Perry hoping to turn around game on Champions Tour

By Associated PressOctober 22, 2010, 2:01 am

Champions Tour

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Kenny Perry had a bad feeling when his putter fell apart in his first PGA Tour event of the year, the SBS Championships in Hawaii.

No, not his putting stroke fell apart. His actual putter went to pieces.

Perry was hitting his final practice putt before teeing off at Kapalua when the putter head fell right off the shaft. His favorite one, too.

Perry turned to his son who was caddying and said, “Justin, it’s going to be a bad year.”

The 14-time winner on the PGA Tour turned 50 on Aug. 10, making him eligible for the Champions Tour, and he’ll make his debut Friday at the Administaff Small Business Classic – hoping that the new scenery will help him rejuvenate his game.

“I’ve had a smile on my face this week,” said Perry, who has played on two Ryder Cup teams and three President’s Cup teams. “It’s neat to get back with the guys you played with in your junior years. They’ve been calling me rookie all week. I have a hard time getting used to that. It’s hard to believe I’m 50.”

Perry missed the cut in three of the last five PGA Tour events he played, then spent six weeks off to rest and prepare for the senior circuit.

“It seems I went flat this year,” Perry said. “In all the years I was on the tour I felt like I needed to win. I didn’t feel like I needed to win this year. It was just a letdown. We’re going to rekindle the fire this off season and see what happens.”

Perry already is feeling better after taking time off.

“It’s been a neat two days since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’ve had all the guys coming up and welcoming me to this tour – Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw. It’s the who’s who of golf. All these guys I’ve looked up to my whole career and who made me the player I am and they’re all here playing.”

Perry was a member of the 2008 Ryder Cup team and had a good year in 2009 with victories at the FBR Open and the Travelers Championship. He tied for second in the Masters and fourth at the Tour Championship, before everything suddenly unraveled.

“I’d kind of gotten burned out,” he said. “I threw everything I have at the ’08 Ryder Cup and it seemed from then on I’ve lost focus. … I had a good 2009 but this year has seemed to be just a mediocre year. I didn’t have goals. I was just plodding along.”

Perry said equipment problems contributed to his poor 2010 season, starting with the demise of his beloved putter.

“It’s been magic for me the last three years,” Perry said. “It all started right there at Kapalua. I went into a funk putting this year. I re-shafted that putter four times, sent it back to Ping and it never looked the same again.”

Perry said he has changed every club in his bag except his 3-wood.

“It threw me for a little bit of adjustment, trying to figure what I can use and what I can’t and I never got comfortable with anything this year,” Perry said. “I didn’t drive the ball, I didn’t hit my irons well, so it was a new learning curve for me.”

With all his hard luck this year, Perry likes what his Champions Tour friends are saying.

“Their advice to me was that you’re going to have fun,” Perry said. “It’s totally different from the PGA Tour. I feel that. They’re relaxed and laid back and having a good time. I’ve been on the tour for 25 years and it’s a welcomed relief.”

Steve Lowery also is playing in his first Champions Tour event. A victory by either newcomer would mark the 16th time a rookie won his first event. Tom Pernice Jr. last accomplished the feat when he won the 2009 SAS Championship.

John Cook edged Jay Haas by one shot to win the Administaff event last year, when he sank a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to take the lead for good. Bernhard Langer, the Charles Schwab points leader, and second-place Fred Couples are also playing this week.

Perry has four exempt years remaining on the PGA Tour, but his focus is only on this week.

“You’ll probably see me splitting time,” Perry said. “If I keep having a lot of fun like I’m having this week, I might branch on over this way more.”

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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.