who famously grounded his club in a “bunker” in the 2010 PGA Championship, can attest.

The Blue Monster. (Getty)

The Blue Monster, Doral: The entire course at Trump Doral goes by the “Blue Monster” designation now, but it stems from that vicious 18th hole, an intimidating tee shot with water filling up your view and luring your tee shot wayward into two separate, distinct inlets. Shots at the 18th regularly end up half a stroke more than the par-4; the Blue Monster has no mercy.

Podcast: Previewing the U.S. Open, breaking down the unbreakable Oakmont:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 14, 2016, 8:25 pm

The 116th U.S. Open returns to Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh for a record ninth time, with Jordan Spieth defending the title he won in dramatic fashion a year ago at Chambers Bay. Last year's host and this year's, which is practically synonymous with the national championship, couldn't be more different.

However, a lot of the players that are mentioned as likely contenders to win were on the short list a year ago.

Here are our top five players for the year's second major championship:

1. Jason Day – Best player on the planet right now. Doesn't need driver. Leads in strokes gained putting. Has finished out of the top nine once in the last five years at the U.S. Open.

2. Dustin Johnson – know, Johnson isn't exactly the poster child for closing out tournaments. But he's a top-10 machine, including top-four finishes in the last two Opens.

3. Rory McIlroy – The Irish Open winner enjoyed a back-door top-five at Memorial. His ballstriking is on point, which will be key this week. But can he avoid 3-putts at Oakmont?

4. Jordan Spieth – The defending champion won at Colonial in dramatic fashion, then put up his normal nonchalant Memorial performance. That throws off the scent. He's the best putter on the planet and should shine on these greens.

5. Matt Kuchar – Kuchar is playing weekly top-five golf right now and has a solid history of finishing right around 12th place in the U.S. Open in the last five years. Worth a strong look.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 14, 2016, 6:28 pm

Jason Day's son, Dash, has become a bit of a minor star in the last couple of years.

After all, with how often his dad has been winning big golf tournaments, including last year's PGA Championship, 3-year-old Dash has enjoyed the opportunity to run on the final green to celebrate.

Now, in a new TaylorMade Golf commercial, Dash gets to be the star. In the 30-second spot, Dash is the voiceover, describing the things they do as a family, including playing and practicing golf. The spot then invokes Father's Day and the world No. 1 potentially winning the U.S. Open.

The commercial ends with Dash saying, "I love you, Daddy," and that moment resounded with Jason when he first saw the finished product.

"When I first saw the commercial, especially at the end when he says, 'I love you, daddy,' I just started crying," Day said Tuesday at the U.S. Open. 

Day explained how his wife, Ellie, helped Dash learn his lines and get them on track at a studio near their Columbus, Ohio, home, saying that he has loosened up with opportunities like this in the last year because he's in a unique position at the top of the game.

"What better opportunity than now do I have to get to do this stuff and really look back on it and say I did some pretty cool stuff when I was playing golf," he said, "and Dash can have that exact same thought when he's growing up, saying that he did some pretty cool stuff. He got to travel the world. He got to be on TV and do some pretty fun things."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 14, 2016, 6:19 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. —In SAT terms, the Masters is to the U.S. Open what a night at the symphony is to Coachella. 

How exactly? Let's go to the photos:

CELL PHONES

The Masters: Cell phones aren't allowed inside the grounds of Augusta National. Like not even if turned off and stuffed in your pocket.

U.S. Open: Bring 'em on in and use 'em if you'd like.

 

In fact, while you're here, might as well use ... the complimentary Wi-Fi!

 

TENTS

The Masters: There might be a corporate tent somewhere, but they're nowhere to be seen by the general public.

U.S. Open: Well, in this photo there are at least 26. And that's just one view. 

CONCESSION PRICES

The Masters: Beer (domestic or imported) is $5; pimento cheese sandwiches are $1.50.

 U.S. Open: Domestic beer is $6.50; PB&Js are $3.

 SEATING

The Masters: Bring your little green folding chair.

(AP)

U.S. Open: Pick a grandstand.

OUTHOUSES

The Masters: As if ...

The U.S. Open: Just in front of the 17th tee.

Podcast: Previewing the U.S. Open, breaking down the unbreakable Oakmont:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Author: Jay Hart
Posted: June 14, 2016, 5:53 pm

Daniel Berger picked up his first PGA Tour win on Sunday, taking the FedEx St. Jude Classic by three shots over a trio of higher-profile challengers.

At 13-under 267, Berger beat out nearly 46-year-old Phil Mickelson, 49-year-old Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka, who last month lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff for the Byron Nelson in Texas.

Final-round play was suspended mid-afternoon on Sunday, with weather rolling through TPC Southwind. In that delay, Mickelson may have given Berger the motivation to finish off his first win.

"It was just funny because we were sitting in the lunch room today during the rain delay, and Phil was giving me crap," Berger said. "He was wondering if in the history of the Rookie Of The Year had any [player won it, like Berger did last year] without winning a tournament. He said that, and it kind of pissed me off a little bit. But to kind of get it done today just means a lot."

After the delay, Berger played the final 12 holes in 3 under par, making three birdies from Nos. 12-15. 

"To do that with so many great players, Hall of Famers behind me, it's something that I'll never forget and I just love the way I hung in there and was able to get it done," he said.

On the back of an eye-popping, 7-under 63 on Sunday, Dustin Johnson finished alone in fifth at 9-under total. Former Memphis winner Brian Gay was sixth, another shot back.

Now Berger turns his eyes to Oakmont Country Club, site of the U.S. Open. It would be hard to fathom making his first two PGA Tour wins in such a fashion, but Berger's back-nine poise on Sunday would come in handy a week from now.

