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Eason, Strom make jumps in WAGR

Bill Zimmerman

Greg Eason and Linnea Strom made the most significant jumps of the week in the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking, Eason winning the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational while playing for Central Florida and Strom winning the Spanish Ladies Amateur Championship.

Eason's 71-65-69—205 week put him three shots clear of UAB's Sam Love and lifted UCF to second place behind Oklahoma State.

It also lifted Eason five spots to fourth in the WAGR.

Strom, meanwhile, jumped to No. 16 as she climbed eight spots in the rankings after defeating Annabel Dimmock 2 & 1 in the final in Spain. Strom also finished third at December's Junior Orange Bowl International Championship.

The men's top three remains Patrick Rodgers, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Cory Whitsett.

Minjee Lee continues to lead the women's rankings, with Annie Park passing Alison Lee this week to take over second place.


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Achenbach: USGA decision is sign of times

James Achenbach

PINEHURST, N.C. – Few things are more incompatible in tournament golf than a dumb golfer with a smartphone.

Smartphones once again are front and center in golf, thanks to an announcement Thursday by the U.S. Golf Association that distance-measuring devices will be allowed in all USGA amateur championships. These devices will remain forbidden in the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and their respective qualifying events.

The provision takes effect immediately, meaning that competitors in the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women's Amateur and all other 2014 USGA amateur championships can carry laser rangefinders and GPS satellite units that meet specified requirements under the Rules of Golf.

Smartphones, with the appropriate apps, can serve as GPS distance-measuring devices. However, a key question applies to smartphones on the golf course: What is legal and what is illegal?

If a golfer is smarter than his smartphone, he will understand that distance-measuring devices are not allowed to gauge the slope of the ground, the strength and direction of the wind or the air temperature on a golf course. A smartphone that provides such information is nonconforming by definition.

Even if a golfer does not access ...

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Jones Cup draws NCAA, Walker winners for '14

amateurgolf.com

SEA ISLAND, Ga. – For a tournament that originally served as a Walker Cup preview in 2001, the Jones Cup still draws a strong field to Ocean Forest GC.

“As far as rankings go,” said Kory Reitz tournament director, "this is by far our best event and best field we’ve been able to get. Walker Cup captains are usually here and this event plays into their selection process.”

Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt, who were on the winning 2013 U.S. Walker Cup squad as well as Alabama's national-championship team, will be joined by fellow Walker Cupper Michael Weaver of Cal when the tournament begins on Friday. The mid-amateur contingency is, too, well- represented again at this year’s event. Past U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Mike McCoy and Nathan Smith – two 2015 Walker Cup contenders – lead the way.

Other U.S. contenders include recent BYU graduate Zac Blair, SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau, Tyler Dunlap of Texas A&M, Brandon Hagy of Cal Michael Johnson of Auburn, South Florida’s Chase Koepka, recent Tennessee grad Richard Lamb, South Carolina’s Matthew Nesmith, Alabama’s Robby Shelton and LSU’s Curtis Thompson.

Some of the nation’s top junior players are ...

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Grooves rule takes effect for amateurs

Bill Zimmerman

As of Wednesday, all clubs used by competitors in USGA amateur championships and qualifying events must employ grooves that conform to the association's 2010 rule change. The USGA, therefore, also announced resources to help players comply.

USGA representatives are being made available to test clubs or answer questions, the organization wrote on its website. Players can begin at www.usga.org/grooves for more information. From there, they can consult a club database that allows players to check whether their make and model of club has been ruled as conforming. The USGA also plans a page of frequently asked questions about the groove rule.

Golfers competing in "elite amateur events," the USGA said, can take part in the Open Championship Player Club Testing program as well. The association's website also offers information on submitting clubs for testing.


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2020 Tokyo Olympics eye Kasumigaseki for golf

Bill Zimmerman

Tokyo's winning bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics includes the selection of Kasumigaseki Country Club, northwest of the city, as the intended host if golf is part of the games.

Kasumigaseki, a 36-hole facility, played host to the 2010 Asian Amateur won by Hideki Matsuyama on its West Course. In 1957 it hosted the World Cup (then known as the Canada Cup) on its East Course as Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono of Japan claimed the title over Jimmy Demaret and Sam Snead of the U.S. Kasumigaseki also has hosted the Japan Open four times and the Japan Women's Open once, according to the club's website.

The East Course opened in 1929 and was redesigned the next year by Charles H. Alison, a disciple of Harry Colt's who incorporated 129 bunkers into the layout. The West Course was designed by Seiichi Inoue.

Set in the hilly, green Musashino region about an hour from Tokyo, Kasumigaseki is a private club.


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Notes: After Trans victory, Suh could be next Cal star

Julie Williams

So far this summer, Cal junior Michael Kim has appeared in roughly every third major amateur headline, and deservedly so.

