Golf Links: Sunday, June 18 news and updates

Jun 17, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Beer and snacks sales at Erin Hills during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Beer and snacks sales at Erin Hills during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

Golf Links connects you to Sunday morning’s major golf news: this morning tightly contested final rounds at Erin Hills and Blythefield top the headlines, with Kip Henley and Lorena Maguire also making a bit of golf news.

The ProGolfNow Golf Links column provides a quick way to get your Sunday morning golf news and stay on top of the game, wherever it’s being played.

Golf is being played at the highest level today at the 117th U.S. Open but there’s also a fierce battle raging as the Meijer LPGA Classic field goes into its final round as well.

Sunday at Erin Hills and Blythefield

Championship Sunday at Erin Hills has all the makings of high drama. We are almost certain that the new U.S. Open champion will be hoisting his first major championship trophy, but which one will it be?

Brian Harman, not the lefty we’d imagined would be in this position, is going to the tee with the slimmest of leads. He’s one of those guys who hangs out in the Georgia sea islands rather than Jupiter, Florida. With two PGA TOUR victories on his resume, most recently at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship, Harman’s ranked 50th in the OWGR and 11th in FedEx Cup points. His recent performance – a T3 at the CareerBuilder Challenge and a T7 at the Dean and Deluca – put him a bit out in front of his playing stats for the season. He’s clearly dialed in.

And yet, right behind Harman on the leaderboard Justin Thomas, Brooke Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rickie Fowler are all coming in just as hot. Thomas and Fowler look like better bets, but there’s an unpredictability about Championship Sunday. Given what can happen when a ball finds the fescue, this thing isn’t out of reach for Patrick Reed or Charley Hoffman or even Hideki Matsuyama, if he gets hot and lucky simultaneously.

FOX begins live coverage of Championship Sunday at 11am ET and I’ll be there with everybody else, ready to watch the final phase of this battle unfold.

There’s much the same situation unfolding about 2 hours south, in Grand Rapids, although the immediate stakes are a bit lower. There, on the Blythefield track,16 players are within a five-shot striking distance of Lexi Thompson’s 15-under par going into Sunday at the Meijer LPGA Classic. The field is playing the final round on a golf course that’s been softened by rain. The greens are very receptive and I’m looking for the birdies to be dropping for everybody.

Golf Channel begins coverage of the final round at the Miejer at 11am ET. Let’s see if Thompson can close this deal and get on with her run-up to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the next major on the LPGA calendar.

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Moving Balls, Flying Clubs, and Freaky Tragedies

The 117th  U.S. Open has, for the most part, gone smoother than many predicted. Although Dustin Johnson accidentally kicked (and thus moved) Jordan Spieth’s ball while he was looking for his own, a quick consultation with the USGA rules officials resolved the incident – Spieth’s ball was returned as closely as possible to it’s original position in the rough and DJ incurred no penalty. Wheew!

Jon Rahm sort of decomposed, dropped an F-bomb or two, slammed a couple of clubs and a bunker rake around in anger, and missed the cut. The Twitterverse briefly twittered – Golf Digest’s Stina Steinberg described Rahm’s tantrum as behavior that’s not “tolerable from a toddler, let alone a rising star of the sport,” but by Saturday the episode had receded in importance and interest.

The blimp crash is another matter entirely, as is the spectator death – a 94 year old man collapsed in the grandstand adjacent to the 6th hole and EMS personnel weren’t able to revive him.

Caddie Tells All

Kip Henley, a Big Break winner, once a mini-tour player, and now a PGA TOUR caddie, sat down with’s Alan Shipnuck and shared everything he knows about caddying, PGA TOUR players and cheating, and caddying for Brian Gay and Vijay Singh.

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Singh fired Henley shortly after this podcast was recorded. I don’t know if that piece of information is relevant, but it does add a bit of complexity to Henley’s observations.

U.S. Women’s Open

Although the 72nd U.S. Women’s Open is still a month in the future, the field got some new additions this week. Carly Booth, Caroline Hedwall, Meghan MacLaren and Kelsey MacDonald all got their tickets to Trump National Golf Course punched at the Sectional Qualifier-Europe at Buckinghamshire Golf Club this week and, with her victory at the Ladies British Amateur Championship, Ireland’s Leona Maguire has also joined the field.

For today, however, we’ll turn out focus to Erin Hills and the selection of the new U.S. Open champion. It’s Championship Sunday!

Next: U.S. Open: Tiger, DJ, and a decade of champions

Who will you be watching today? Will it be Brian Harman, Saturday’s leader, who hoists the U.S. Open trophy, or will one of the following pack overtake him?