Predicting 2006 The Future is Now

By Brian HewittDecember 19, 2005, 5:00 pm
The New Year will be upon us quicker than Reggie Bushs first step.
So its that time again. Time to fearlessly predict the future. Or, at least, to fearlessly predict what will transpire in 2006 in the world of golf.
Im going way out on a limb and predicting that in 2006:
  • Aussies Greg Norman and Mark Hensby wont play any practice rounds together. They wont go fishing together. They wont be invited to any of the same parties. The latter means, by the way, that Hensbys going to miss a lot of good parties.
  • The U.S. will win the 36th Ryder Cup matches, scheduled for Ireland in September, in a rout. You have to go all the way back to 1981 in England to find a Ryder Cup the Americans won by more than two points. That makes this a contrarian pick.
  • Tiger Woods will announce on his website that his wife, Elin, is great with child. This is a prediction, by the way, not a news item.
  • Kevin Na will win on the PGA Tour at the tender age of 22. Big deal. Gene Sarazen won three times, including two majors, when he was 20 years old.
  • Sean OHair and his father will not reconcile. But the media will get past the idea that it must re-write the details of their fractured relationship every time OHair gets to another city.
  • Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, whose combined ages equal that of Jay Haas, will all win on the LPGA Tour.
  • Jay Haas will win on the Champions Tour. His son, Bill, will contend in a major.
  • Left-handed rookie Bubba Watson, from Bagdad, Fl., will lead the PGA Tour in driving distance. He will lead the Tour in oohs. He will lead the Tour in aahs. And he will, if he is lucky, get an education in course management while keeping his card.
  • Ben Crane will speed up his pace of play. But not enough to satisfy all his lodge brothers on Tour.
  • Other PGA Tour players you shouldnt be surprised to see win again include Bart Bryant, Lucas Glover and Jason Gore.
  • Nor should you be surprised to see Colin Montgomerie win for the first time, officially, in the States.
  • Swedens Henrik Stenson, the best player almost nobodys ever heard of, will make (and star on) Europes Ryder Cup team.
  • Ernie Els will win the Masters. But nobody will ask him to do a calendar.
  • An over par score will win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. And somewhere, a retired Tom Meeks will smile.
  • The Beatles, and their Liverpudlian roots, will be the most tortured feature story of the year when the media arrives at Royal Liverpool in England for the Open Championship. Beatlemania and Tigermania will reach a frothy head when a photo-opping Woods hits drivers off the deck of a ferry crossing the Mersey while Gerry and the Pacemakers croon in the background.
    And then, when December 31, 2006 rolls around, I will saw off that limb behind me.
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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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.'"

    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."

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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.