Leishman's early 62 stands up for win

By Associated PressJune 24, 2012, 10:18 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Marc Leishman shot an early 8-under 62 and won the Travelers Championship for his first PGA Tour title Sunday when Charley Hoffman blew a two-stroke lead.

The 28-year-old Australian began the day six strokes behind the leaders, but made eight birdies and no bogeys, then sat in the clubhouse for over two hours and watched. He finished at 14-under 266.

Hoffman was 16 under heading to the 17th hole, but pushed his tee shot right and into the water. He made a double bogey, and bogeyed the 18th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

Hoffman closed with a 66 to tie for second with Masters champion Bubba Watson, who shot a 65.

Leishman became the fifth player in seven years to break through with their first tour win at River Highlands, joining Fredrik Jacobson last year, Watson in 2010, Hunter Mahan in 2007 and J.J. Henry in 2006.

Leishman's 62 was the lowest score in a final round by a champion on tour this season.

''I didn't think it was going to be enough,'' he said. ''Golf is a funny game, a really funny game.''

Hoffman seemed to be in command standing on the 17th tee, and still had a chance to win on 18.

He put his tee shot onto a hill to the right and he put his second shot into the bunker. He ran that shot long and missed a 17-foot par putt.

''When it's said and done, obviously a bad finish and a bad taste in my mouth, but you learn from it,'' he said. ''Any time you put yourself in contention, you learn from that.''

Watson made a run at the lead on the front nine, with four birdies. But he had to scramble on the back nine, saving par on the 15th after putting his tee shot in the water. He also made par on 17 after hitting his second shot over the water and onto the green from the rough.

''Just didn't finish it off on the back,'' he said. ''I made my run and just didn't kind of really have anything after that.''

''I was just trying to give myself as many chances as I could,'' he said. ''It was nice to have a couple of tap-in birdies.''

Leishman's win gave him just his second top-10 finish this season. He didn't play in Memphis or at the U.S. Open and said he came back after two weeks off refreshed.

''I practiced I think two times in the three weeks,'' he said. ''It's been close for a while actually. I just get a little bit streaky with the putter, and I haven't been lately.''

Roland Thatcher, who was tied for the lead after three rounds, began his day with three bogeys on the first six holes. He seemed like an afterthought, until Hoffman's collapse. But he made an eagle on the par-5 13th after hitting his second shot within 15 feet of the pin.

He came up 18 with a chance to force a playoff, but put his second shot into a greenside bunker.

''You never want to take the lead going into Sunday and then need two birdies on the last two holes to catch up,'' he said.

He and fellow co-leader Brian Davis both shot 70, putting them in a group at 12 under with Tim Clark and John Rollins.

Clark, who won the 2010 Players Championship, had elbow surgery last August and had missed the cut in five of the previous nine tournaments he played this season.

The course record at River Highlands is 60, set last year by Patrick Cantlay as an amateur. The 20-year-old missed the cut this year in his first professional tournament.

Rory Sabbatini finished six shots behind the leader, but took home a gold Rolex after making the first hole-in-one of his tour career. His shot on the 161-foot 16th hole hit and spun left into the hole.

''It felt really good coming off the club,'' he said. ''It was just a question of having the right yardage. I kind of joked in the middle of the ball flight, and I said, 'Be the right one and go in the hole.'''

Hunter Mahan shot a career-low 61 and tied for 11th after he came within a stroke of missing the 54-hole cut.

Mahan, in the first pair of the day, joked that he was just trying to play fast and not hold up the field. He opened with five pars before making nine birdies on the final 13 holes.

He missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. His 20-foot birdie putt from the edge of the green on 18 put him at 10-under 270 for the tournament.

''Your adrenaline is pumping more than you are nervous, because nothing really bad can happen,'' he said. ''I was just trying to hit it close and make a putt.''

Mahan, whose first tour win came here in 2007, needed a 6-foot birdie on 18 Saturday to make the 54-hole cut.

''At that point, you're kind of like, God, do I want to even make this?'' he said. ''I'm glad I did.''

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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.