8am Round-Up: Chief referee and video stations in place for US Open

The United States Golf Association (USGA) insists it has 'learned a great deal' since last year's US Open rules fiasco. Picture: Getty Images
The United States Golf Association (USGA) insists it has 'learned a great deal' since last year's US Open rules fiasco. Picture: Getty Images
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The appointment of a chief referee, coupled with four on-course video stations, is the USGA’s reaction to last year’s US Open rules fiasco.

The steps were revealed for the 117th staging of the event, which gets underway today at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

Twelve months ago, at Oakmont, Dustin Johnson triumphed despite being hit with a one-stroke penalty for a ball-moving infringement that has since led to that particular rule being altered.

In an attempt to try and avoid anything similar happening over the next four days, the USGA has appointed a chief referee, Thomas Pagel, for the first time in the season’s second major.

“Through our work over the last 12 months, we have learned a great deal,’’ said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s managing director of rules, competitions and equipment standards, on the eve of the event.

“And our focus over those months has primarily been three things. First, to expedite our ruling process to ensure that we’re more timely in our rulings. To be decisive in our decision-making. And to more effectively communicate to the players and all of you.”

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Defending champion Dustin Johnson has revealed he’d not have been teeing it up at Erin Hills today if his partner was still waiting to give birth.

The world No 1 delayed his arrival in Wisconsin, arriving on Tueday afternoon after Paulina Gretzky had given birth to the couple’s second son, River Jones.

“It [his playing] depended on when she had the baby or when we could have it,” said Johnson in a press conference.

“Yeah, it was definitely a thought, but everything worked out. Paulina [Gretzky] and my son, they’re at home now. She’s a lot more comfortable and everybody is healthy.

“Obviously that’s a big relief, not having to worry about them. But now I’ve got to play golf. This is why I’m here. I’m here to compete. That’s my job this week.”

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Phil Mickelson’s caddie has arrived at Erin Hills - and now Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay faces an anxous wait to see if his boss will get there for his first-round tee-time.

Mickelson is attending his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in southern California this morning before heading to Wisconsin.

The six-time US Open runner-up reckons he needs a four-hour delay to have a chance and thunderstorms are in the local forecast.

“He wants it, obviously, as badly as he wants anything else,” Mackay told Fox Sports. “So it would be a really cool thing if it worked out for him tomorrow.

“Knowing Phil and knowing how much he wants to play, it wouldn’t surprise me if he left if rain wasn’t in the forecast. You never know out here with this kind of humidity. Storms can roll up unexpectedly.

“I’m leaving him alone, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he left, flew a little bit and then if the guys tee off at 2:20, turn around and go home.”

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Bidding to land the biggest win of his career, Conor O’Neil is tied for the lead heading into the final round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters at Montrose Links.

O’Neil, who is attached to Mearns Castle Golf Academy, sits alongside English pair Chris Lloyd (The Kendleshire) and Daniel Wasteney (Bondhay) on 11-under-par after another low scoring-day at the Angus venue.

Backing up his opening 66, O’Neil signed for eight birdies, including five in a row from the fifth, as he kept alive hopes of a home win despite Michael Stewart slipping from one off the lead to eight behind after a second-round 72 that included two triple-bogeys 7s in three holes.

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Paul O’Hara (North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd) and Chris Currie (Caldwell) are both in contention at the halfway stage in the Titleist and Footjoy PGA Pros Championship in Ireland.

Home hope Brendan McGovern leads on 137, seven-under, after a second-round 66 but O’Hara and Caldwell sit just three and four shots off the lead respectively after the Scottish duo both signed for 71s at Luttrellstown Castle.

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Aboyne’s Shannon McWilliam led five Scots into the match-play phase of the Ladies British Championship at Pyle & Kenfig in Wales.

Connie Jaffrey (Troon Ladies), Gemma Batty (Moffat), Chloe Goadby (St Regulus) and Lauren Whyte (St Regulus) also progressed behind Ireland’s Paula Grant, the leading qualifier on four-under 138 (70-68).