Langer takes big lead into final day of U.S. Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2012, 9:41 pm

LAKE ORION, Mich. - Fred Couples joked that someone will have to close with a 60 to catch Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open.

That might not be low enough.

Langer shot a 6-under 64 on Saturday to move to 10 under for the tournament, putting him ahead of a big-name field by four strokes.

''That's not a huge lead,'' he insisted. ''That can disappear in no time. I'm going to have to get out there and shoot under par. That's my goal.

''If I go 2 under or 3 under, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch me. And if they do, they deserve to win.''

The two-time Masters champion opened with three straight birdies and eight in 12 holes at Indianwood, a course with tight and unforgiving fairways and undulating greens.

''He didn't win two Masters by luck,'' said Corey Pavin, who was in a five-way tie for second place. ''He's an exceptionally good player, very methodical.''

Langer didn't miss a green in regulation during the third round until the par-3 No. 13, where a double bogey cut his cushion to three shots. He bounced back with a birdie at 15 before giving that stroke back with a bogey at 18.

Pavin, Tom Lehman, Roger Chapman, John Huston and Tom Pernice Jr. were at 6-under 204.

Couples surged up the leaderboard with a 65 after starting the day tied for 25th place. He was part of a pack - along with Fred Funk and Jay Haas - that was five shots back in a tie for seventh at the Champion Tour's fourth of five majors.

What did Couples think it would take to get into contention with Langer in the final round?

''Sixty,'' he said. ''How does that sound? Does that sound pretty good? Not really realistic.

''He's not going to come back. Corey and whoever is going to have to play a remarkable round to win. I'm at least inching closer.''

While Langer was in his sensational stretch Saturday, first-round leader Tom Kite and second-round leader Lance Ten Broeck were struggling in the final group.

Kite finished with a 74 to drop into a tie for 17th, nine shots back. Since opening with a U.S. Senior Open nine-hole record 28, Kite is 6 over.

Ten Broeck, a full-time caddie for Tim Herron and occasional player, shot a 72 with three birdies and five bogeys. He is alone in 11th place, six shots back, after starting the round with a one-shot lead over Kite and a two-stroke edge on a group that included Langer.

Pavin was tied with Langer coming in and finished the third round four shots back, insisting he only thought about a two-stroke penalty from Thursday when a reporter asked about it. After pulling into a first-round tie for the lead, Pavin was docked two shots for hitting a ball that moved a fraction of an inch when he grounded his club to prepare for a chip.

Couples, who said that his chronic back problems have kept him from ever practicing for a Champions Tour event, got into contention by driving the green at the 360-yard, par-4 No. 9 and posting an eagle from 105 yards on the next hole that created a buzz on the course.

''You know it's going to be close when they start to ooh and aah,'' he said. ''As it went closer, they threw their hands up. Yeah, it's a great feeling. You don't make many eagles, especially from the fairway.''

Langer scored with his flat stick, making a pair of 20-foot-plus putts for birdies on the first two holes while building confidence on a course set up to be a tough test for the best 50-and-older golfers in the world.

The 54-year-old German has nine top-10 finishes in his 11 previous Champion Tour events this season, including three runner-up showings, and is shooting for his first win since needing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb last year.

Langer sounds as if he's back to being the golfer that led the senior circuit money list from 2008-2010 - each of his first three seasons on the Champion Tour - before slipping to 25 last year because of a surgery-stunted season.

''Without being big headed, I think I'm one of the better players out here the last three or four years,'' he said. ''I've won the Schwab Cup. If you do that, you've got to play well. If you can win normal tournaments and be in the top five or top 10 on a regular basis, you ought to be doing fairly well in the majors too because the majors are even harder.

''The better players, I think, will separate themselves even more from the average player in the majors because conditions are usually tougher.

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.