Montgomerie leads U.S. Senior Open Round 1

By Associated PressJuly 11, 2014, 2:55 am

EDMOND, Okla. - Colin Montgomerie declared Bernhard Langer the favorite heading into the U.S. Senior Open.

After 18 holes, Montgomerie may well have seized that position himself with a 6-under 65 to lead at the end of Thursday at Oak Tree National.

The Scotsman started on No. 10 and birdied Nos. 14, 15 and 16 on the way to a 33 on the back nine. He birdied six, seven and eight to finish strong in oppressive heat and humidity.

''That was the key to the round, the three birdies in a row on the front nine, my back nine,'' Montgomerie said. ''To birdie six, seven, eight was good. That got me to the position I am now.''

Marco Dawson was second after a 66, and Mark Brooks was third after shooting 68. Langer was one of five golfers tied for fourth with a 69.

Dawson, in his first Senior Open, started on the back nine and shot 2 under, then was steady on the front nine before scoring birdies on seven, eight and nine. The 50-year-old said it was one of the two best rounds he's played in his six Champions Tour events. He was pleased with the performance, especially considering the course's challenging reputation.

''It just seemed to happen, you know, birdie, birdie, birdie the last three holes, so I ended up 5 under,'' he said. ''I could have shot 2 under and still would have been a good round.''

Brooks birdied the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes to go 4 under on his first five holes. He shot 3 under on the back nine and even on the front nine.

''I've been playing here since high school,'' he said. ''I'm comfortable here. My mother and father both are Oklahomans, so I got a lot of Oklahoma blood in me.''

Langer, who entered the Senior Open having already won three events this year, was in a five-way tie for fourth along with Vijay Singh, Kirk Triplett, Scott Dunlap and Gene Sauers.

''They say you don't win a tournament on the first day,'' Langer said. ''You can certainly lose it with a bad round, so, you know, I'm somewhere in the top 10 or top 20 after today, which is a good spot to be. Still have three rounds to go.''

Kenny Perry, last year's Senior Open winner, shot a 75.

Mother Nature was a factor for various reasons.

Play was delayed for 77 minutes at the start because of the threat of lightning, and play was suspended because of darkness at 8:54 p.m. CDT, with three players still on the course.

Wilting 90-plus degree heat with humidity hit in the afternoon. Darrell Kestner completed 14 holes Thursday before withdrawing and being treated for a heat-related issue.

Peter Jacobsen, who withdrew from last year's Senior Open in Omaha after nine holes because of dehydration, made it through the opening day in Edmond. He shot a 1-under 70, then held a sports drink as he answered questions.

''I learned a really good lesson,'' he said. ''My doctor told me, 'Don't ever get dehydrated because it's very debilitating on your body.' I walk around with water and Gatorade and lot of liquid, especially here when we know it's going to be humid and hot.''

Heavy rains Wednesday softened the course, but the heat Thursday made it hard later in the day. Changing winds added another degree of difficulty to an already long, tough course.

''It is kind of difficult to judge the wind out here,'' Montgomerie said. ''You're always going to get breeze out here in Oklahoma. That's part of the test out here.''

Weather is expected to remain a factor through the rest of the tournament, with temperatures expected to soar. Montgomerie said it will amount to a physical examination.

''It's going to be grueling over the next three days,'' he said. ''Concentration levels will be difficult to maintain for everybody out there, not just myself. I look forward to the challenge of trying to compete against the rest of the field, the golf course, which is superb, and also the weather conditions, which are very foreign to myself and most competitors, to be honest. We don't usually play in 100 degrees. It's going to be interesting over the next three days.''

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.