DJ leads delayed Open Championship; Spieth 5 back

By Doug FergusonJuly 18, 2015, 8:27 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland - For all the debate over whether the British Open should have started Saturday, Dustin Johnson only cared about the finish.

A second round that lasted nearly 39 hours because of rain one day and a raging wind the next finally ended with Johnson driving the 18th green and taking two putts from 150 feet for birdie and a 3-under 69.

That gave him a one-shot lead over Danny Willett of England, who for the second straight year did not hit a single shot in the British Open on Saturday. Last year it was because he missed the cut. This time it was because he finished his second round Friday.

Even a championship with 155 years of history can deliver a strange twist.

And there were plenty on the Old Course. Brooks Koepka refused to play when his ball wouldn't stay still on the 11th green. Jordan Spieth three-putted five times in one round. Tiger Woods posted his highest 36-hole in the British Open.

Rarest of all is that the wind delay that lasted more than 10 hours forced the first Monday finish in 27 years at the British Open.

Not so peculiar was Johnson atop the leaderboard at 10-under 134.

Paul Lawrie, the 46-year-old Scot who won a crazy Open at Carnoustie in 1999, played bogey-free over the final 14 holes for a 70 and was two shots behind. Louis Oosthuizen (70) and Jason Day (71) joined the large group at 7-under 137 that included Adam Scott and Zach Johnson, who finished Friday.


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Spieth, going after the third leg of the Grand Slam, shot 72 and was five behind.

One month after a three-putt from 12 feet cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, Johnson walked the Old Course with a swagger. He did enough damage Friday that even a couple of bogeys didn't get him off track, and he showed in the short time he played Saturday he could handle the wind.

"Every aspect of your game is challenged," Johnson said.

As gusts began to top 40 mph when the second round resumed in the morning, Johnson chose to chip up the steep slope at the front of the par-5 14th green. He didn't hit quite hard enough. And then, the player with a reputation of being in too much of a hurry at the majors made the mistake of taking his time. An inch away from placing his coin behind the ball to mark it, a gust moved his ball and it picked up enough momentum to roll off the green and cause Spieth to jump out of the way.

Three putts later, Johnson had his second bogey of the week. One hole later, the R&A realized it was too windy to continue.

Johnson returned nearly 11 hours later, made two solid pars and finished with his birdie. It was the fourth time in the last six rounds at the majors that he has had at least a share of lead, though not when it mattered - at the end.

This might be his best chance yet.

Spieth three-putted for par on the 14th hole and swiped his putter in disgust at leaving two of those putts short. He had another three-putt from about 90 feet on the 17th hole. But he stayed in the game by driving the 18th green for a birdie.

"I believe I'm still in contention. I still believe I can win this tournament," Spieth said.

But after spending two days playing alongside Johnson, he also realized a third straight major will require some help.

"I need a really solid round tomorrow because Dustin is not letting up," Spieth said. "Dustin is going to shoot a good round tomorrow with less wind, and I'm going to need to shoot a great round to really give myself a chance."

The second round didn't finish Friday because a burst of heavy rain flooded the course. That was nothing compared with the gusts off the Eden Estuary, and the R&A knew it was going to be on the edge to play. R&A officials said they spent an hour on the 11th green - the most exposed part of the golf course - to make sure golf balls weren't moving. And then it started, and Koepka's ball wouldn't stay put.

He took nearly 30 minutes to hit one putt. He kept marking his golf ball and protesting with a rules official and finally said he wouldn't play when his ball moved a couple of inches on three occasions. A few holes ahead, Oosthuizen putted up to 3 feet on the 13th. A gust blew it a few feet away and, as the South African laughed at the absurdity, it moved about 8 feet away.

About that time, play was halted and didn't resume until 6 p.m.

It was the third straight time that an Open at St. Andrews was halted by wind - 2010 for the British Open and 2013 for the Women's British Open. The fullest grandstand was behind the driving range as players kept trying to stay loose in case the wind subsided, and it finally did.

Ultimately, what mattered was the finish.

Just not for Woods. He never had a realistic chance of making the cut. Needing mostly birdies, he resumed his round with three straight bogeys and shot 75 to finish his two rounds at 7-over 151. That was his highest 36-hole ever in the British Open, one month after his highest 36-hole total ever (156) to miss the cut in the U.S. Open.

Willett, meanwhile, also came to the golf course to practice.

"We had it yesterday, but they've had an extremely long day today," Willett said. "It's not ideal for the guys."

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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.