Kim put together a sophomore season that ended with Golfweek's Player of the Year honor and the Nicklaus and Haskins awards. He was low amateur at the U.S. Open and recently was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team.

As for Cal’s women, however, the most successful summer belongs to sophomore Hannah Suh. The San Jose, Calif., native was the last player into the U.S. Women’s Open when Ariya Jutanugarn withdrew (Suh missed the cut at Sebonack Golf Club), and most recently, won the Trans National Amateur on July 12.

Suh was at a Cal golf camp when the U.S. Golf Association called June 25 to inform her that she had a spot in the championship. Suh didn't recognize the number, so she didn't pick up immediately.

"It was just a great experience," she said of her first Women's Open start, even though crowds on Long Island at the beginning of the week made her a little bit nervous.

Suh had a few off days between returning from Sebonack and ...

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Commercial appearance costs Pieri amateur status

Julie Williams

Scott Pieri is a well-known name in Fort Wayne, Ind., golf circles. The 45-year-old is a five-time Fort Wayne City champion, finished runner-up at the Indiana State Amateur in 2012 and is a former area club professional. Recently, Pieri made a 10-second appearance in a commercial for Golf Etc., a local club-fitting store owned by a friend, to deliver a brief testimonial, which is where his golf career took an unexpected turn.

Pieri was not compensated for the brief slot, and thought that was enough to protect his amateur status. As it turns out, he misinterpreted the rule and found out from the U.S. Golf Association on June 18 that it would cost him his status. Pieri, disappointed but respectful of the USGA’s ruling, says he won’t appeal.

“Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to know this,” Pieri said. “I just misinterpreted it.”

Pieri submitted information about appearing in the testimonial to the Indiana Golf Association when questions were raised about its legality as it applied to his amateur status. The IGA submitted Pieri’s case to the USGA.

“If I did something wrong, I’d like to know,” Pieri said of coming forward about his testimonial. “If ...

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Give college coaches a shot at Walker Cup captaincy

Lance Ringler

Editor's note: This column appeared as Inside the Ropes in the May 10 issue of Golfweek

It’s time to consider picking a college coach to captain the Walker Cup team.

The collegiate game emphasizes the team concept. With the NCAA Championship being decided by match play, the best college coaches stand out as highly qualified to guide a Walker Cup team, which uses a match-play format similar to the Ryder Cup’s.

Coaching golf at the collegiate level has become serious business. No longer are the coaches simply driving the van and dispensing hot chocolate. They serve many roles and can lead a Walker Cup roster loaded with college all-stars. After all, guiding a team is what they do 365 days each year. They are pros at it.

Captain Jim Holtgrieve, a former U.S. Golf Association champion and former touring pro, brings top credentials to the U.S. Walker Cup team for the Sept. 7-8 matches against the Great Britain & Ireland at New York’s National Golf Links on Long Island. There is no pressing need for change, though GB&I has won four of the past seven matches in a series that the U.S. leads ...

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Cloninger wins Chanticleer Senior Invitational

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Rick Cloninger of Fort Mill, S.C., won the Chanticleer Senior Invitational, finishing the 54-hole event with a 1-over 223 on the Chanticleer course at Greenville (S.C.) Country Club.

Cloninger shot a final-round 73 to move from fifth to first on the final day of the tournament. With the victory, which comes in only his second national event of the year, Cloninger move from No. 72 in the Golfweek Senior Amateur rankings into the top 30.

Starting out seven shots behind second-round leader Matt Grandy, Cloninger’s final-round 73 was enough to give him a one-shot victory over Bill Leonard of Dallas, Ga.

Cloninger might be the only player in history to represent three states –Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – in the USGA State Team Matches. He has also competed in the United States Amateur Championship and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

Although Cloninger has the game to turn professional he said, “I’m happy with the way I’ve done it and wouldn’t change it.” He said didn’t much like the idea of giving up a job with a steady paycheck for the gamble of pro-golf.

In the Super Senior Division, Mike Weiner ...

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USGA says it will take on pace-of-play issues

Golfweek Staff

By Ron Gaines, Golfweek.com

If it’s true that an organization takes on the personality of its leadership, nobody should be surprised that USGA President Glen Nager is putting slow play at the top of his list.

Five-hour rounds are unacceptable for Nager, a partner at Jones Day, a high-profile, fast-paced law firm in Washington, D.C.

“The cry that pace of play has become one of the most significant threats to the game’s health has become only louder over the last year," Nager said recently. ". . . This problem touches every golfer, from the professional to the elite amateur to the collegiate player to the millions of recreational golfers at both public and private facilities.”

In its recent announcement, the USGA has commited to making the game more welcoming, enjoyable and sustainable and is directing resources toward this new research.

The first step will be an initiative to identify challenges and solutions regarding pace-of-play issues in the game of golf.

