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US Open qualifying; flowers and chocolates for hit spectator

Updated at: 05/31/2016 12:55 PM
By DOUG FERGUSON

(AP) DUBLIN, Ohio - DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — This isn't necessarily the busiest time of the year for Jeff Hall, though it might be the most complicated.

Hall is the managing director of rules and competition for the USGA, and as the final stage of qualifying gets going for the U.S. Open, his job is to crunch numbers to figure out how many spots to allocate Monday to the 10 qualifying sites across America.

Two sectional qualifiers are done. The Japan qualifier last week was awarded four spots for 40 players. The England qualifier was Monday, and 13 players out of 95 qualified for Oakmont on June 16-19.

There's a science to the process — and a lot of math.

"You're going to have some subjectivity," Hall said. "But with the OWGR, it's also objective."

That would be the Official World Golf Ranking, and Hall said his computer experts help merge world ranking data with USGA data to figure out the strongest fields and how to distribute the spots available.

What makes the U.S. Open stand out is that in most years, roughly half of the 156-man field has to qualify.

Typical of golf at this level, there is bound to be some complaining about one site getting too many spots and another not getting enough, and most of the attention is on the so-called PGA Tour sites (Columbus for those at the Memorial and Memphis, Tennessee, for those planning to play the FedEx St. Jude Classic).

Hall's advice is to "take the names out and look at the data."

The work doesn't end with Monday's sectional qualifying. Perhaps the most mysterious part — at least to the public — is the U.S. Open alternate list. That list also is determined by how many spots were allocated to each qualifier.

It would seem the strongest fields — Columbus, Memphis, London — would be first in line for alternates. But that's not always the case.

For example, if the USGA is torn between giving 14 or 15 spots to Columbus and it opts for 15, then that site might not be high on the list of alternates. Or if the Dallas site gets only five spots instead of six, it likely would move toward the top of the list.

Once the USGA compiles the order for the alternate list from sectional sites, it depends on who withdraws. If a player from a sectional qualifier withdraws, the alternate from that section gets in. If it's an exempt player — Tiger Woods, for example — then it goes off the top of the main alternate list. The main list also is used if no alternate from a section can get to Oakmont in time.

If all that isn't enough for a mathematical migraine, Hall has one more equation.

Because the U.S. Open has one more cutoff from the world ranking on Monday of the U.S. Open, he has to figure how out many possible players can crack the top 60 and be sure to save space for them — which means limiting how many spots are given to sectional qualifiers.

So if Hall saves five spots for players to get into the top 60 and only three make it, the other two spots go to alternates on the main list.

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FINAU'S GESTURE: Tony Finau is not the first player to hit someone in the gallery with an errant tee shot. However, he took an extraordinary step by showing up at his victim's house the next day to check on her well-being and bring flowers and chocolate.

Finau's shot hit a woman in the head on the 11th hole Saturday at the Colonial, and she was still on the ground and bleeding when he arrived.

The woman was identified as Elisa on Instagram when she posted side-by-side photos — one of her bloodied head, the other posing with Finau holding flowers and a bag. Finau found her address and made the special delivery, then stayed to visit with her family. She needed a few stitches, but was doing well.

Elisa referred to it as a "very stand up gesture" on Instagram and included hash tags of "iforgiveyou", "prettyawesome", "FOOOOREE", "ouch" and "classact."

The 26-year-old Finau told the PGA Tour's website that the gifts were "the least I could do."

"I wanted to make sure I was on good terms with her and her family and just make sure she knows that I didn't just hit her and I don't really care," Finau said. "We're not out here to hit people. I wanted to make sure she knew that at least I cared."

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JUTANUGARN JUGGERNAUT: All it took was three weeks for the LPGA Tour to have a battle for the top.

Lydia Ko still has an enormous gap atop the women's world ranking and likely will stay there for some time. However, Ariya Jutanugarn now has an LPGA Tour-best three victories (Ko has won twice), and her third straight victory Sunday in Michigan moved her within about $120,000 of Ko on the money list.

Consider how the landscape would appear if the ANA Inspiration had turned out differently.

Jutanugarn had a two-shot lead with three holes to play in the first major of the year. She made bogey on the final three holes, hooking her tee shot on the par-5 18th into the water. Ko laid up on the 18th and made birdie to win.

Ko has won the last two majors. Jutanugarn has won the last three tournaments. Next week is the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.

"I badly want to win my first major," Jutanugarn said.

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RYDER CUP ASSISTANTS: European captain Darren Clarke has selected Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie as his Ryder Cup assistants.

For Bjorn, this will be his seventh time to a Ryder Cup dating to 1997. He was on three winning teams as a player, and this will be his fourth stint as a vice captain. The last time Bjorn was not part of the European team was at Valhalla in 2008.

Harrington, who played in six Ryder Cups, was one of Paul McGinley's assistants last time at Gleneagles, while Lawrie has played in two cups.

Clarke still has two more assistants to pick. The matches start Sept. 30 at Hazeltine.

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FOUND IN TRANSLATION: The LPGA Tour has chosen New York-based TransPerfect to be its official provider of translation and interpretation service.

The LPGA Tour, the first truly global golf tour, has 2,300 members around the world who are teaching or club professionals, or players. Its website is available in six languages, the tour says fans from 235 countries visit the website each year.

TransPerfect, certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council, will translate documents and provide interpretation to help the LPGA with its members, partners, players and help promote the tour and its players in global markets. The multi-year deal also includes live interpretation at the four player meetings each year and translating LPGA regulations and anti-doping protocol.

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DIVOTS: Emiliano Grillo said on Twitter that he made his first bogey of the week at Muirfield Village without ever hitting a shot. "I just asked for an 'Arnold Palmer' at Mr Nicklaus' house," he tweeted. ... The Kittansett Club across from Cape Cod will host the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2022. It will be the club's first USGA championship since the 1953 Walker Cup, when the U.S. team featured Gene Littler and Ken Venturi. ... Kyle Reifers, who caddied at Muirfield Village as a teen, is playing for the 14th time in the last 16 weeks. He only missed the World Golf Championship at Doral and the Masters, for which he was not eligible.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: With his tie for third at Colonial, Ryan Palmer became the 58th player to surpass $20 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.

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FINAL WORD: "They both fit great." — Jordan Spieth, asked to compare the green jacket from the Masters with the plaid jacket from winning at Colonial.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)