Day 1 wrap: Auburn, Raleigh, Illinois regionals

By Ryan LavnerMay 15, 2014, 10:24 pm

AUBURN, Ala. – The NCAA Division I men’s regionals got underway Thursday at six sites around the country. The low five teams after Saturday’s final round will advance to the May 23-28 NCAA Championship at Prairie Dunes.

Here are the first-round results from the Auburn, Raleigh and Sugar Grove regionals (click here for complete regional scores):

Auburn Regional, at Auburn (Ala.) University Club:

Leader: Alabama (-1) 

Second place: Texas (+5)

Individual leader: Robin Sciot-Siegrist, Louisville (-3)

Rest of the top 5: Auburn (+6); Colorado (+8); Kennesaw State, Louisville and UNC-Greensboro (+9) 

Work to do: BYU (+11); Virginia Tech (+13); New Mexico (+14)

Skinny: Top-ranked Alabama was the only team to finish Round 1 under par. Only 11 players broke par on a day that featured unseasonably cool temperatures, soggy conditions and a steady 15-mph breeze. … Texas rallied on the back nine to finish the day six shots back. The Longhorns were led by Beau Hossler, who came home in 32 to shoot 71. … No player on second-seeded Virginia Tech broke par. The 301 the Hokies shot Thursday was their highest score of the season (299 was previous high). Still, they are only four shots back of the all-important fifth spot.

Raleigh Regional, at Lonnie Poole Golf Course:

Note: Play suspended because of inclement weather 

Leader: Georgia Tech (-14 thru 14-17) 

Second place: Washington (-10 thru 14-17) 

Individual leader: Richy Werenski, Georgia Tech (-5 thru 17) 

Rest of the top 5: South Alabama (-5 thru 10-14); Texas Tech (-3 thru 10-14); Wake Forest (-3 thru 10-14); Texas A&M (-3 thru 13-15) 

Work to do: Florida State (E thru 14-17); Minnesota (+1 thru 10-12); Mercer (+5 thru 13-15)

Skinny: Heavy storms were the only thing that could slow down the top two seeds, which raced out of the gates with double-digit starts. Four of Tech’s players were 2 under or better, while Trevor Simsby (-4) set the early pace for Washington. … No. 5 seed Mercer got off to a tough start, going 5 over early, but there is plenty of time to turn that around. … Big Ten champion Minnesota is among the teams hovering near the all-important fifth spot, just four shots off the early pace.

Sugar Grove Regional, at Rich Harvest Farms (Ill.):

Leader: UAB (+4)

Second place: Illinois (+5) 

Individual leader: Brian Campbell, Illinois (-3) 

Rest of the top 5: Clemson and Kent State (+11); Jacksonville State and USC (+14)

Work to do: Cal (+17); UNLV (+20); Purdue (+21)

Skinny: UAB, which won only once this season, was the surprising leader after Day 1. The Blazers counted no score higher than 74 in the opening round. … The biggest surprise was top-seeded Cal, which shot 305, its second-highest score of the season, to sit in seventh place. The Golden Bears counted both a 78 and 80 in the first round. … Jacksonville State, which earned its way to regionals by virtue of its victory at the Ohio Valley Conference championship, opened with 302 to share fifth place heading into Friday’s second round. 

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.