Blixt wins rain-delayed Greenbrier Classic

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2013, 1:12 am

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Jonas Blixt wasn't having the type of year he had envisioned – until the final round of The Greenbrier Classic came along.

The Swede shot a 3-under 67 Sunday to win the rain-delayed tournament by two strokes.

Blixt emerged from a five-player chase over the final five holes to pick up the $1.1 million winner's check. He also shot from 139th to 39th in the FedEx Cup points standings.

''This is what I play for,'' Blixt said. ''I play to win. It just confirms that if you do the right things, that you work hard, dreams can come true.''

Among the perks for his victory is a spot in next year's Masters.

Blixt also will move to around No. 50 in the next world ranking, which is used as the alternate list to fill the field for this month's British Open. That would make him the top alternate in a year that about eight players from the list will get into the Open at Muirfield.


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He overcame a four-shot deficit at the start of the final round and finished at 13-under 267. Third-round leader Johnson Wagner (73), Australians Steven Bowditch (68) and Matt Jones (68), and Jimmy Walker (71) tied for second at 11 under.

Blixt went from a tie to a two-shot lead when he made a 9-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to move to 13 under. No other player made a birdie after that. Wagner bogeyed the par-3 15th moments later to fall to 11 under alongside Bowditch and Walker.

Blixt also won the Frys.com Open last year as a tour rookie. But entering the Greenbrier Classic, he hadn't had a top-10 finish this season, missing as many cuts as he made.

Blixt was overcome with emotion after watching Wagner and Walker, needing holes-in-one at No. 18, reach the green but land well away from the hole.

''It's just been a hard year,'' Blixt said. ''My game has not been on.''

Defending champion Ted Potter Jr. (67), Pat Perez (69) and Brian Stuard (67) tied for sixth at 9 under.

Wagner, who had missed out on weekend play in his last seven tournaments, couldn't match the seven birdies he had in the third round on his way to a 64. He bogeyed three holes in a five-hole stretch on the back nine and never recovered.

The 54-hole leader has yet to win the Greenbrier Classic, now in its fourth year.

''The swing just left,'' Wagner said. ''I'm furious. But given where I was a couple of weeks ago, I'll take a lot of positives when I get over this disappointment right now.''

While Bowditch couldn't make up a five-shot deficit, he earned his first top 10 since Pebble Beach in 2011.

Play on the Old White TPC course was halted for three hours because of thunderstorms. The last group teed off at 5:10 p.m. ET and finished just after sunset. The Tour narrowly avoided going past a Sunday finish for the fourth time this year.

Many players in the Greenbrier Classic field are entered in the John Deere Classic that starts Thursday, including Walker, Blixt and Jordan Spieth.

Spieth ran off nine straight pars to start Sunday's round, then had two bogeys in a four-hole stretch. He shot 73 and finished tied for 23rd at 6 under. The 19-year-old Texan is still searching for an elusive win that would give him his PGA Tour membership and make him eligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is assured of a Tour card when the new season starts in October.

Walker joined four others after the Greenbrier Classic to earn spots in the British Open as the leading five players not already exempt from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup standings. He moved up to 17th. The others are Billy Horschel, Boo Weekley, Russell Henley and Harris English.

The Greenbrier Classic has had close finishes in every year of its four-year existence. The tournament went to playoffs the past two years and Stuart Appleby shot 59 to win by a stroke in 2010.

The tournament's end means New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton can go back to his regular job after carrying the bag of friend Ryan Palmer.

''It's a good grind, good exercise,'' Payton said. ''I thought Ryan was really patient.''

Palmer shot a 70 Sunday to finish in a tie for 59th at 1 under.

''It was a blast,'' Palmer said. ''I was more relaxed. A vacation golf tournament. I wish I could have played better.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.