Pettersson leads Knost by one at Heritage

By Associated PressApril 14, 2012, 10:13 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Carl Pettersson couldn't have had a better time with Colt Knost at the RBC Heritage. He hopes to have as much fun when the two play again on Sunday.

Pettersson had a run of five straight birdies on the front nine and finished with a birdie on the 18th hole for a 66 and a one-stroke lead over Knost heading into the final round of the RBC Heritage on Saturday.

Pettersson and Knost chatted and laughed throughout the round, looking more like a pair of duffers at the local muni out for a weekend round rather than pro golfers chasing a PGA Tour title.

''Two fat guys played in three hours, 48 minutes,'' Pettersson said with a smile. ''That was pretty good. But we had a good time.''

Especially Pettersson, who used his birdie streak to overtake a nervous Knost and build a three-shot lead through 10 holes. Knost tamed the butterflies enough to find the game that had him in the lead here after Thursday and Friday, tying for the top after Pettersson's bogey on the par-5 15th hole.

Pettersson moved in front at the end with a stunning approach that slid by the cup on No. 18 for a closing birdie. The two will match up once again in the final pairing Sunday.

''I'm going to try tomorrow to have fun,'' said Knost, seeking his first win on the PGA Tour.

Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters winner, shot a 66 to move to third at 8 under, three behind the leaders. Two-time RBC Heritage champion Boo Weekley had a 70 and was in fourth another shot behind. Defending champ Brandt Snedeker (69), Kevin Na (70) and Robert Garrigus (70) were next at 6 under.

World No. 1 Luke Donald failed to make a move toward keeping the top spot, his even-par 71 leaving him at 2 over and tied for 52nd. Donald needs to finish eighth or better to fend off No. 2 Rory McIlroy, who like Masters champion Bubba Watson and most other top golfers, was taking the week off.

Knost's roller coaster of a round included a 190-yard drive off No. 1 to take bogey followed by an eagle on No. 2. And there were plenty of missed fairways on the tight holes of Harbour Town Golf Links. Still, he kept close enough with a 69.

''I could have got rattled pretty easy after that start,'' Knost said. ''But like I said, I'm really proud of the way I hung in.''

Pettersson threatened to turn the tournament into a runaway with his early birdie streak. Knost would not let that happen, overcoming some unsteady play to keep close to his playing partner.

It sure wasn't easy for Knost.

He came to the first tee with a two-stroke lead, then knocked his opening tee shot into some pine straw right of the fairway and took bogey. He followed that by rolling in a 48-foot eagle putt from the left fringe on No. 2 and flashed a wide smile that even had Pettersson grinning.

Knost's up-and-down ride continued through the front nine. There was the lipout on No. 3 for bogey, the layup and chip to 10 feet on the par-5 fifth for birdie, and solid par saves from the bunker on No. 7 and from some more pine straw on No. 8.

Then on the ninth after another wayward drive, Knost punched it to 10 feet and made the birdie to stay one behind Pettersson.

Things swung Pettersson's way once more on the 10th, his lead growing to three shots after he made birdie and Knost was short on his approach and missed an 8-foot attempt at par.

Still, Knost kept grinding. A birdie on the 13th hole drew Knost with a stroke and the pair was tied at the top at 11 under when Pettersson took bogey on the par-5 15th hole.

The two matched pars until the windswept 18th when Pettersson struck a stunning approach that slid by the cup and settled 8 feet past. He rolled in the putt with a smile on his face.

''I managed to birdie the 18th, which was nice,'' Pettersson said.

Johnson put together his second straight sub-70 round to move into third. He has largely struggled at Harbour Town, his best showing a tie for sixth the week after he slipped on the green jacket five years ago. Johnson's round took flight with an eagle on No. 5. He closed with birdies on the 16th and 18th as he looks for his first victory since the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in 2010.

''We've still got 18 holes,'' Johnson said. ''The last four or five holes, if I'm near the lead, we can get after it a little bit.''

Donald, starting almost five hours before the leaders, never got things going. Without an absolute miracle he will fall from No. 1 after he finishes Sunday, surrendering the top spot to McIlroy, who is off spending time with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki as she competes in Denmark, according to the tennis star's tweets. Donald took the top spot from McIlroy last month.

Whose got the edge over Harbour Town?

Pettersson, 34, has won four times on tour while Knost, an amateur star who's struggled at this level, acknowledged his nervousness getting ready. ''I don't know,'' Pettersson said. ''I've only won four times out here, so it's not like ... I'm not Phil or Tiger or anybody.''

Knost planned to spend some time on the range after his round working on his tee shots. ''I got a chance going into tomorrow and I'm excited,'' he said.






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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.