Perry shares U.S. Senior Open lead in quest for second senior major

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2013, 2:00 am

OMAHA, Neb. – It's never been so crowded at the top of the U.S. Senior Open leaderboard.

When Tom Lehman chipped in from 45 feet on the 18th hole Thursday, he joined six others at 3-under 67 for the first round at the Omaha Country Club.

There had never been as many as seven co-leaders after the opening round of the event. The previous record was five in 1997.

''In one round, 18 holes, it's like a sprint,'' Lehman said. ''Over the course of four rounds, which is more like a marathon, things really do spread out. The field will thin out.''

Kenny Perry shot a 67 in the morning, putting together a solid start in his bid for a second straight win in a senior major. Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake also were 3 under after their morning rounds, and Gary Hallberg, Mark O'Meara, Fred Funk and Lehman came in with the same score in the afternoon.


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The hilly 6,700-yard course took a toll on the field of golfers age 50 and older, especially in the afternoon as temperatures reached the upper 80s with a light breeze. The small and undulating greens browned up in the heat and proved dicey.

''When you get tough conditions and you're playing good, you get rewarded,'' Funk said. ''More than likely, the guy that's playing the best in these kind of conditions will be at the top. Hopefully, it will be me.''

Perry, who won the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago at Fox Chapel, Pa., made five birdies against two bogeys.

The season points leader started on the back nine and had birdies on three of his first eight holes. He hit an 8-iron to within 10 feet on the par-3 11th, drove the green on the 312-yard, par-4 13th, and hit hybrid-pitching wedge on the 319-yard, par-4 17th and made his 15-foot putt.

He birdied both par-5s on his second nine, but came away a bit disappointed after missing a 5-foot eagle putt on No. 6.

''I took care of the par 5s today and drove it nicely, kept it in the fairway, kept it in play,'' Perry said. ''Like I said yesterday, if I hit it in the fairway, I really like my chances on this golf course.''

Lehman, the 2012 Champions Tour points and money leader, overcame a bogey on No. 8 with three birdies on the back nine – none bigger than the one on 18.

His second shot came to rest in thick grass to the right of the green. He used an 8-iron for his chip and watched it roll downhill slowly into the cup for what ranked as the shot of the day.

''The lie was a little bit squirrely,'' Lehman said. ''The grass was growing against the ball so it's easy to kind of not catch it cleanly. I took less loft and kind of hit it a little bit thin. Once it gets out on the green, it's going to get down there.''

Chien Soon Lu, Peter Senior, Rocco Mediate and 2010 champion Bernhard Langer shots 68s. Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month and is playing in his second senior event, was in a pack that was two shots behind.

Defending champion Roger Chapman struggled with his putter and was seven shots behind after a 74.

Tom Watson, who played with Langer and Montgomerie and drew the largest galleries of the day, struggled with his irons while shooting a 70 that included one birdie and one bogey.

''I hit a few good shots today, but for the most part, my shots weren't very solid,'' Watson said. ''One good thing about it was that I got about the best score I possibly could out of my round.''

Fred Couples, coming off three straight runner-up finishes on the Champions Tour, had a 1-over 71.

Couples, like others, had difficulty figuring out the speed of the greens. The recent heat wave has put stress on them, and warmer temperatures are forecast this weekend.

''They're suffering,'' Lehman said. ''And there's differing kinds of grass. That's probably the biggest thing. It's not 100 percent pure. So the heat affects them each differently, which is why you see that spotty stuff. That kind of makes the putts really not quite as true as you would hope for.''


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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.