"I got to do what I did this week," he said, "and if I can do that, then I'll be just fine next week."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 13, 2016, 2:31 am

It seems fitting that the person to deny Lydia Ko a third consecutive LPGA major would be a player who is somehow younger than she is.

And that's exactly what 18-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson did on Sunday to win her first major title at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Henderson first earned her way into a playoff with Ko, the 54-hole leader, by shooting 6-under 65 at Sahalee Country Club in Washington. Then, on the first playoff hole, Henderson blasted a drive up the left side of the tight -- they're all tight, really, at Sahalee -- 18th. After Ko hit an impressive shot from 175 yards to about 20 feet for birdie, Henderson smoked a mid-iron that landed short of the hole location and rolled up to about 2-and-a-half feet. 

Ko couldn't make the right-to-left swinger for birdie, missing on the low side. The Kiwi tapped in for par, well aware her fate had been sealed. Henderson made her birdie putt to lock up the title and become the youngest winner in this championship's storied history -- first as the LPGA Championship, now as the Women's PGA Championship -- and the second-youngest woman in history to win a major, only behind Ko, who accomplished the feat last year.

Now Ko, who has a lock over the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, will be trailed by Henderson. And, by the way, 20-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, who had won her last three starts, finished in third place this week.

"I think it's great," Ko said. "I think it's great for the Tour. And it's good for the women's game."

That's a remarkable view considering Ko was vying to become the fifth player in LPGA history to win three consecutive majors -- and by far the youngest. Instead, Sunday was the coronation of Canada's second women's major champion, behind Sandra Post, who won this title in 1968 at 20 years of age. 

Ko and Thompson at 1-2 in the rankings lead the LPGA's youth movement. Then there's 20-year-old Lexi Thompson not far behind at No. 4, followed by 23-year-old Sei Young Kim, 21-year-old defending U.S. Women's Open champion Ingee Chun and Jutanugarn. 

In a year when 29-year-old Anna Nordqvist is by far the tour's oldest winner, the LPGA is quickly racing into a new, exciting era that this group may lead for a decade or longer. 


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 13, 2016, 2:16 am

Lydia Ko has a chance to do something on Sunday that's never been done in LPGA history.

The 19-year-old Kiwi carries a one-shot lead into the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Washington. She's at 2-under 211, ahead of Gerina Piller and two-time major winner Brittany Lincicome. And if Ko can hold on to or expand that edge by the end of play on Sunday, she'll become the youngest player in LPGA history to win three consecutive major championships.

That's a big deal, but Ko didn't build it up that way on Saturday.

“I don't really think about it when I'm out there playing,” Ko said. “I'm just trying to play my best and trying to hit that shot in front of me. I only know about these records after you guys tell me.”

It's that kind of laid-back, one-at-a-time perspective, perhaps, that has gotten Ko this far, this fast. Ko already has 11 LPGA wins, including the last two majors -- becoming the youngest female major winner last September in France at The Evian Championship, then hitting a clutch wedge shot into the 72nd hole of the ANA Inspiration in April to make it two in a row.

She's the clear No. 1 player in the world, and it seems all too evident of late in the most pressure-packed spots. While other players are battling nerves, self-doubt and thinking ahead, Ko is keeping it breezy and making it look easy. 

Ko even let Lincicome, who she played with in the third round, eat some of the snacks she brought in her bag during Saturday's five-and-a-half-hour round. Perhaps Ko just isn't aware these are the nice-person things usually reserved for folks who don't usually win.

Ko isn't intimidating in the traditional sense. She doesn't elicit fear in her peers or make them quiver with worry. Ko is personable and well-liked. However, she is intimidating in that she's a great closer that finishes you off with a smile and a shrug. She's a shooting star -- intending to retire by the time she's 30 -- taking full advantage of her self-imposed window.

Maybe it's because she doesn't see her career, however long it lasts, as a window that will eventually close. Rather, she sees it as a daily reminder to enjoy focusing on the minutiae of greatness.

“It's really cool to obviously have my name in those records amongst those amazing players,” Ko said. “That's the really cool thing about it, but when I'm out there I'm not thinking so much about records and what could happen."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 12, 2016, 2:55 am

Daniel Berger is in good position to pick up his first PGA Tour win on Sunday, carrying a three-stroke lead into the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Berger is at 10-under 200, three clear of veterans Phil Mickelson (nearly 46), Steve Stricker (49) and D.A. Points (39).

Seung-yul Noh, Colt Knost and Brooks Koepka are tied for sixth at 6 under par.

Berger isn't in a completely foreign position. The Florida State product had a chance to win in his rookie season last year, ultimately losing to Padraig Harrington in a sudden-death playoff at The Honda Classic. He knows he needs to keep things as close to normal as possible on Sunday.

"I just have to be myself," he said. "I feel like when you're kind of in this position you can kind of try to do things that normally you wouldn't do and just got to have fun out there and be myself and see what happens."

Stricker is a 12-time PGA Tour winner, and he knows he'll fight a similar battle.

"I'll be nervous. It's been awhile since I've been up there and have an opportunity to win," Stricker said Saturday after shooting 4-under 66. "I'm excited for the challenge. That's what we want to be out here for is to get into that position."

The Wisconsin native hasn't won since the 2012 Tournament of Champions. In the last couple of seasons, Stricker has waded his toes in semi-retirement, but he's played more often this year in hopes of preventing ring rust.

As for Mickelson, he's been in the thick of it several times this year, including twice on the West Coast Swing. On one hand, Mickelson may be best-equipped to win because he's thinking toward next week's U.S. Open and a chance to complete the career Grand Slam. However, he could also play distracted golf and lose an opportunity to win for the first time since the 2013 British Open.

