DJ leads by 1 after 65 at Colonial

By Associated PressMay 22, 2014, 11:43 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Dustin Johnson had played Colonial only once before, six years ago when he didn't even make it to the final round.

In his return to Hogan's Alley, Johnson took a one-stroke lead after the first round.

Johnson shot a bogey-free 5-under 65 on Thursday, driving a lot of 3-irons off the tees into the fairways and hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

''I've got to keep doing what I'm doing,'' Johnson said. ''I've got a pretty good game plan for the golf course off the tee. So I'm going to stick to that, just trying to keep getting birdie looks on every hole.''

His only birdie on the back nine was a 2-footer at the 177-yard 16th hole. That was enough to lead after his front-side 31 that included a 45-foot birdie putt on the difficult par-4 fifth hole.


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Hunter Mahan, playing in the group ahead of Johnson, led before a double-bogey 6 at the 433-yard 18th hole for a 66. He was tied for second with Harris English, Tim Wilkinson and Robert Streb.

Jimmy Walker, a three-time winner this season, and 20-year-old Dallas native Jordan Spieth were in the group of 10 players at 67.

Mahan started eagle-birdie and was already 6 under after a 3-foot birdie on the 178-yard eighth hole. He had two bogeys and two more birdies before his drive at the 18th hole into the right rough, with trees blocking a clear shot to the green. After punching the ball back into the fairway, his approach came settled on the edge of the fringe and he eventually two-putted from 7 feet.

''You have to get over it,'' Mahan said about the disappointing 18th. ''It's all about the drive there.''

Adam Scott, playing as the No. 1 player in the world for the first time, shot 71 after playing his first nine holes at 4-over 39.

Scott had bogey-6 on the straight 631-yard 11th hole, his second of the day, when he hit twice from fairway bunkers. After a two-putt from 11 feet at the 433-yard 18th hole, Scott was bogey-free the rest of the way, with consecutive short birdies after making the turn.

''I thought I actually hit plenty of good shots,'' Scott said. ''All of a sudden, I had the momentum going the way I wanted and managed to hang on for the next few holes.''

The Australian said he felt the same as he did before this week when he overtook injured Tiger Woods for the top spot in the world ranking.

''There's not a big difference,'' Scott said. ''It's always the first tee nerves of starting a tournament out, but I certainly didn't feel that much different.''

Johnson's 65 was the highest score to lead after the first round at Hogan's Alley since another 65 in 2002. There were opening 62s in two of the previous three Colonials.

When he first played at Colonial in 2008, Johnson made the initial cut. But after a 72 in the third round, he was among six more players trimmed to reduce the field to 73 for the final day.

Walker, the FedEx Cup points leader, also played a bogey-free round with a tremendous par-saver at the 470-yard fifth hole after hitting his drive left into the rough under trees. With the ball on a hill several inches below his feet, he hit an off-balance shot to the left of the green. He then chipped up over the bunker, and the ball rolled to inside 4 feet of the cup.

''I kind of had a shot, and I went for it,' he said. ''I had a big high cut over the trees, and didn't hit a very good shot, but it came up just short of the green, and made a great up and down there.''

Matt Kuchar, ranked No. 4 in the world and with a chance to move to the top with a victory, had birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 early in his round. He then had five bogeys before finally getting his only other birdie on his 16th hole, an 11-foot putt on the 437-yard seventh hole, in a 72. That matched his highest score in his 29 career rounds at Colonial, where he finished second last year.

Rickie Fowler, who stars in a series of funny commercials for tournament sponsor Crowne Plaza, played with flu-like symptoms and had two triple bogeys in an 80, the worst score in the 123-player invitational field.

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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.