Nicklaus wants to lengthen, strengthen 18th hole

By Associated PressJune 1, 2013, 12:44 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – Jack Nicklaus didn't do anything significant to the golf course at Muirfield Village because all the time (and money) went into the new clubhouse.

His next project inside the ropes appears to be the 18th hole.

Nicklaus thinks it needs to be stronger, and thus slightly longer.

''Every time I look on television, I look down and see all those bunkers along 18 and I don't think it's a pretty look,'' Nicklaus said, referring to right side of the landing area beyond a walnut tree. ''It looks like something I had to do to protect the hole. All the other holes on the golf course are basically played the way they were designed. Eighteen is the only hole where they are able to circumvent the design. They take it over the corner and get it out there.

''To me, the finishing hole needs to be stronger.''

Nicklaus, the founder and host of The Memorial Tournament and Muirfield's architect, is thinking about adding 30 yards or more to the tee, which would require moving some dirt to fill in part of a creek behind it. But it can be done.

Just maybe not for a few years.

''I think we will eventually, he said.

WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN: There were three suspensions of play because of dangerous weather and thunderstorms in Friday's second round of the Memorial Tournament. The first lasted 22 minutes, the second 1 hour, 27 minutes and the third ended play at 7:07 p.m. with 42 players still on the course.

It marked the first time since 2001 that a round had been interrupted as many as three times at the Memorial.

Play will resume at 7:30 a.m. with players completing the second round before pairings are drawn up and the third round begins.

DUKE'S DEUCE: In an otherwise normal day, Ken Duke summoned some magic.

The 18th is one of the most difficult holes on the tour. Duke arrived there after teeing off first at the 10th hole. He was 2 over on the day and headed nowhere.

He banged a 320-yard drive through the fairway and into the left rough. From there he had to muscle an iron shot out of heavy rough. He did fine.

Duke's shot landed pin high and rolled to the back of the canted green before reversing direction, picking up speed, hitting the pin and falling into the cup.

The eagle allowed him to stay right on the cut line. He was even through 12 holes on the day when play was suspended and stood at 3 over.

CALLING SECURITY: Fred Couples was just about to hit his drive on the second tee during Friday's second round when a cell phone went off in the gallery.

The phone rang again. Security officials scrambled around, looking for the offending party.

Then a woman's automated voice could be heard saying, ''Please leave a message.''

Finally, a marshal turned to one of the volunteers in sky-blue shirts who are charged with preventing spectators from taking pictures or calls with their cell phones.

''Is that one of yours?'' the marshal said.

The cell-phone volunteer sheepishly unzipped a fanny pack and pulled out the phone, which had been confiscated from a fan.

A nearby spectator laughed and said, ''Throw him out!''

BLEAK BEGINNINGS: Brandt Snedeker has gotten off to a rapid start on the PGA Tour this year, winning at Pebble Beach and finishing in a tie for second at Torrey Pines. He's second on the money list behind Tiger Woods, with more than $3.3 million in earnings.

But the way he started his round on Friday won't go into his book of memories.

Teeing off on hole No. 10, Snedeker was 1 over for his first four holes and then went triple bogey, bogey, double bogey to get to 7 over on his round through seven holes.

Fortunately for him, he was able to regroup by playing the next eight holes in 1 under, but that still wasn't enough to overcome the miserable start.

DIVOTS: Nick Faldo sat down in the grill room and asked for a lemonade. The waiter came back and regretfully informed the CBS analyst and six-time major champion that they were out of the lemonade. ''Call Jack,'' Faldo said sarcastically. The waiter stared at him. ''Call Jack,'' Faldo repeated, his grin slightly more evident. Didn't work. The kid didn't understand the English accent. ''I don't think we have coljack,'' the waiter said. After all that, he found the lemonade. ... The slump for Geoff Ogilvy continues. He missed the cut for the fourth time in his last five tournaments, adding to a stretch earlier this year when Ogilvy missed four straight cuts. The '06 U.S. Open champion has missed eight cuts this year, the most since he missed 10 cuts in 2003. ... 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang had bogeys on six of his first nine holes in a 79 that caused him to miss the cut. ... Players on the main scoreboard in the media center had their national flag next to their name. Branden Grace, from South Africa, had an American flag next to his.

AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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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.