Love tries to set up Medinah to favor Americans

By Doug FergusonSeptember 17, 2012, 7:39 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – U.S. captain Davis Love III wanted the Medinah setup to favor the Americans next week in the Ryder Cup, and he kept to a simple philosophy.

The rough is down. The speed of the greens is up.

''It's going to look like a major championship because Medinah is a big old golf course, with big trees and obviously big tents,'' Love said Monday at Sea Island Golf Club. ''It's going to look like a major, but it's going to play probably easier than a major. That benefits our team. We're a long-hitting, freewheeling, fun-to-watch team. And I think it's going to be fun to watch.''

Love returned from another scouting trip at Medinah, the course in the Chicago suburbs that has hosted the PGA Championship twice and the U.S. Open three times. He played Sunday with his son Dru, a freshman at Alabama, and Steve Stricker. Keegan Bradley, one of four Ryder Cup rookies for the U.S., played Medinah a week ago.

Europe has dominated the Ryder Cup over the last two decades, going home with the gold trophy six out of the last eight times.

The Americans have lost only once at home dating to 1999, in 2004 at Oakland Hills, which was set up like a major with thick rough and narrow fairways. They had eight players among the top 20 in the world, but Europe trounced them 18 1/2 - 9 1/2.

Love said limited rough and quick greens should benefit the U.S. team and make it more enjoyable for spectators.

''We've set it up the way we think fans will like it,'' Love said. ''People probably don't believe that, but we set it up so that it's fun to watch. You don't want to see players chipping out and putting for par at the Ryder Cup. You want to see birdies. You want to see excitement. TV is going to like it. We had four players up there in the last week, and they loved it.''

Europe, however, has its share of big hitters in Rory McIlroy, Nicolas Colsaerts, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. There were reports that the first cut, typically a yard wide, had been extended as many as seven paces, and Westwood only shrugged when told about that.

''I've yet to see a setup that favors one team or the other,'' Westwood said two weeks ago at Crooked Stick. ''You can play on a field that's 200 yards wide. It's who holes the most putts.''

The PGA Tour typically plays on faster greens than in Europe, which would seem to favor the Americans. Then again, Europe has eight players on its 12-man team who have some form of Tour membership this year.

''They putt better than us, it seems like, in the Ryder Cup,'' Love said. ''That's why I'm excited going in this year that our guys seem to be putting well, playing well. There's a reason we picked guys that were hot with the putter.''

He used two of his four captain's picks on Stricker and Brandt Snedeker.

Love spent Monday promoting The McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, where he is the tournament host. He did a series of television interviews leading up to the Ryder Cup and then said he would spend the rest of the week working on his pairings. He said he planned a dinner Saturday night in Atlanta during the Tour Championship in which his 12 players would have a good idea who their partners were going to be.

He again mentioned likely pairings of Stricker and Tiger Woods, Bradley and Phil Mickelson, and Masters champion Bubba Watson with U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, and that his plan going into the week would not change unless the partnerships weren't working.

His biggest issue was figuring out which four players would sit out in the four sessions leading to Sunday singles matches. There have been more big tournaments leading up to the Ryder Cup than ever before, which caused two players – Jason Dufner and Sergio Garcia – to skip FedEx Cup playoff events leading up to the Sept. 28-30 matches.

Love said no one should be surprised if some of the biggest stars don't play all five matches.

''We've got some guys who early in their career – Tiger and Phil – started out in their first Ryder Cup needing and wanting to play five,'' Love said. ''Now that they've played a few, they understand that four matches in two days will wear you out for singles, and Sunday singles has 12 points.

Everybody needs to have a winning record, and it's whatever works best.

''What we normally do is play once a day,'' he said. ''With the intensity and pressure of the Ryder Cup, you go in for your first one begging for five (matches), and you go into your third or fourth one begging for four or three. What I'm seeing from a lot of our guys is, 'Play me in the right situations. Let me go out and rest and support the team at least once.'''

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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.