Who and What Belong in the Hall

By Brian HewittJanuary 26, 2005, 5:00 pm
Records, the sports sages insist, are made to be broken.

I beg to differ.

The major league baseball record for consecutive no-hit games is two and it is held by Johnny Van der Meer. In order for someone to break that record, a pitcher will have to throw three straight no-hitters.

Ain't ever gonna happen.

One of my favorite golf records is the one for single-season top 10s. In 1945 Harold 'Jug' McSpaden collected 31 top 10s. Part of the reason that record has been largely ignored is because Byron Nelson happened to win11 straight times and capture 18 firsts that same season.

I won't argue if you say nobody will ever break Nelson's record of 11 straight. But I guarantee no one will knock The Jugster out of the picture by posting 32 top 10s in one PGA Tour year.

All of which brings us, in a roundabout kind of way, to the World Golf Hall of Fame and the 2005 PGA Tour ballot recently mailed to a select group of voters, of which I happen to be a fortunate one.

McSpaden is one of 22 players on the ballot. The others, in alphabetical order, are Miller Barber, Bob Charles, Fred Couples, Doug Ford, Hubert Green, Don January, Lee Janzen, Tony Lema, Davis Love III, Larry Nelson, Mark O'Meara, Henry Picard, Denny Shute, Vijay Singh, Macdonald Smith, Dave Stockton, Curtis Strange, Ken Venturi, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Wood and Fuzzy Zoeller.

On my ballot I can select up to seven players. I can name fewer than that if I choose. Every nominee whose name shows up on 65 percent or more of the ballots returned gets in the Hall. If nobody gets 65 percent, the player receiving the highest percentage that year is inducted (providing his name showed up on at least half the returned ballots).

It is interesting to note that Kite finished first on the 2004 PGA Tour ballot and was the only player inducted. Strange was second but didn't get enough votes to gain entry. Singh, making his first appearance on the ballot, wound up 16th out of 25.

Singh went on to have a monster year after the spring voting deadline and almost certainly will be elected this year. Which will make it tougher for guys like Strange or the very-deserving Nelson or semi-forgotten old-timers like Picard and Shute.

My ballot is due March 28. I continue to research and study. Already I have decided to vote for Singh, Picard, Shute and Nelson. I will probably add Lema to that list, which gives me two more picks to ponder if I want them. Green and Charles, I believe, should be in the Hall of fame sooner rather than later.

Love and Couples will make it one day. Strange and Wadkins are deserving, but tough to predict.

Finally, it's also interesting to note that, according to World Golf Hall of Fame officials, no PGA Tour player has ever made it into the Hall on his first appearance on the ballot as the voting is now conducted.

That, of course, will change with Tiger Woods. But we will have to wait 10 years. The rules say you must be 40 to enter.

As for Jug McSpaden, his chances of making the Hall are marginal. But his top-10 record remains one of the best in all of golf. And, to repeat, nobody will ever break it.

Maybe they should put his record in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
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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.