The USGA will look at golf facilities and analyze factors such as course design and setup, along with player management and the effectiveness of player-education programs.

For players, the USGA will continue to look at the Rules of Golf ...

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Pool defends Golfweek Senior Amateur title

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Doug Pool defended his title by winning the Senior division of the Golfweek Senior Amateur by a stroke at PGA West.

The Las Vegas resident had a three-round total of 216 to beat runner up Jeff Burda from Modesto, Calif. Pool dropped shots at Nos. 3, 4, 7, and 17 – including a double bogey on the fourth – but had enough birdies on his card to make his even par round of 72 enough for victory.

Pool, known for his consistent play, said his game around the greens helped considerably.

"I didn't have my "A" game overall today but my short game was great," he said. ". . . Yesterday, when I made the birdies on No. 12 and 17 with a 30 and 15 footer, I gained a lot of confidence."

Pool's ninth-place finish last week in the Society of Seniors' Masters coupled with his win this week will move him into the top 10 in the Golfweek Senior Amateur Rankings.

"We keep our courses in top tournament condition and to see players play this well is really a tribute to the quality of the field," said Michael Ferguson, Director of Golf at PGA West.

In the Super ...

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U.S. Open sees record 9,860 entrants

Golfweek Staff

Setting a record by more than 750, the U.S. Open will feature 9,860 entrants trying to qualify for the 2013 championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., the USGA said Thursday in a news release.

Local qualifiers are set for 111 sites May 3-16. Sectional qualifiers are set for 13 sites May 27 and June 3. Registration closed April 24, when 643 registrations were accepted – including the final one from Joseph Bush, 45, a professional from Scotch Plains, N.J., just eight seconds before the 5 p.m. EDT deadline, the USGA said.

“The fact that we have a record number of entries, from across the world, is a testament to both the great appeal of the U.S. Open and the historic nature and grandeur of Merion Golf Club,” USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said.

Other years in which the U.S. Open attracted more than 9,000 entrants: 2012 (Olympic), 2010 (Pebble Beach), 2009 (Bethpage; previous record, 9,086) and 2005 (Pinehurst).

Fifty-two players among the entrants are exempt. That number will grow to include the winners of two May tournaments, the PGA Tour's Players Championship and the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship ...

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British Amateur champ Dunbar turns professional

Golfweek Staff

British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar has turned professional. The Northern Irishman signed with Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management in July 2012, when he was believed to be the first golfer to take advantage of a new rule that enabled amateurs to sign to a professional management company.

Dunbar, who turns 23 next week, missed the Masters cut after rounds of 83-77. He also won the 2009 St. Andrews Links Trophy and was a member of Great Britain & Ireland’s victorious team in the 2011 Walker Cup with a 2-1 match record.

Dunbar will begin his career with consecutive starts on the Challenge Tour: this week’s Challenge de Madrid and the following week’s Montecchia Golf Open in Italy. He also has a start in the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open on May 16-19 and Nordea Masters on May 30-June 2.

“We are delighted that Alan has agreed to let us help, encourage and guide him at the start of his professional career,” Chandler said in a statement. “I am convinced he will go a long way in the paid ranks after a glittering amateur career.”

By turning professional, Dunbar gave up an invitation to this year’s ...

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Jordan's fashion sense getting him in trouble

Golfweek Staff

Michael Jordan wore cargo pants to play a round of golf at the high-end La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach.

That’s a no-no.

Jordan’s multipocketed pants were against the dress code that says members and guest must wear a collared shirt and Bermuda shorts, according to a New York Post article.

The article also states that a rep for Jordan said, “Michael Jordan did wear cargo pants. . . . He had been there many times before and had worn cargo pants previously, and had never been made aware that he was violating any dress code. This time, he was made aware of the violation on the 12th hole, and at that point . . . he did refuse to interrupt his game and return to the clubhouse and change. We were not aware that he is not allowed to return to La Gorce. I guess it’s their loss – as MJ is a great golfer, and a great guest.”

This fashion faux pas comes two months after Jordan was inside the ropes at Medinah Country Club for the Ryder Cup with a pair of jeans on.

Has he finally learned his lesson?


Detroit Tigers ace has trouble on the course

Golfweek Staff

Play the ball as it lies.

It was a tough break for Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander as his ball landed on a tree stump while playing a round of golf at Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., over the weekend.

His tweet:

Golf fans made reference to the 1996 golf movie Happy Gillmore, starring Adam Sandler. More specifically, when Shooter McGavin landed a shot on ‘Frankenstein’s fat foot,’ (the character known in the movie as Mr. Larson). In response, the pariodied account of McGavin reminded the Tigers ace that golf does indeed have a rulebook.

A hilarious scenario, but no answer as to whether Verlander hit the shot.

A rule is a rule.

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