"I feel like last week [at the Memorial Tournament], I found the ball-striking the way I wanted it," he said. "Hopefully I'll find it for tomorrow's round because it's only going to take a few more fairways hit and a few more birdie opportunities the way I'm putting to try to get this done."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Changing venues, sponsors signal changes to the business of golf

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 12, 2016, 2:15 am

Dustin Johnson let a good round get away on Friday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. 

Through 16 holes, Johnson was 4 under on the round and alone in second place behind 36-hole leader Daniel Berger. Then Johnson found the greenside bunker with his approach into No. 17, leading to a bogey. On the finishing hole at TPC Southwind, Johnson again couldn't find the green with his approach, this time three-putting from 7 feet to end with a crushing double-bogey 6.

What could have been a 66 that meant a date in the final pairing turned into a 1-under 69 that has Johnson tied for third at 5-under 135 with Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.

"It's kind of like yesterday, just I played a lot better than my score," Johnson said. "I was playing pretty well. I mean making bogey and double on last two holes from the middle of the fairway is not a very good finish. Just bad swings."

And that's all it really comes down to this weekend. Johnson has to minimize mistakes, either tactical or technical. 

Another good example? Johnson made bogey on the par-4 10th when he pumped his drive too far down the hole, finding a fairway-adjacent water hazard in trying to cut off too much of the dogleg. An iron would have been a fine play, but Johnson hit the fairway wood longer than he expected. Some more sound counsel from his brother-slash-caddie, Austin, can fix that. But brother can't stop him from making bad scores from benign situations.

"I mean you're going to make some bogeys out here," he said. "But from the fairway you shouldn't be making bogeys."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 11, 2016, 2:48 am

Phil Mickelson hasn't won on the PGA Tour since capturing his fifth major at the 2013 British Open. Almost three years later, on the eve of the U.S. Open, the only major he hasn't won, Mickelson is in position to end that skid.

Mickelson trails Daniel Berger by four shots heading into the weekend at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. However, that's good enough to be tied for third place at 5-under 135.

The difference for Mickelson so far this week has been his putting. 

“I've been striking the ball very well coming into this week even though the first two days weren't my best,” said Mickelson, who shot 5-under 65 on Friday to jump into contention after a mediocre first-round 70.

“To have the putter back and to be putting the way I am, if I can hit it the way I've been hitting it all year I should have a very good opportunity this weekend.”

Of course, the timing is good, too. Mickelson likes to play the week before a major to get the competitive juices flowing. Getting in contention will do just that. A win, one that would end a long skid, would be a bonus.

"I'm very excited that I'm in contention, that I have a good opportunity heading into the weekend. I get to feel the pressure and excitement of having a chance to win, especially a week before the U.S. Open," Mickelson said.

However, Mickelson knows that if he'll overcome the top-heavy leaderboard, with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Berger, he's going to have to play better from tee-to-green.

"I do have some work the to do. I hit a lot of good shots but I hit a lot of bad shots and I've got my [teacher] here, Andrew Getson," Mickelson said. "We had a little work this morning and get at it this afternoon and hopefully for the weekend I'll get it dialed in."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 11, 2016, 2:35 am

With news that the PGA Tour moved a World Golf Championships event from Trump Doral to Mexico City, as well that Shell Oil is ending a 26-year title sponsorship in Houston, we talk about the realities of the sports bubble and the impact on the PGA Tour.

The Tour is going to be just fine because it is smartly positioning itself to get the last of the cable TV money out there and seguing into the future of live sports consumption.

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle Play MusicTuneInPlayerFM or Stitcher.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 10, 2016, 10:10 pm

With the U.S. Open starting next Thursday at Oakmont Country Club, the USGA has announced the groupings and pairings for the first two rounds.

The USGA has a knack for creating some fascinating groups for the opening 36 holes, bringing together top players in high-profile threesomes or sometimes using subtle (or overt) themes to group players.

We look at the five most interesting groupings for the first two days:

1. Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau 

Thursday, 8:35 a.m., No. 10

Friday, 2:20 p.m., No. 1

This is the traditional U.S. Open grouping, with the defending champion, U.S. Amateur winner and British Open champion together. Obviously, the big draw is Spieth, who won at Colonial and will have all eyes on him to see how he rebounds on the major stage from his Masters collapse. Johnson has played somewhat inconsistently since his win at St. Andrews last year, but he's rounded into form. DeChambeau is still feeling his way out as a pro, but he deserves credit for forfeiting his exemption as U.S. Am champion only to earn it back in sectional qualifying.

2. Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson

Thursday, 2:09 p.m., No. 10

Friday, 8:24 a.m., No. 1

Phil Mickelson is a six-time runner-up in this championship. Until he stops playing it, he'll be a draw. If he could win a U.S. Open, he'd complete the career Grand Slam in the most spectacular way, ending a long, tortured story with the national championship. Justin Rose is suffering from a bad back, making the 2013 Open winner a question mark. Stenson has the length to win this championship and fits the profile of past winners at Oakmont, but the clock is ticking on his chances to win majors.

3. Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Danny Willett

Thursday, 8:24 a.m., No. 1

Friday, 2:09 p.m., No. 10

This is a really interesting group, even if there isn't a clear theme to it. McIlroy won the Irish Open and is clearly inspired to play better golf after Jason Day took the buzzsaw to the PGA Tour so far this season. Fowler has struggled of late, and he has a lot of people wondering if his 2014 top-five tour through the majors was an aberration, not the norm. Masters champion Danny Willett gets to flex his muscle on the major stage as a major winner for the first time.

4. Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott

Thursday, 2:20 p.m., No. 1

Friday, 8:35 a.m., No. 10

If there were a theme for this group, it might well be the "Zika is scary" group. Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, and Scott, who won the 2013 Masters, have opted out of the Olympic golf tournament over fears of the spread of Zika in Brazil. Day is now on the fence about possible participating. However, all three players were a big factor in last year's Open at Chambers Bay, and that's why they're actually together.

5. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera

Thursday, 1:58 p.m., No. 11

Friday, 8:13 a.m., No. 10

This group has the last two players to win the Open at Oakmont (Els in a three-man playoff in 1994 and Cabrera by a stroke over Tiger Woods in 2007), as well Jim Furyk, who is a Pennsylvania native and a hometown hero this coming week. None of them is doing much this year, but we could be in store for a surprise.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 10, 2016, 10:09 pm

The PGA Tour is in Memphis, Tenn., this week for the final event before the U.S. Open. 

The FedEx St. Jude Classic welcomes the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and defending champion Fabian Gomez to take on TPC Southwind.

Yahoo Sports will stream PGA Tour Live's featured holes coverage from TPC Southwind on our Golf page from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday and Friday.

Here are some of the featured groupings that will come through the 14th and 16th holes in that coverage window on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, First Round

All times Eastern

Off No. 1

1:50 p.m. -- Fabian Gomez, Brooks Koepka, Steve Stricker
2 p.m. -- Colt Knost, Shawn Stefani, D.H. Lee
2:10 p.m. -- Derek Ernst, D.A. Points, Scott Brown

Off No. 10

1:20 p.m. -- Jason Gore, Frank Lickliter II, Cameron Tringale
1:30 p.m. -- Vaughn Taylor, Jason Bohn, Ryan Palmer
1:40 p.m. -- Camilo Villegas, Matt Jones, Scott Stallings

Friday, Second Round

Off No. 1

1:30 p.m. -- Brian Stuard, Steven Bowditch, Padraig Harrington
1:40 p.m. -- Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson, Retief Goosen
1:50 p.m. -- Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Justin Leonard

Off No. 10

2 p.m. -- Will MacKenzie, Richard H. Lee, Scott Pinckney
2:10 p.m. -- Mark Wilson, Freddie Jacobson, Arjun Atwal
2:20 p.m. -- Shaun Micheel, Steve Wheatcroft, Bronson Burgoon


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:59 pm

Jordan Spieth won two majors, three more times on the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup in 2015. Not only did he make bank last year from his performance inside the ropes, but his transformation into the face of the next generation of American golf scored him even more off the course.

According to a Forbes estimate, Spieth made $52.8 million in 2015, jumping from 85th to ninth place on the publication's list of highest-paid athletes.

Spieth enjoys deals with Under Armour, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Titleist, Rolex, SuperStroke grips and NetJets.

The 22-year-old is the youngest athlete on the list. However, he's not the highest-ranked golfer. Phil Mickelson nicked Spieth by an estimated $100,000. Tiger Woods fell out of the top 10 for the first time, into 12th place, still earning $45.3 million last year.

Spieth is significantly ahead of his younger peers. Rory McIlroy checked in at No. 17 on the list with $42.6 million in earnings, while Jason Day is tied for 69th along with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry at $23.6 million.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:42 pm

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Oakmont Country Club is hard. It's really hard. It's one of the hardest -- if not the hardest -- courses in America. It is one of less than a handful that could host a U.S. Open on a moment's notice.

However, it seems that the Pittsburgh-area club, which will host the national championship next week for the ninth time, will be extra feisty this time.

“I really think it is the hardest golf course we’ve ever played,” Mickelson said Wednesday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

The six-time U.S. Open runner-up spent the last two days at Oakmont, prepping for a bid to complete the career Grand Slam. However, Mickelson doesn't characterize the course as unfair, saying that it's not so long that he'll have to lean on driver a lot.

“The reason why I’m optimistic about Oakmont is that it doesn’t require me to hit a lot of drivers. It requires me to get the ball in play off the tee, but when I’m not hitting drivers, if I’m hitting 3-woods, hybrids, I feel confident I’m able to do that a fairly high percentage of the time,” he said.

The last two Open winners at Oakmont found a way to hit the fairway and putt just well enough to win. Ernie Els, who won a three-man, 18-hole playoff in 1994, and Angel Cabrera in 2007 were long hitters who managed to keep the ball in play. Longer hitters will have an edge, needing less than driver to position the ball off the tee.

The rough at Oakmont will be a challenge no matter the weather. However, if the forecast calls for drying out the course, Mickelson suspects the USGA will choose to cut down rough described by others on site as at least 6 inches deep.

“They let the rough grow long," Mickelson said, "and if it is wet they’ll leave it like that, and if it’s dry they’ll thin it out."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:19 pm

World No. 1 Lydia Ko isn't worried about Zika virus. Then again, at 19 years old and looking this week for a third consecutive major at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, she has plenty to occupy her mind.

After all, it's not like the Kiwi teen is planning on starting a family anytime soon.

“I'm more excited about the Olympics, about the ceremony, about just being in that Olympic vibe than worrying about the Zika virus,” Ko said Wednesday at Sahalee Country Club in Washington. “There are so many experts that are taking care of all that. We've got a great team of people that are doing that."

Several top-ranked male players, including major champions like Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Ooshuizen, have withdrawn their names from consideration. They've cited concerns about scheduling, but the primary fear is transmitting Zika virus, which is spread primarily through mosquito bite. Zika can cause birth defects. World No. 1 Jason Day has said he is concerned about possible infection. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy said it concerned him as well, but came around to saying last week in Ohio that he would participate in the 60-player men's tournament in Rio.

