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Devil Ball Golf

Lee Westwood becomes the first player at the U.S. Open to hit a wicker basket

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

We all knew this would eventually happen at Merion Golf Club, a place that has wicker baskets at the top of their standards instead of traditional flagsticks. Sergio Garcia hit a basket during a practice round and it was just a matter of time before one of these very talented professionals became a victim of the uniqueness of Merion.

Lee Westwood was strolling along in his opening round at 3-under, tied for the lead at the one major championship that has seemed to always tease him.

Westwood already had an interesting situation on the 6th hole when an errant second shot flew the green and was caught by a fan on the fly (video of that is below), but he saved par there and kept his bogey-free round going when he reached the 12th.

Westwood's tee shot on No. 12 found the high rough and he was forced to pitch out in hopes of setting up a third shot that he could get close and save par. It looked like Westwood had done just that when he ball was in the air, but unlike the usually limp, flimsy flags atop the sticks, these wicker baskets are solid and Westwood found out the hard way.

His ball careened off the top of the basket, bouncing back towards Westwood, forcing him to hit another pitch shot that he executed poorly. His bogey putt went begging, and Westwood dropped from 3-under to 1-under with the double-bogey.

The interesting thing about the baskets is say the ball had gotten stuck in the top of one, you have to drop the ball no closer to the hole, which basically means on the lip.

It also brings up a point about what a leader might do on Sunday if he's coming down the stretch with a lead and a bunch of wedges. Pull the pin like Phil Mickelson did at Torrey Pines, even when you're 100 yards out to avoid a nasty bounce or hit shots at flags and hope you don't flag it, literally?

If nothing else, Westwood will have a lot to talk about later on at dinner.

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