Horschel (63) leads BMW Championship by 3

By Associated PressSeptember 6, 2014, 10:28 pm

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. - Billy Horschel needed less than a week to give himself a second chance. If he keeps playing this well, his next shot at closing out a tournament won't be nearly as stressful as the last one.

Horschel made a 32-foot birdie putt Saturday to close out the third round with a bogey-free, 7-under 63 and take a three-shot lead over Ryan Palmer heading into the final 18 holes of the BMW Championship.

On Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Horschel had a 6-iron in hand on the 18th fairway and a chance to win or force a playoff, but he chunked the shot, made bogey and settled for a disappointing second-place tie.

''It happened,'' said Horschel, who stands at 13-under 197. ''It's not a big deal. Just a bad swing at the wrong time. You can't dwell on things like that.''

Five days later, he gave himself a cushion, rolling in a 22 footer for birdie on 14, then an 8-foot birdie on 15 to vault into the lead. He closed it out with the long one on 18 - the uphill, par-4 477-yard closing hole that is the third toughest on the course and has surrendered only 18 birdies all week.

Horschel had one of 14 rounds of 67 or better at mile-high Cherry Hills, where soaking rains and cool weather over the last two days have softened the course and chipped away at some of its defenses. There were 15 67s or better through the first two days. The course played 1.7 shots easier Saturday than it did Thursday.


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''The greens are so much more soft than the first day,'' said Morgan Hoffman, who briefly flirted with 59 before settling for an 8-under 62. ''You can really throw it at the flags and keep it there.''

Masters champion Bubba Watson shot 66 to draw into a third-place tie at 8 under with U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, who made seven birdies over the last 12 holes to shoot 64.

''Should have been eight,'' said Kaymer, who three-putted from inside 20 feet on the par-5 17th and settled for par.

Wasn't the worst display on the greens, though.

Rory McIlroy made a 60-footer on the fourth to get into a brief tie for the lead but gave all that back and more with a four-putt from inside of 5 feet on No. 12 - bringing gasps from the crowd. It was McIlory's first triple-bogey or worse since the first hole of last year's BMW Championship.

The world's top-ranked player shot 2-over 72 and goes into Sunday nine shots off the lead.

And second-round leader Sergio Garcia also struggled. He lipped out a 4-foot par putt on No. 7 - the hole he eagled on Friday - and closed out his round with an approach shot that struck a fan in the grandstand. His 2-over 72 left him seven off the lead.

Playing in the same group with those two stars was Palmer, who shrugged it off and shot 3 under, closing with a 30-foot birdie on 18 to pull within three of Horschel.

''Rory, he's No. 1 in the world, and Sergio has been up there for years,'' Palmer said. ''So, for me to come out and hang in there and play well, I'm taking the next step in my career, I think.''

Palmer came into the week at 37th in the FedEx Cup standings and a good finish will put him in the 30-man field for next week's Tour Championship, where a $10 million bonus is at stake.

He had a share of the lead most of the day, until Horschel started going off during the last 90 minutes.

''I was watching (the scoreboard) and yelling at him from the fairway to stop, but it didn't work,'' Palmer said.

They'll play together Sunday, in the final group along with Kaymer.

On the sideline Sunday will be Phil Mickelson, who withdrew after finishing the second round 14 shots off the lead, and Keegan Bradley, who made the difficult decision to withdraw because he didn't feel right about a drop he made near the 18th green on Thursday.

''It's eating me alive,'' Bradley said.

The decision could be costly. Bradley came into the week ranked 28th, and depending on how Sunday goes, he could lose his spot in the top 30.

Right now, Horschel looks like as good a bet as any to win it. He came into the week ranked 20th.

''There were a lot more positives from last week to take than just one bad swing on the last hole,'' Horschel said. ''So, I knew coming in that I was going to play well.''

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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.