So far, no major female player has withdrawn their name from consideration. In fact, the Olympic excitement from top female golfers has been largely palpable -- a characterization that can't be made about a lot of male players.

“So for us, it's more important that we enjoy it and we're excited about it. And to all the girls that I've talked to, that's kind of the response," Ko said. "We're all excited to go to Brazil and represent our countries and be there amongst the other Olympians. It's unfortunate with what's happening with the Zika, but we all trust the people that are taking care of it. We've just got to trust them and it's in their hands now.”


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:00 pm

The PGA Tour rolls into Memphis, Tenn., this week for the final Tour stop before the U.S. Open.

The FedEx St. Jude Classic features a top-heavy field at TPC Southwind, a course with some of the smaller putting surfaces on Tour. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka headline a field with a few hopefuls looking to sneak in the Official World Golf Ranking top 60 after this week, earning one of the final spots on offer into next week's field at Oakmont Country Club.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Dustin Johnson -- Johnson is a former winner here back in 2012 and was in third place last week at Memorial. He's done pretty much nothing but finish highly this year.

2. Brooks Koepka -- Koepka has top-20 finishes in his only two Memphis appearances, so that's good enough for a high ranking. A playoff loss at the Nelson is encouraging, too.

3. Ryan Palmer -- Palmer was T-3 on his home track at Colonial, which also has small greens. He sees them well. He had back-to-back top-four finishes here in 2012 and '13.

4. Phil Mickelson -- Mickelson is a little two-faced right now, and it's unclear which Lefty will show up from week to week. But he has two medal-stand finishes in his last three Memphis starts, so we're good with him this week.

5. Kyle Reifers -- Reifers will be overvalued in daily fantasy games. However, he's figured something out of late, with top-20s in his last three starts and making his last five cuts.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 8, 2016, 10:51 pm

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Tiger Woods is officially running out of tournaments to play in this season.

Woods, who hasn't played a competitive round since last August, announced Tuesday that he will not compete in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club next week or in his Quicken Loans National the following week at Congressional Country Club in Maryland.

"While I continue to work hard on getting healthy, I am not physically ready to play in this year's U.S. Open and the Quicken Loans National," Woods wrote on his website. "I am making progress, but I'm not yet ready for tournament competition."

Tiger Woods (AFP)

The 14-time major winner will be in Bethesda, Md., to host the 10th edition of the Quicken Loans National, which benefits his foundation.

Woods last made a public appearance at the Quicken Loans National media day on May 16, saying there still was not a timetable for his return to competitive golf from a pair of fall 2015 back surgeries, including a second microdiscectomy in 20 months. As part of a charitable promotion sponsored by Quicken Loans, Woods attempted to hit a shot on the green of Congressional's par-3 10th from 103 yards. He put three consecutive balls in the water.

This will mark the third time in six years that Woods has missed the U.S. Open. He didn't compete in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional with a left leg injury, and he also missed the '14 Open at Pinehurst No. 2, as he recovered from his first microdiscectomy procedure in March 2014.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 7, 2016, 9:28 pm

Donald Trump with a group of golfers, including Natalie Gulbis (white shirt, white hat). (Getty Images)Natalie Gulbis, an LPGA Tour veteran, wants you to know something about Donald Trump: she likes him.

"I realize he has made his share of controversial remarks," she writes in a Golf.com essay, "but in my experience, I have found him to be gracious, generous and inspiring."

Only in this election is this newsworthy and only because of Trump are you reading this far. But that's where we are, so let's dig in.

"The commentary that follows is not about policy or who I think you should vote for in November. Instead, it's one woman's story about Donald Trump written in hopes that you might get to know him a little better through my experiences," Gulbis writes.

The thousand-word essay steers wholly clear of politics, save for one quip:

"He encouraged me to look at myself as a brand and as a professional golfer with a huge platform to grow the game of golf, regardless of my gender," she writes. "Because of that, I have always found political rhetoric about Trump's misogynistic 'war on women' to be inconsistent with the Trump I know."

Gulbis, whose lone LPGA Tour win came in 2007, details several encounters she's had with the presidential candidate. The two have played golf on numerous occasions – he's a "sneaky-good putter" – and Trump, she says, has been a wealth of knowledge when it comes to her business of being a professional golfer. It was Trump, she says, who encouraged her to demand equal compensation as men in all her endorsement deals.

"He believed any notion that I should accept less money than a PGA Tour player for appearances or endorsement contracts was just plain wrong," she writes.

Read the entire essay here.

 

Author: Jay Hart
Posted: June 7, 2016, 8:56 pm

Arnold Palmer has lived an incredible life, and the King now wants to share some of what's he experienced.

Palmer will release a memoir, set to be released October 25, entitled "A Life Well Played: My Stories." It's a follow-on to his 1999 autobiography, "A Golfer's Life," which he wrote with James Dodson.

"Though I have written a number of books in the past, this one was particularly important to me, because, as I delved into the process, I realized just how much I still wanted to say to my friends in golf and to fans of the game in general," Palmer said in a statement announcing the book.

"Going through the exercise of getting it all down has been personally satisfying, but I couldn’t have done it without a dedicated group of individuals who truly believed in this project."

The book is billed in a press release to offer "advice and guidance, sharing stories of his career on the course, success in business and the great relationships that give meaning to his life."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 7, 2016, 1:14 am

Tiger Woods will commemorate the 20th anniversary of his first major championship win with a book sharing his perspective on the 1997 Masters.

Woods announced the book deal on Monday, saying the untitled memoir will come out in March 2017 and be co-authored with Canadian writer Lorne Rubenstein. Rubenstein scored a wide-ranging and telling interview with Woods, published by Time Magazine in December 2015.

