LPGA Future Bright and Young

By Brian HewittFebruary 16, 2005, 5:00 pm
Pretty soon the LPGA will be back on the radar screen. The first official event on its tour is the inaugural SBS Open at Turtle Bay next week.
 
Pretty soon after that'three events later to be exact'the women will be teeing it up at their seasons first major'The Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Grace Park will attempt to successfully defend. But much of the hype will center around the presence in the field of Hawaiis Michelle Wie and Japans Ai Miyazato.
 
Wie is the 15-year-old American sensation who finished fourth in this event last year as a 14-year-old. Miyazato is the 19-year-old who won more than a million dollars in her country last year as an 18-year-old and led Japan to victory in the Womens World Cup of Golf in South Africa last week where she was trailed by no less than 45 Japanese media members.
 
If you are looking for candidates for a team picture for the future of womens golf, Wie and Miyazato are where you should start.
 
Michelle has lately heard of Ai Miyazato, said Wies father, B.J., earlier this week. Her brother played the practice round with Michelle during the 2004 Sony Open. It is great that Miyazato will bring more excitement to the 2005 Kraft Nabisco. More Japanese golf fans will watch the event on TV.
 
Throw in the name of Florida teenager Paula Creamer, 18, and you have a Young Three in womens golf that could soon become its Big Three.
 
Im sure you have already sensed that there will be an influx of young golfers onto both the PGA and LPGA tours in the next five years, B.J. Wie told me. Michelle happens to be one who has received most attention.
 
I think there are a number of factors to explain the trend, including the advancement in training and equipment technology and the development and growth of highly competitive junior golf tournaments. These young golfers have started playing golf from a very young age.
 
And, alas, they seem to be growing up very fast. According to the elder Wie, daughter Michelle has been a ferociously quick study at the Texas hold em version of poker so popular on American television of late.
 
She is so good that her playing partners, who are my friends, are scared of Michelle, B.J. said.
 
Does Michelle live for these rivalries, real or imagined, with players like Miyazato or Creamer?
 
The media must understand that Michelle plays golf'mostly professional events'as her hobby and extracurricular activity after school, said B.J. Wie. All of her close friends are as busy as Michelle in swimming, horseback riding, Karate, volleyball, piano, violin, etc. They are always seeking an opportunity to get together on the weekend for shopping, movies, eating, etc.
 
Bo (Michelles mother) and I are so happy to see Michelle enjoying her school and life in general. After she turns professional, it will be important for her to think about rivalries and other players.
 
Ai Miyazato, it says here, will be one of those players.
 
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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.