Holmes, English on top of crowded Farmers leaderboard

By Doug FergusonFebruary 8, 2015, 12:18 am

SAN DIEGO – J.B. Holmes birdied all but one of the par 5s at Torrey Pines and escaped with bogey on his one big miss Saturday, giving him a 4-under 68 to join Harris English at the top of a crowded leaderboard in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Given this is the South Course at Torrey Pines, Sunday might be more about survival than shootout.

''This is a U.S. Open golf course,'' English said. ''And you've got to treat it like that.''

English led by as many as three shots early in the third round until his streak of 39 holes at par or better ended with a double bogey on No. 4. He lost the lead again late in his round with a poor chip on the 16th and had to settle for a 1-over 73.

They were at 9-under 207 with a host of contenders behind them. Of the 12 players separated by only two shots going into the final round, all but three have won on the PGA Tour and two them –Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas – have won in the last month.

In the previous four events this year, two in Hawaii and two in the desert, a score like 73 would be enough to send someone out of contention. The South Course at Torrey Pines, host of the 2008 U.S. Open, is different with its length and its thick rough. Jhonattan Vegas, two shots behind, hit one tee shot on the 14th hole that missed the fairway by a few feet and he had to stoop over just to see his golf ball.

''It's a battle out there,'' English said. ''I had a tough stretch on 4 ... I had a tough go on 16. But you've got to grind.''


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The 68 by Holmes, Carlos Ortiz and defending champion Scott Stallings, who was three shots behind, was the low score in the third round.

''Guys are getting bunched,'' Walker said. ''You've got par 5s that are tough, and a lot of them are unreachable.''

Walker did his part. Standing in the 18th fairway, 261 yards from the hole and a slight breeze in his face, he decided at the last minute to go up one club with a 3-wood, choked up slightly and hit a cut. It wound up about 12 feet by the hole, and his eagle putt to share the lead touched the right side of the cup. He tapped in for a 70.

Holmes is on the A-list of power players, and while his length helped, his short game led to birdies. He got up-and-down from a bunker on No. 6, reached the greenside bunker in two shots on the 603-yard 13th hole and had to lay up on the 18th after driving into the rough. He holed a 12-footer for birdie.

He was tied for the lead until pulling his tee shot into a hazard left of the 17th fairway, and then putting the next shot into a bunker. But he got up-and-down to escape with bogey and had a share of the lead when English made his late bogey.

''This golf course is a big, ball-striking course,'' Holmes said. ''So you've got to hit it in the fairway, you've got to hit some good shots and give yourself a chance for some birdies. ... The rough, it probably plays worse than it did at the U.S. Open when they had it here in 2008.''

Lucas Glover, emerging from a tough stretch of poor putting, had a 70 and will be in the final group with Holmes and English, a close friend.

No shot was more memorable for Chad Campbell than his hole-in-one on the picturesque third hole with a pitching wedge. He played well the other 17 holes for a 70 and is in the hunt for his first victory in more than seven years.

Others at 8-under 208 were Spencer Levin (70) and Nick Watney, who made all pars on the back nine for a 72.

Day, at No. 8 in the world the only player from the top 10 to make cut, holed out on the 17th for eagle to salvage a mediocre day and shot 71. He was only two shots behind.

English, a two-time winner on Tour, figured anything under par on Sunday might be good enough to win. Or maybe not. He later said anyone within five shots of the lead could not be counted out in the final round at Torrey Pines. If that's the case, 31 players are still in the picture.

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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.