"The 1997 Masters was one of the most important tournaments in my life for many reasons," Woods said on his website. "I think about the hug with my dad and all the events that went on that week. A lot of people know generally about that tournament, but this gives me a chance to tell in detail what happened on and off the course."

As you might recall, Woods won his first major championship by a record 12 shots, posting an 18-under 270 total that remains (tied with Jordan Spieth's 2015 tally) the 72-hole scoring record for the Masters. At 21 years old, Woods became the youngest Masters winner.

This will be Woods' second book and his first since the 2001 instructional book "How I Play Golf."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 7, 2016, 12:38 am

Ian Poulter won't be able to compete as a player in the 2016 Ryder Cup, as he's sidelined for the next 4 months with a foot injury. However, that won't keep the Englishman from having an influence on the matches this September in Minnesota.

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke announced Monday that he had appointed Poulter as his fourth of five allotted vice-captains for the biennial contest held at Hazeltine National.

Poulter has played on the 12-person European side five different times, including 2004 and from 2008-14. In that stretch, he has gone an intimidating 12-4-2. His Saturday fourball rally is credited with spurring the European side to its 2012 final day rally, known as the Miracle at Medinah, when the visiting team came back from a four-point deficit to tie the biggest comeback in Cup history.

After the 40-year-old announced last week he would face extended time on the sidelines, it became clear Poulter couldn't make the team on points and would need Clarke to use one of his three captain's picks on the Englishman. 

"When it became clear, given my current foot condition, that I would not be in a position to try and qualify for the team for a sixth time this year or indeed be able to justify a wild card pick, I was truly honored and delighted to be asked by Darren to be a vice-captain," Poulter said Monday.

“The best moments of my career have come when I have been wearing the blue and gold crest of Europe on my chest, knowing at the same time that the contest means so much to every European player and to every European fan, either in the crowd or watching back home on television."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 6, 2016, 11:32 pm

Rory McIlroy was just going through a phase, and now it's over. 

The world No. 3 had been putting with a left-hand-low stroke, dating back to the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in March. He broke through for his first win of 2016 with the stroke at the Irish Open in his last start. And he's had his fill. 

“I had 127 putts the week that I won the Irish Open,” McIlroy said Thursday. “So it's not as if I putted particularly well that week. I won that golf tournament with my ball striking alone."

He's gone back to the traditional putting grip, and he's doing well with it so far at the Memorial Tournament. Five strokes of the lead heading into the weekend, McIlroy is at 7-under 137.

"I just felt like it was time to – you know, I thought about it for a while, and I was messing around on the putting green over the weekend," he said. "Just went back to the grip and really trying to focus on the basics like setup and eye position and ball position and stuff like that, alignment.”

Like a lot of golfers who try to switch to the cross-handed grip, McIlroy had trouble keeping a consistent pace to his putts. Pace problems wouldn't play well at Muirfield Village, and they certainly wouldn't go well on the lightning-fast greens in two weeks at the U.S. Open at Oakmont, outside of Pittsburgh.

“I feel like my pace was a little off left-hand low," he said, "and I feel like coming into golf courses like here where the greens are really quick, and obviously Oakmont, where the greens were ridiculously fast, I felt like to give myself the best chance of having a little bit more feel and a little bit more visualization and stuff, I just needed go back to what I've done for most of my career.”


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 4, 2016, 3:55 pm

Jason Day isn't sure now if he's going to represent Australia in the Olympic golf tournament in August. He's concerned about the spread of Zika virus, and that may cause him to back out of the event.

“It’s difficult to say right now,” Day said at the Memorial Tournament. “We’re just really trying to monitor what’s going on and make an educated decision because obviously we’re not done having kids.”

Day and his wife, Ellie, have two children: Dash, aged 3, and Lucy, just 7 months old. They're concerned about the potential spread of Zika through mosquitoes in Brazil. 

“Obviously it could happen here in the States, but I think if you are putting yourself down there there is a chance of you getting it,” Day said. “We are going to explore every avenue to make sure we make an educated decision before we go down there."

Day said he is seeking counsel from his own doctor, not going alone on what the PGA Tour's medical staff has been saying.

“I think there’s a lot of guys who are on the fence about it because they don’t want to put themselves in harms way of it," he said.

Were Day to decide to pull out, the 60-player men's tournament would be without the top-ranked player while the sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time in 112 years. He would join the likes of Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Vijay Singh, who have all withdrawn their names from consideration. 

Rory McIlroy was on the fence about competing, concerned about the growing chorus from the medical community about the potential danger of Zika and spreading it through the world. However, McIlroy announced at Muirfield Village this week that, based on his research, he's comfortable taking the trip to Rio.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 4, 2016, 3:48 pm

Ian Poulter will miss the next four months with a foot injury, endangering his chances of playing for Europe on this fall's Ryder Cup team.

The Englishman has been dealing with an arthritic joint in his right foot for months. The condition has devolved to the point that that it's difficult to walk and practice.

The 40-year-old has been unable to produce results on the PGA Tour this season. Poulter has made nine of 13 cuts on the PGA Tour, with his only top-10 finish coming as a tie for third in the Puerto Rico Open, played opposite the WGC-Dell Match Play. Starting the year at No. 56 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Poulter has fallen to 85th. Poulter hasn't won anywhere in the world since 2012.

Even before deciding to take time off for the injury, Poulter was in danger of not making Darren Clarke's team on points. He's 42nd on the European points list and 38th on the World Points list.

Poulter has made five Ryder Cup appearances, going a remarkable 12-4-2.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 3, 2016, 1:01 pm

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Rory McIlroy has done his homework, and now he's ready to give his answer: The world No. 3 will play in the Olympic golf tournament.

