Walker 18 holes from winning hometown event

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2015, 10:35 pm

SAN ANTONIO - Jimmy Walker opened a four-stroke lead over fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, shooting a 3-under 69 on Saturday in his hometown Texas Open.

Walker, who lives 35 minutes away from TPC San Antonio, is looking for his fifth title in two tour seasons. He had a 9-under 207 total after opening with rounds of 71 and 67.

''It's a tough golf course,'' said Walker, the winner of the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. ''I thought coming into today that even par or maybe 1 under would be a good score. You definitely want to find a way to extend the lead, but you have to be smart about it.''

Spieth shot a 71. The 21-year-old Dallas player, coming off a playoff victory two weeks ago at Innisbrook, had a double bogey, two bogeys and two birdies on the final six holes.

''It's not ideal - I really look for more consistency,'' Spieth said.

FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel birdied the final three holes for a 69 to get to 3 under.

''I wanted to give myself some opportunities coming in,'' Horschel said. ''It was a nice one to get at 16 - it was blowing downwind and that green has been pretty firm all week. And they had the tees moved up at 17 and 18, just straight downwind today.''

Five players were seven back of Walker at 2 under. Zach Johnson birdied the last two holes for a 72, Chesson Hadley had a 71, tour rookie Scott Pinckney shot 69, 2011 champion Brendan Steele had a 72, and Jason Kokrak finished with a 71.

Phil Mickelson was even par after a 74. He had a near double-eagle on the 14th hole.

Tied making the turn, Walker broke away from Spieth with a two-shot swing on the par-5 14th and extended when Spieth hit his tee shot at the par-3 16th into more trouble well right of the grandstand.


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Both players have long-established roots in Texas. Spieth played on the Texas Longhorns' national champion team in 2012, and Walker was an All-American at Baylor.

''Jordan and I played the first two days out here and we had a lot of people,'' Walker said. ''We'll probably have even more people tomorrow. It should be fun.''

Playing in the group ahead at No. 14, Spieth left a long bunker shot in the sand and failed to make a 13-footer once he got on the green.

Walker planted a wedge shot a foot away from the cup and made birdie.

Spieth got a shot back with an 8-foot birdie putt at 15, then hit a tee shot on the 191-yard 16th that ended up about 40 yards right of the green. He took two chips and lipped out a 4-footer en route to a double bogey.

''I'm going to have to hit the ball better than I did today,'' Spieth said. ''A couple of tough breaks on the back nine. All in all, I was playing a really solid round of golf, minus a couple of decisions and a couple of swings.''

Spieth bounced back to birdie the short par-4 17th.

Walker also birdied 17 after hitting a short pitch to 7 feet away. He capped his round with a 9-foot birdie putt on 18.

Mickelson had all sorts of short-game troubles while shooting a front-nine 40.

That included two shots from the fringe leading to a double bogey at No. 4, taking four shots to find the hole and bogeying after driving into a greenside bunker at the short par-4 fifth, missing a 3-foot par putt at the seventh and missing a green in regulation while blasting from a greenside bunker at the par-5 eighth.

He also missed birdie putts of 8 feet at Nos. 2 and 6.

He nearly holed out for double-eagle from 258 yards on the par-5 14th. His eagle put him back in red figures, but he bogeyed 16.

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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.