Moore, Na co-lead CIMB through 54

By Associated PressNovember 1, 2014, 4:28 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Defending champion Ryan Moore will draw on the experience of last year's narrow victory when he enters the final round of the CIMB Classic on Sunday tied for the lead with Kevin Na.

Both Americans shot rounds of 5-under 67 on Saturday. Moore had seven birdies against two bogeys while Na had a bogey-free round with five birdies to move to 12-under 204 in the jointly sanctioned PGA Tour and Asian Tour event at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

They were a shot clear of the field's top-ranked player Sergio Garcia, who repeatedly scrambled from difficult situations to salvage pars on the back nine and finished with a round of 68.

Garcia was level on 11-under with second-round leader Billy Hurley III who had a 71 on a day that included a 2-1/2 hour rain delay.

They had a two-shot break on the next group of four players at 9-under: American trio Gary Woodland (66) - last year's runner-up - Kevin Chappell (70) and Kevin Streelman (71) plus South Korea's Sang-moon Bae (68).

Moore said last year's playoff victory over Woodland gave him the belief that he can do it again Sunday and become the first player to defend a PGA Tour title since Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2012 and 2013.

''It can only be a positive,'' Moore said. ''I've been here and done it on this course, so that should give me that little extra confidence going into tomorrow.''

Na has one previous PGA Tour title win, at the Shriners' International Hospitals for Children Open in 2011. He pulled out of that same event last month due to illness and a back injury, but has shown no sign of discomfort here.

He does have a previous tournament win in Malaysia on his resume, taking out the Volvo Masters of Asia as an 18-year-old in 2002. Na forecast that 17-under should be enough to win the tournament, but faces stiff competition in a tightly-packed field of leaders.

''Sergio, Ryan Moore, Kevin Streelman, Chappell - any of those guys can get out there and play well,'' Na said. ''You can't set yourself an opponent, you have to play the golf course.''

Neither leader has a great record at defending leads on the final day. Moore has led or been tied for the lead five times previously, converting into wins twice while missing out three times, including the Travelers Championship earlier this year.

Na has been in that situation three times before and the Shriners' was his sole victory.

Garcia has the edge on both for experience of title showdowns and kept himself in contention again with some impressive scrambling. The Spaniard repeatedly found trouble off the tee, twice having to take penalty strokes yet salvaging par.

''I'm not trying to hit shots like that but sometimes it happens,'' Garcia said. ''After the rain, the greens were much slower, and I three-putted on 11 for bogey and then I made some nice saves.''

The round of the day belonged to Brendon De Jonge, who had a 7-under 65 to move within four shots of the lead. The Zimbabwean lost the playoff at last week's McGladrey Classic.

Former top-ranked Lee Westwood was hurt most by the rain delay. He was in contention at 9-under when the course was cleared for a thunderstorm, but had four bogeys in eight holes after the resumption.

Each of the first three days have had long delays due to storms, and more are expected Sunday, with a potentially critical effect on the title contenders.

''It's tough on all of us, starting and stopping,'' Moore said. ''It's like another round of golf. You are starting again and you don't have that rhythm and momentum of your round.''

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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.