Still Looking

By Brian HewittJuly 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
Its an endless parade. And it is almost longer than the tournament itself. The press officials at the Open Championship march player after player after player into the interview room prior to the tournament.
And you sift through their pronouncements like a miner panning for a nugget of gold.
Tiger Woods is asked about a Toronto newspaper story reporting that a made-for-TV match pairing him with Annika Sorenstam against Canadians Mike Weir and Lorie Kane August 25. And he says thats the first hes heard of it. Oops.
But later Woods shows a contrarian side. Asked about the decision to change the difficult fourth hole from a long par 4 into a short par 5, Woods disagrees with almost everybody else, saying it was a good decision.
Its supposed to reward wedge shots in there, Woods says. So that was a good change. And he is spot on with his observation. One day Woods will make a terrific course designer if he so chooses.
You have to be patient with these players at these pressers. Not all of them have that much to say on the eve of a major championship. And not all the questions are worthy of thoughtful answers.
Like this one to Nick Faldo whose wife is due to deliver a child soon after the tournament:
Q: Is there a bigger chance for a fourth baby than a fourth title this week?
FALDO: Oh, you never know. I feel good at the moment. Ive played well this morning and dusted off the youngsters.
Not a very rich vein of verbal ore there.
Moving right along, PGA champion Rich Beem gives everybody hope. Anybody can do it, he says when asked about winning a first major. And Im proof of that. So I think I probably in some ways inspired some guys a little bit.
Did he, you wonder, inspire young Englishman Justin Rose?
More compelling was Beem on British suds: The beer is a little warm, but its not bad. After a couple'the first one, it goes down a little stiff, but after that'because its darker beer than Coors Light, which is 90 percent water.
Beems game is better than his syntax.
And you wince because you recall the trouble Beem got into with the local constables for swilling too freely the only other year he played in an Open Championship. Bottoms up, Beemer.
Padraig Harrington said this: I would suggest some familiarity with links golf is needed.
Ernie Els said this: I think the guys who have played here before definitely have a bit of an advantage.
Greg Norman, who won this tournament at this venue 10 years ago, said this: Past experience, yes, knowing the wind conditions.
You get the idea.
It is interesting to note that only six of the top 20 players in the world have played in an Open Championship at Royal St. Georges.
So you are tempted to say this golf tournament is wide open. But you dont because you saw Woods form with your own eyes at the Western Open, his last start.
Truth be told, almost every player in the field will be saying more compelling things once the tournament begins. The notable exception to this is Colin Montgomerie, the so-called best Wednesday interview in golf.
Monty can be positively erudite when he chooses to be so. And he can be positive churlish when he has just finished a round of golf that doesnt measure up to his enormous standards.
The bottom line is most of these guys are better players than they are speechifiers. The problem at the Open Championship is the practice rounds arent THAT compelling.
But the build-up is compelling. The tabloids need grist for their scurrilous mills. Legitimate broadcasters need sound bites and legitimate writers need quotes.
Im just not sure why they brought Phil Mickelson into the pressroom Monday. And Im not sure why Mickelson agreed to be interrogated, knowing most of the questions would either be about Woods or Mickelsons failure to have won a major at this relatively advanced stage of a brilliant career.
Phil Mickelson said this Monday when asked about Royal St. Georges: Its a wonderful, wonderful place.
No nuggets in this one, fill another pan...
Related Links:
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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.