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Simpson runs afoul of rulebook again

It probably won't cost Webb Simpson a tournament this time. Still, he must be wondering what he did to get on the wrong side of the golf gods.

Simpson's early round of 5-under 66 at the U.S. Open on Saturday included a penalty stroke when his ball moved after he addressed it with his putter on the 13th green. It was the same penalty he took seven weeks ago at the Zurich Open in New Orleans.

"I addressed the ball, and the ball moved about a half-inch, quarter-inch," Simpson said. "I think we've been through this too many times, hadn't we? But it was kind of the same deal as New Orleans. It was unfortunate, but I think it really made me committed to try to finish strong."

But it was the misfortune at Zurich that might lead to a change in the rules of golf. He was leading by a shot and heading for a tap-in on the 15th hole on Sunday, but the ball moved as he addressed it on the green. He wound up taking a penalty and finished in a tie with Bubba Watson, who won the playoff.

The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient are looking into changing the rule so that the golfer isn't penalized if it can be proven the ball was moved by an outside force.

But it was still in effect at the U.S. Open, which cost Simpson a stroke in the best round of the early going.

Simpson managed to come out even on a more adventurous hole. His drive at No. 18 landed in the lap of a spectator sitting cross-legged on the ground along the ropes. The fan dutifully sat there alone as everyone around him retreated. Simpson walked up to him and humorously pantomimed a swing, as if he were going to play the ball from exactly where it was.

"I'm a pretty experienced golfer," said the fan, Todd Parker, "so I knew not to move."

A rules official came along and instructed Simpson to pick up the ball. He took a drop and made a nice recovery, even though his follow-through smacked against the trunk of a large tree. He parred the hole.

* * *

Yes, Bubba Watson is indeed changing his clothes every day during the U.S. Open. The military green shirt and camouflage pants he's been wearing? He actually brought four sets to Congressional, one to wear for each round.

The getup was the result of a contest he held on Twitter and Facebook for fans to design a shirt for him to wear. The winner received a free trip to the championship.

After the tournament, the shirts will be sold for charity, the proceeds going to the Green Beret Foundation.

"My dad was in Vietnam," Watson said. "So, yeah, actually it's a big part of us. We don't like war, but at the same time the people over there are fighting so we can play golf for a living, we've got to support them."

* * *

Even the amateurs aren't succumbing to the rigors of the Blue Course.

Patrick Cantlay is 1 under after his third-round 70. The highlight came when the 19-year-old Californian holed out from the bunker at No. 15 for a birdie.

"That was really exciting," Cantlay said. "It was kind of a tough bunker shot because the green runs away from you, but I nipped it pretty good and it ended up going in."

Cantlay completed his freshman year at UCLA and this month won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top college golfer. His visit to Congressional this week is also proving to be an education for when he turns pro, which he says won't happen until he's earned his degree.

Cantlay isn't a sure bet to be the low amateur. He's one stroke ahead of Russell Henley, who shot 71.

* * *

Adam Hadwin arrived at the U.S. Open early Saturday with one hole to play. Shoot a birdie, and he'd get to play 36 more.

The 22-year-old from British Columbia was about to tee off at No. 9 Friday evening when the horn sounded, suspending play for the day. He was at 5 over, one stroke below the cut line.

"I was in the clubhouse and I checked the scores and I knew that 4 was going to be the number, so I needed birdie," Hadwin said. "It was a late night, early morning."

Teeing off at 8:15 a.m. at the long par 5, Hadwin put his drive in the rough, got his second shot to 98 yards and nailed his approach within 6 inches. Easy birdie putt. Cut made. His trip to Congressional will come with a paycheck.

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