After McIlroy won the Irish Open two weeks ago, McIlroy said he was concerned about the spread of Zika virus and was considering skipping the sport's return to the Olympic program after a 112-year absence. McIlroy cited a desire to start a family with fiancee Erica Stoll in the coming years and a lack of certainty about how long Zika can remain in someone's system.

Following consultation with medical experts, McIlroy's concerns have been assuaged.

"I'm ready to play," McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of this week's Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

"I feel like the advice I've sought out over the past 10 days has put my mind at ease and makes me more comfortable going down there knowing that, even if I do contract Zika, it's not the end of the world. It takes six months to pass through your system, and you're fine."

Particularly helpful was knowing that there is testing to indicate if someone has contracted Zika, which is spread largely by mosquitoes and can cause birth defects.

"You can get tested for it, and it's either a yes or a no you've had it," he said. "It's a virus. It works its way out of your system, and you become immune to it."

McIlroy is a lock to make the 60-player men's tournament. Despite his native Northern Ireland's affiliation with Great Britain, McIlroy has chosen to represent the Republic of Ireland in Brazil.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 2, 2016, 2:14 am

Jordan Spieth had a surprise in store for one of the nation's two sharpest spellers.

During last week's Scripp's National Spelling Bee, it came out that co-champion Jairam Hathwar considers the two-time major winner as one of his heroes. On a visit to "Live With Kelly" on Tuesday, he reiterated the same sentiment.

"He's only (22) years old and he's taking on these veterans and showing that it doesn't matter how old you are, you can still win … put in the effort and do well," Hathwar said to host Kelly Ripa.

Little did Hathwar know that Spieth had heard he was the master speller's idol and that Spieth had a surprise for the young man -- namely, an invitation for the New York native to be his guest at Bethpage Black for The Barclays. 

"If you can putt as well as you can spell, I'm sure we'll see you out on tour here pretty soon," Spieth said.

The Barclays, the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events on the PGA Tour, will be played Aug. 25-28.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 2, 2016, 2:03 am

The PGA Tour honors Jack Nicklaus this week with the annual Memorial Tournament at Nicklaus' Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Sporting a dramatically increased purse, the tournament has the top three players in the world in the field, as well a list of other world-class players vying for one of the most prestigious non-major championships on the schedule.

David Lingmerth is defending champion this week after defeating Justin Rose, who withdrew this week with a back injury, in a playoff.

Here are our top five players for this week:

1. Jason Day -- I know, I know. Jason Day doesn't have the best results here. However, he's got playing privileges at Muirfield Village and won in his last start. He's a different golfer than a year ago.

2. Jordan Spieth -- Spieth had a very Craig Perks finish to win at Colonial, and it shows what Spieth can do with his short game magic. Not that he left, but he's back to winning and hopefully that helps him move on from Augusta.

3. Matt Kuchar -- Kuchar has the best record at Muirfield Village in the last five years of any player in the field. He's also on fire of late, including a pair of third-place finishes in his last five starts.

4. Rory McIlroy -- McIlroy is absolutely majestic when he's playing his best golf. It's the prettiest of the Big Three. He has a solid Memorial record and he's feeling very confident.

5. Hideki Matsuyama -- Matsuyama is a former winner here and he's been flexing his ballstriking muscle of late. Putting is the knock on him, but he's middle of the Tour this year. Good enough for us.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: June 2, 2016, 1:52 am

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The PGA Tour is moving one of its signature events from the Trump Doral in Miami to Mexico City. Doral had hosted the WGC - Cadillac Championship for 54 years, but after Cadillac withdrew as a sponsor, the PGA Tour was unable to find a replacement.

The Tour informed tournament director Butch Buchholz on Tuesday night of the impending departure. Buchholz denied that the reason for the move was the many incendiary comments made by Trump Doral owner, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump in recent months: "Cadillac was going to leave,” Buchholz told the Miami Herald. “It had nothing to do with Trump. They [are] changing their whole marketing strategy. The Tour had almost a year to find a replacement.” 

Donald Trump greets Tiger Woods in 2013 at what turned out to be one of the last PGA Tour tournaments at Trump Doral. (Getty)Of course, Cadillac's departure and the inability to find a new sponsor are two different issues. Trump's rhetoric has already caused major corporations such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Google, and Wal-Mart to reassess or scale back their sponsorship of the Republican national convention. It's not a huge leap to assume that corporate sponsors are similarly uneasy about sponsoring a tournament with Trump's own property at its heart.

Trump himself took a parting shot at the PGA Tour's back on Sean Hannity's show on Tuesday night, as transcribed by the Miami Herald: “I mean, I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico as an example,” Trump said. “They’re taking it — it’s at Doral, it’s at — they used one of my places. They’re moving their tournament, it’s the Cadillac World Golf Championship. And Cadillac’s been a great sponsor, but they’re moving it to Mexico. They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance."

Earlier this year, he'd indicated that he would actually make more money if the PGA Tour moved its little tournament out of his way: "Look, it's very expensive for me to have the tournament there, because I have 100 percent occupancy," he said in March. "It costs me a lot of money. So if they want to move it, that's up to them. I think they would be foolish to want to move it, because it's the best course in Florida. It's the best tournament course in Florida, by far, and it's a big course; it's got tremendous history."

He's probably not wrong; rounds alone at Trump Doral run $495, to say nothing of the added revenue from guests rather than tournament officials staying on property.

