Matt Gogel's Homecoming
A Local's Knowledge
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Matt Gogel finished 12th at
the U.S. Open. Best known as the hit-and-run victim left behind
as Tiger Woods charged from seven back with seven holes to play
to win last year's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Gogel, 30,
caddied at Southern Hills during the summer of 1988 and learned
to play on a lighted par-3 course at nearby LaFortune Park.
Gogel was 12 when his family moved to Tulsa from Lawrence, Kans.,
and he and his older brother, Mike, became regulars at LaFortune
Park. "LaFortune was our babysitter," Gogel says. "We moved here
in July, too late to join a baseball team. You could play all day
at LaFortune for $2. My dad would drop us off on his way to work,
and my mom would pick us up later. We had a blast."
Gogel, who ranked 164th on the Tour's money list before the Open,
went on to win the state high school championship in 1989 and the
Oklahoma Amateur in 1990. He was a star at Kansas, winning the
Big Eight title in '91 after having transferred from Oklahoma
following his freshman year. He has fond memories of LaFortune's
par-3 course, on which no hole is longer than 177 yards and the
lights stay on until 11 p.m. "They used to have stairs on the 8th
hole so you could climb the fence and go to the convenience store
to get something to drink," Gogel says. "The first time we played
there, my mom was with us, and I hit a shot that bounced off a
bridge and onto the green."
In addition to the par-3 layout, LaFortune Park has a full-sized
18-hole course, a grass range and two putting greens, all part of
a complex that includes tennis courts, baseball diamonds and
jogging trails. During the Open, the par-3 course was
hacking-room-only, making it one of Tulsa's most popular spots.
The TV in the snack bar was tuned to the Open, but there was
little talk of LaFortune's most famous alum, who now lives near
Kansas City, Mo. "I don't think anybody here remembers him," says
assistant pro David Bridges. Adds Gogel, who hasn't visited
LaFortune since he was a teenager, "I'm sure they don't have my
picture on a wall."
Janzen, Duval Upset by Rulings
Two rules incidents on Southern Hills's 9th fairway had a couple
of Tour players seeing red last Saturday. One involved two-time
U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, whose two-stroke penalty for
improving his lie in the first round was assessed 24 hours after
the infraction and caused him to miss the cut by one. The other
had to do with David Duval, who angrily confronted USGA officials
after being denied a drop from a crosswalk on the 9th fairway.
Janzen was at three over par last Thursday and getting ready to
hit his approach to the 9th hole when rain delayed the round.
After returning to the 9th fairway to resume play on Friday
morning, he noticed that mowers had swerved around the marker he
had left in the turf. Instead of hitting from what he called a
"big glop of dew," Janzen toweled off the fairway before
replacing his ball. James Halliday, the Royal Canadian Golf
Association rules committee chairman, who was working his first
U.S. Open, witnessed Janzen's actions but said nothing. It didn't
occur to Halliday that Janzen might have broken a rule until
Saturday morning, when he literally sat up in bed at 5:30,
reached for the rule book in his black-leather briefcase and
determined that Janzen had indeed broken Rule 13-2 for improving
his lie and, more specifically, Decision 13-2/25 from the Rules
of Golf for wiping away the dew.
By that time Janzen had completed two rounds in five over and
thought he had made the cut by a shot. He was getting dressed to
go to the course for the third round when USGA director of
competition Tom Meeks called to tell him that the two-shot
penalty had pushed him over the cut line. "This is our fault,"
Halliday, 53, said he was only doing his job. "I don't feel
guilty," he said. "It was unfortunate that I didn't catch it
earlier, but Mr. Janzen breached the rules." Still, Janzen was
upset that he wasn't informed of the mistake when it happened.
"At least I would have had the opportunity to rectify my
position," he said.
Duval's problem occurred when his drive in the third round
stopped in the muddy spectator crosswalk. After being denied
relief, he hit a wedge shot fat and his ball landed on the green
and spun back into the fairway. Duval kicked his divot, slammed
his club and glared at the USGA official working his twosome.
In the clubhouse parking lot, Duval lashed out at three USGA
officials. "It's ridiculous that you don't get relief there," he
said. "It was like playing on concrete. It was like playing on
this," Duval said, pointing at the asphalt. After 20 minutes
Duval ended the conversation. "I'm sorry this has been a waste of
your time," he said. The Masters and the PGA allow free drops
from crosswalks, calling them ground under repair. Meeks said the
USGA has never done so.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Gogel, 12th at Southern Hills, caddied there as a boy and learned to play at a nearby par-3.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO
What do these players have in common?
