Ryder Cup and U.S. Senior Open win don't compare for Browne

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2011, 12:21 am

TOLEDO, Ohio – One of the most historic and inspirational achievements in Olin Browne’s career came when he wasn’t playing.

Browne, who won the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday, was selected by Paul Azinger as an assistant captain for the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team that beat Europe 16 1/2 -11 1/2 at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.

For Browne, just being a part of the patriotic competition was eye-opening.

“I learned how much fun it can be to be part of a winning team when you don’t have to carry the lumber,” he said. “Those guys were so good, and they played so great, and Paul set up such a great team situation, it was just a blast to be a part of it.”

Other players might not have been able to handle it, not being a player while pumping up the same adversaries you compete against every week. But Browne relished it.

“He and I had been talking about it for years leading up to it,” he said. “And I was honored and thrilled to be invited to be a part of it.”

Still, he said that victory and his one at Inverness Club on Sunday – the biggest of his career – had very little in common.

“There’s a difference between theory and reality, and when you’re dreaming about things that happen in life, that’s theory,” the introspective and thoughtful Browne said. “And then when the situation presents itself, that’s reality. And even though they’re connected somewhat, they’re not related. You know what I mean?”

NO TWO IN A ROW: Russ Cochran was still coming off the high of winning the Senior British Open when he arrived at the U.S. Senior Open.

Despite being tired, and dealing with the lingering aspects of his first major win, the left-hander from Kentucky still did quite well, thank you.

“The big thing is, I’m usually great at dismissing a tournament and getting right into another tournament,” he said. “But with family and friends and not speaking with them that much with the phone situation (a 5-hour time difference) in England, when I came back to the States it seemed like it ran into three or four days. I was still answering questions on Thursday when I was getting ready to play (here) and that was a very tough thing to do.”

He did fine, however.

Cochran matched a tournament record with five consecutive birdies while shooting a 2-under 69 in Sunday’s final round at Inverness Club. He followed rounds of 70, 69 and 73 to finish at 3-under 281.

He birdied so many in a row that he lost track while going over the details.

“How many’s that?” he asked.

Cochran said he grew tired as the week wore on, particularly when he was forced to return to the course early Saturday morning to complete his rain-delayed second round.

“My son’s 27 and in great shape and he was talking about being lethargic and his legs feeling bad and stuff,” said Cochran, referring to Ryan, who was caddieing for his dad this week. “That kind of mirrored what I was feeling.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Olin Browne, asked what it feels like to finally have his name on a major championship trophy: “You know, I’m just not sure at the moment. When I started playing golf, my bride – she wasn’t my bride then – and I would go to the driving range, a little dumpy par-3 course with a driving range called Arroyo Seco. She’d have her books out, she was pre-med and a French major and she was doing her homework. And I’d tell her, `This is the U.S. Open. What’s the shot here?’ She would say, `All right. U.S. Open, 700 yards, par 4.’ I said, `That’s not how it works. How about 440, dogleg right?’ And then I’d hit a shot. So this goes back a long way for us.”

FINE DINING: Tony Packo’s is a Toledo hot dog restaurant made famous by favorite son Jamie Farr, who played Cpl. Max Klinger on TV’s “M*A*S*H”. Klinger, faraway in the Korean war, constantly pined for Packo’s hot dogs from back home.

The joint’s feature item might have fueled one of the day’s best rounds at the U.S. Senior Open.

Steve Pate shot a 68 that left him at 277. He credited a Toledo staple for his strong showing.

“I think two double-dogs down at Packo’s were a big help today,” he cracked.

BUSY MAN: Damon Green has a full schedule.

After shooting a 1-under 70 in Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Senior Open, the Florida pro said he had a long couple of weeks ahead – but mostly because he’s the caddie for PGA Tour pro Zach Johnson.

“I fly into Cedar Rapids (Iowa) at 8, play in Zach’s pro-am for his charity, jump on a plane and we all fly to Akron” where Johnson will play in this week’s Bridgestone Invitational, Green said. “Caddie Akron, caddie Atlanta (where the PGA Championship will be played the following week), then I think I have my first full week at home since May.

“I’m kind of looking forward to that. I’m a little worn out.”

Green shot rounds of 67, 71, 70 and 70 – to tie for 13th and a 6-under 278 total.

DIVOTS: Browne became just the second player in tournament history to go wire-to-wire, joining Dale Douglass (1986 at Scioto Country Club). … Browne had finished tied for third (last year at Sahalee CC) and tied for 10th (2009 at Crooked Stick) in his two previous Senior Open appearances. … Browne’s victory made it 21 times in the 32 U.S. Senior Opens that the third-round leader has gone on to win. … The lowest score over the final 36 holes was by 66-year-old Hale Irwin (66-68). … Irwin finished in a tie for fourth, marking the record 204th time he has done so in his Champions Tour career. He broke a tie at 203 with Bob Charles. … Irwin also has 32 top-10 finishes in majors, two more than Jack Nicklaus had in his career.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.