Of course, while Trump may benefit from the tournament's departure, those with a few less millions to their name will not: "I am very disappointed to hear that the PGA Tour is leaving Miami-Dade County and the City of Doral," Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez said in a statement. "Our community has hosted the tournament for the last half century. The PGA has been a great partner in Miami-Dade, making long-term pledges to the United Way and First Tee of South Florida. It is disappointing to learn that these charitable causes are now left without those valued contributions. What is equally disappointing is that the businesses in the City of Doral, and throughout our county, will no longer have the opportunity to take advantage of a world-class event, and the economic benefits it brings."

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 1, 2016, 2:54 pm

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Golf has a new superstar, and her name is Ariya Jutanugarn.

Actually, Jutanugarn has been a superstar since the start of May, but she capped off an incredible month on Sunday at the inaugural LPGA Volvik Championship by winning her third consecutive event, by five shots over Christina Kim at 15-under 273.

No player in LPGA history -- which dates back to 1950 -- has done what the 20-year-old Thai has accomplished in winning her first three titles in consecutive fashion.

Each of her first two wins, coming at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Alabama and the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia, were by one-stroke margins. Jutanugarn didn't have to sweat the final several holes this time around, making birdie on four of the last five holes to wrap up the win with a closing 67 at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Jutanugarn's streak began after letting the LPGA's first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, slip through her grasp in April. She had the tournament in hand with three holes to play, ultimately fading before Lydia Ko took her second consecutive major title. Jutanugarn finished inside the top 20 in the three starts immediately after that loss before her current run. Now, she has an opportunity to avenge that major meltdown in her next start, which will be the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, starting in 10 days at Sahalee C.C. in Washington.

If Jutanugarn can win her first major, then she'll have an opportunity to tie the LPGA record for the most wins in a row. Both Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05) have won five straight LPGA starts.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Talking tracking golf performance with Game Golf CEO John McGuire

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: May 29, 2016, 11:30 pm

Jordan Spieth is Jordan Spieth again.

Spieth won the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas, on Sunday, pulling away for a three-shot win on the back of a nine-putt final nine.

The 22-year-old shot 5-under 30 at Hogan's Alley to post a second consecutive 5-under 65 and post a 17-under 263 tally.

In picking up his eighth career PGA Tour win and first in his home state of Texas, Spieth needed a little good luck and relied heavily on his short game. For the week, Spieth hit just half of the fairways on the tree-lined course, requiring him to play frequently out of unfavorable rough lies. He often had to get up-and-down for key pars out of bunkers and tall grass -- something he did for 54 holes last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson but was unable to do in the final round, when he shot 74 to drop from second place into a share of 18th position.

The putter came alive for Spieth starting at the par-3 eighth, where he made a 32-foot par putt to continue a string of pars to start the round. He went out in even-par 35 with only pars on the card.

Spieth got into gear on the second nine, making three consecutive birdies to start the side, starting with a 20-footer on No. 10. He made short work of the par-5 11th with an easy up-and-down for birdie, then he stuck his approach shot to the 12th to just 4 feet for a simple birdie. 

He was fortunate in two particular instances on the back nine, including on the 13th, when, after a poor tee shot, he bladed his bunker shot toward the water. However, the ball didn't fly far enough to catch the hazard and Spieth saved bogey. On the par-4 17th, Spieth's tee shot hit the foot of a volunteer, bouncing from the tree line to the first cut of rough. Then, when Spieth went long with a flier lie for his second shot, he pitched in from behind the green for an unlikely, tournament-clinching birdie.

After playing a safe shot into the par-4 18th, Spieth made the 35-foot birdie putt to finish with a birdie and pick up the victory.

Harris English finished alone in second at 14 under par, while Colonial member Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson, Spieth's playing companions in the Sunday final group, each finished tied for third at 13 under par.

Heading into next week's Memorial Tournament, Spieth, world No. 1 Jason Day and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy have won in their last worldwide start, setting up not only a showdown at Muirfield Village in Ohio but also at the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in early June.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Talking tracking golf performance with Game Golf CEO John McGuire

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: May 29, 2016, 11:14 pm

For the second consecutive Sunday, Jordan Spieth finds himself with the final tee time in the concluding round of a PGA Tour event in Texas.

Once again, the 22-year-old is hoping to be the lone star atop the leaderboard. ... Sorry.

Spieth carries a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, sitting at 12-under 198 and one clear of Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson. He's looking for his first pro win in the state of Texas, and he's looking to do it at Hogan's Alley in Ft. Worth at Colonial Country Club, where he finished runner-up last year to Chris Kirk. 

A week ago, Spieth had to stare down the monstrous drives of Brooks Koepka in Irving at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Holding his game together with the glue of his short game, Spieth faded on Sunday, shooting a 74 that dropped him into a tie for 18th place on a course that doesn't truly suit his game.

This week, Spieth will have to compete for the gallery's affection with Ryan Palmer, his Sunday competitive partner and a member at the host club. Overnight rains also forced the PGA Tour's hand, shifting to threesomes. That means Webb Simpson, also at 11 under par with Palmer, will make it a threesome.

"It will be a fun dynamic," said Spieth, who shot a 5-under 65 on Saturday. "It'll be cool because as a member, he'll have tons of support and we have had tons of support this week."

There will also be a little collegiate rivalry in the final pairing. Spieth went to the University of Texas and led their men's golf team to a national championship. Palmer, 39, went to rival Texas A&M.

“A Longhorn and an Aggie, that’s going to be the fun part of the thing,” Palmer said. “I’ll tell Jordan to wear burnt orange and I’ll wear my maroon. But both colors won’t look good with that (plaid) jacket, either.”

Spieth is looking for his eighth PGA Tour win and first since surrendering a five-shot lead with nine holes to play at the Masters in April.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Talking tracking golf performance with Game Golf CEO John McGuire

Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: May 29, 2016, 1:15 pm

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