Lingmerth (65) takes 1-shot lead in Quicken Loans National

By Associated PressJune 29, 2017, 11:57 pm

POTOMAC, Md. - David Lingmerth is one of a few players in the Quicken Loans National field with any memories to draw on at TPC Potomac - and they're the best kind of memories.

The winner of a 2012 Web.com Tour event on the tight, tricky layout near Washington, Lingmerth once again relied on his accuracy off the tee Thursday to shoot a 5-under 65 and take the first-round lead.

The 29-year-old Swede, who doesn't have a top 10-finish on the PGA Tour this season, hit 12 of 14 fairways, which tied for best in the field. Starting on the back nine in the afternoon, he made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch beginning at the 13th hole, three of them from inside 7 feet.

''I feel like that's kind of one of my strengths, a thing I pride myself in, hitting a lot of fairways,'' Lingmerth said. ''I like this type of golf course when you can see the definition, you can zone in on your targets. You've really got to stay committed off the tee.''

He won the 2015 Memorial Tournament for his lone PGA Tour title.

Troy Merritt, the winner two years ago at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, was a stroke back along with Marc Leishman, Johnson Wagner, Sung Kang, Nick Taylor and Daniel Summerhays.

TPC Potomac is hosting the event for the first time and has been extensively redesigned since it last welcomed the PGA Tour in 2006. It presented a stern test amid sunny, breezy conditions Thursday. Slight misses off the tee were punished severely and, as the weather heated up, even wedge shots were bouncing and releasing on the greens.


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Leishman, the big-hitting Australian who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year, welcomed the challenge.

''It's getting pretty baked, which is great. It feels a lot like Melbourne, actually,'' Leishman said. ''You can hear that real, you know, the hard sound when the ball hits the green. You've got that purplish color, especially by the end of the day. It's great. I'm enjoying it.''

On the 626-yard, par-5 second hole, Leishman's 355-yard drive left him with a decision that few players had to confront. He watched his playing partners lay up and waited for the green to clear. He pulled out a 3-wood and then put it back in the bag. He also considered laying up with a 9-iron.

Ultimately, he settled on a 3-iron that he pulled slightly into a massive bunker in front of the green. No worries, though: He blasted out to 12 feet and made the putt for birdie.

The Quicken Loans is a home game of sorts for Leishman, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He drove his own car to the Washington area Tuesday and is staying with friends. His wife, Audrey, is home with their two sons. She's also expecting their third child, due next week. Two years ago, Audrey nearly died from toxic shock syndrome.

''We were just hoping she would survive and she survived, and we were hoping she would get somewhere back to full strength and she's done that,'' Leishman said. ''Yeah, pretty exciting time for the Leishmans. Hopefully, she'll hold out until next week and we can finish this tournament and go home and be a dad for a couple weeks.''

Leishman played alongside Rickie Fowler, the top draw at a tournament that is missing most of golf's stars. Fowler was 3 over through two holes but rallied with four birdies to get back to even par after his first nine. He saved par from 8 feet on the sixth hole and 14 feet on the eighth to shoot 70.

Wagner reaped the rewards of a four-hour practice session Wednesday. At one point he was hitting mid-iron shots from the short-game area through a gap in the trees to the driving range while caddie Matt Hauser watched. They'd come up with a swing thought that was working and he wanted to hit a few more balls.

"I've just been struggling with really striking the golf ball the last few months,'' Wagner said. ''Finally we hit something that really, I could repeat in my head out there today.''

The former Virginia Tech player was back on the putting green Thursday afternoon, grinding over 75-footers. At 140th in the FedEx Cup standings, he could use a big week to lock up his PGA Tour card for next season.

''I've been in this situation a bunch,'' Wagner said, ''and I'm not overly stressed about it.''

The intensity of his practice suggested otherwise.

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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.