Henderson takes 5-shot lead in bid for first win

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2015, 12:32 am

PORTLAND, Ore. - Brooke Henderson gave herself some breathing room in her bid for a breakthrough victory.

The 17-year-old Canadian opened a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Cambia Portland Classic, shooting a 7-under 65 at Columbia Edgewater.

''To get a good round together and try and increase my lead, and definitely just hit good shots. I'm really happy to get it to [18 under], and hopefully tomorrow just improve on that just a little bit,'' Henderson said.

She's trying to join Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only players to win an LPGA title before turning 18.

On a warm, calm day, Henderson made seven birdies in her bogey-free round. Henderson, who turns 18 in September, tied the tournament 54-hole record of 18-under 198 set by Yani Tseng in 2013. The five-stroke margin is the largest third-round LPGA lead this year.

Morgan Pressel was second after a 65.

Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ontario, also had the 54-hole lead in April in California in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. She closed with a 74 and ended up finishing third. She'll be banking on that experience Sunday.

''Saturday I wasn't feeling the nerves, and then Sunday I did. I'll just have to be aware of that tomorrow,'' Henderson said. ''It was interesting in San Francisco. I learned a lot about myself and my game, and I think I've come leaps and bounds from there early in the season.''

The Canadian won the Symetra Tour's Four Winds Invitational in June in Indiana, and tied for fifth in the Women's PGA Championship - the second of the LPGA's five majors.

A win Sunday would assure Henderson of finishing among the tour's top 40 on the money list, giving her an LPGA card for next season. Through nine LPGA tournaments, Henderson has made $466,818. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan denied Henderson's age petition last year, preventing her from playing Q-school. She earned a spot in the Portland Classic field in Monday qualifying.

Henderson is attempting to become the second Monday qualifier to win an LPGA tournament. The only player to accomplish the feat was Laurel Kean in the 2000 Rail Classic.

Had it not been for Henderson's older sister, Brittany, there's a chance none of this happens. Brittany received a sponsor exemption for the Portland Classic, and Brooke decided to take a chance on the Monday qualifier after running out of sponsor exemptions.

She was asked if she would have tried to qualify without Brittany in the field.'

''I don't know,'' Henderson said. ''I think it was a blessing in disguise that she's got the sponsor's invite and I came out here, because it is a long way to travel from home, and I'm not sure I would have made the trip.''

Henderson took a one-stroke lead over Masson into the day. After the two matched birdies at the par-4 first, Henderson increased her lead to two strokes with a birdie at the par-3 second. Masson closed within a stroke with a birdie at the par-5 fifth, and both players birdied the par-5 seventh.

Henderson pulled away on the back nine, starting with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th. Masson bogeyed the par-5 12th, giving Henderson a four-stroke lead. Even though Pressel birdied three of her final four holes, Henderson increased her lead to five strokes with birdies at the par-4 15th and par-3 16th.

On Sunday, Henderson will play alongside Pressel. The two played in Sunday's final group when Henderson had the 54-hole lead at Swinging Skirts.

''Brooke is a great player. I mean, to Monday qualify and obviously be playing this well, she knows what's at stake for her. She's a great girl, and she has a lot of potential, for sure,'' Pressel said.

Pressel, who made nine birdies during her second and third rounds, says she'll have to stomp on the gas again if she's to have a shot at catching Henderson.

''I'll take another nine birdies tomorrow,'' Pressel said. ''I need to just give myself a lot of opportunities and eliminate the sloppy mistakes that I've made the last few days.''

German players Sandra Gal (65) and Caroline Masson (70) were tied for third 12 under.

Jaye Marie Green had a 63 - the best round of the week - to move into a tie for ninth at 9 under. Ko was tied for 53rd after 2 under after a 72.

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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.