Durant birdies last hole, leads Sr. PGA by 1

By Associated PressMay 23, 2014, 12:40 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Joe Durant knows his future is on the Champions Tour. That doesn't stop him from wanting to play on the PGA Tour.

''I guess there's that part of your ego that still thinks you can play on the regular tour and you still want to prove you can do that,'' Durant said after birdieing his final hole Thursday for a 6-under 65 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Senior PGA Championship.

Making his third Champions Tour start after turning 50 on April 7, the four-time PGA Tour winner had seven birdies and a bogey at Harbor Shores.

Dan Forsman, fighting an arthritic left hip, opened with a 66, and Brad Faxon had a 67. Mark Brooks and P.H. Horgan III shot 68, and two-time Senior PGA winner Jay Haas and Colin Montgomerie were in the group at 69.

Kenny Perry, the winner last week in the Regions Tradition in Alabama, topped the group at 70 with Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, John Cook and Tom Watson.

Durant, coming off a ninth-place tie Sunday at Shoal Creek in the first major of the year, missed only one fairway and birdied all the par 5s. He also birdied the par-4 seventh hole that plays up a sand dune and usually into the wind off Lake Michigan. ''I just had a nice rhythm,'' said Durant who has played on the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour and the Champions Tour this season and plans to play the PGA Tour and Champions the rest of the year. ''I didn't try to do anything fancy. I just went from point A to point B and hit a lot of good shots. It worked out to be a nice round.''

Durant has struggled with his PGA Tour status position to get into events.

''I know my future is more out here than out there, but I would just like to play out there a little bit,'' he said. ''It doesn't get any easier out there, that's for sure.''

Forsman, a three-time winner on the Champions Tour after winning five times on the PGA Tour, had four birdies and a bogey - on the seventh - in his final nine holes.

''It's elusive,'' Forsman said of good play this year. ''It's a challenging game by any measure. Certainly the older you get, the aches and pains come along.''

Faxon made two 35-foot birdie putts early in his round. He has only one top-40 finish in eight tournaments this year and missed the cuts in his two previous Senior PGA appearances.

''There was really nothing to predict this round,'' Faxon said. ''But I'm excited about playing. My wife (Dory) came in yesterday and we were talking about just playing golf and not worrying too much about stuff. And it happened.''

Perry is trying to win his fourth consecutive Champions Tour major. He won the Senior Players Championship and U.S. Senior Open in consecutive tour starts last year, then skipped the Senior British Open. He said he is making adjustments to the greens at Harbor Shores.

''The last two weeks the greens have been pretty fast, and this week the greens are not nearly has fast on the roll out, so you've got to hit them a little bit,'' he said. ''Any time you can shoot under par in a major you've done a good job. I was very pleased with my round even though I bogeyed the last hole with an 8-iron in my hand.''

Lee Rinker, who played the PGA Tour fulltime from 1984 to 1999, was the top club pro with a 69. He's the director of golf at Emerald Dunes Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Roger Chapman, the 2012 winner at Harbor Shores, opened with a 71.

Japan's Kohki Idoki, the winner last year at Bellerive in St. Louis, had a 76.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.