They're the only golfers to win the U.S. Open and the Buick
Classic in the same year. Els won both tournaments in 1997, Irwin
in '90 and Nicklaus in '67 and '72.
Earl Woods says marriage could have a negative impact on Tiger's
game, while Jack Nicklaus says it would be a positive. With whom
do you agree?
--Based on 988 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Will Woods ever win the Grand Slam?
Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
Woods's scoring average in the last five major championships far
surpasses that of any other player, but it is only a shade
higher than his average in other Tour events over that span.
Here are the players with the lowest averages in those majors
and their Tour averages.
Tour Events Majors
1. Tiger Woods 68.18 68.30
2. Phil Mickelson 69.31 70.50
3. David Duval 69.87 70.63
4. Paul Azinger 70.00 70.80
5. M. Calcavecchia 69.82 70.81
6. Chris DiMarco 70.09 70.86
7. Ernie Els 70.71 71.10
8. J.M. Olazabal 71.05 71.22
9. Thomas Bjorn 71.31 71.28
10. Stewart Cink 70.09 71.33
Southern Hills Country Club deserves another U.S. Open, and
soon. The course is challenging, yet fair--although the 9th and
18th greens could stand some tweaking--and it resists low
scores. More important, the best player in the world found
himself baffled by it.
A U.S. Open without controversy? As Hall Thompson might say, that
just isn't done. Last week the tradition continued, when players
wailed that Southern Hills's slick, sloping 18th green was
unfair. Here are some notorious incidents from years past. Can
you match the faux pas with the Open?
1. The day after Lon Hinkle took a shortcut on a par-5--he
reached the green in two by driving into an adjacent
fairway--the USGA planted a 24-foot spruce, the Hinkle Tree, by
the tee to block his way.
2. Seve Ballesteros was stuck in traffic, and by the time he
made it to the 1st tee for his second round, his playing
partners had already hit their approach shots on the hole.
Ballesteros was DQ'd and angrily said he would never play in the
3. Everyone ripped this first-time Open venue, which had 13
doglegs and numerous blind shots, but it was Dave Hill who put a
fine point on the criticism by saying that all the course lacked
was "80 acres of corn and a few cows."
4. This Open's defining moment came in the second round, when
Payne Stewart watched in horror as his eight-foot birdie putt on
the 18th green just missed, then took a left turn and trundled
another 25 feet to the front of the green.
5. When the playoff between Mike Donald and Hale Irwin was tied
after 18 holes, this Open reverted to sudden death. USGA director
of rules and competitions P.J. Boatwright permitted Irwin to tee
off first because he held the honor, although Donald argued that
in medal play the honor should have been determined by draw.
Donald lost the Open when Irwin birdied the hole.
6. Midway through the first round, Denis Watson had a par putt
hang on the lip for 25 seconds before dropping. That was 15
seconds longer than allowed, and Watson was slapped with a
two-shot penalty. Watson finished second, a shot behind Andy
North, and the Rules of Golf were changed to reduce the penalty
for said infraction to one stroke.
7. On the 1st hole of the final round, USGA rules committee
chairman Trey Holland ruled that a TV crane standing between
Ernie Els's ball and the green was a temporary immovable object;
therefore Els was entitled to relief from a bad lie. Wrong. The
crane could have been moved, and Els, who bogeyed the hole and
went on to win a three-way playoff, should have played his ball
as it lay.
8. The USGA had a classic track, firm and fast, but hadn't
factored in how it might play if the wind picked up. Naturally,
the final round was played in a howling wind in excess of 40 mph,
and on Bloody Sunday, 20 of the 66 players shot 80 or higher.
9. In the second round, balls that banked off a tier behind the
pin on a par-3 hole funneled back toward the cup. As a result, a
record four holes-in-one were made there that day by (above, from
left) Doug Weaver, Jerry Pate, Nick Price and Mark Wiebe.
10. The year after Johnny Miller had won the Open by closing with
a record 63, the USGA took revenge. The result was a massacre--the
winning total was seven over.
Answers: 1. Inverness, 1979; 2. Baltusrol, 1980; 3. Hazeltine,
1970; 4. Olympic, 1998; 5. Medinah, 1990; 6. Oakland Hills, 1985;
7. Oakmont, 1994; 8. Pebble Beach, 1992; 9. Oak Hill, 1989; 10.
Winged Foot, 1974.