Poulter's WD opens door for PGA Tour rookie

By Doug FergusonMarch 1, 2012, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ' Miguel Angel Carballo was the second alternate on the eve of the Honda Classic when the Argentine rookie sent out a message to his fans, I need a miracle.

He wound up getting Tiger Woods.

Carballo, a 32-year-old who finally made it onto the PGA Tour this year, was thrust into the spotlight at PGA National on Thursday when Ian Poulter withdrew with an illness, and he took his spot in the marquee group of Woods and Lee Westwood, two players formerly No. 1 in the world.

It was a day Carballo wont forget, even if he could do without the score.

Carballo came undone on the par-3 17th hole when his tee shot went into the water, and his next shot flew the green and plugged into the back of the bunker, leaving him no choice but to chip sideways into the sand. He took quadruple-bogey 7 and shot 79.

Westwood had a 70, while Woods opened with a 71.

None of the three us had a good day, Carballo said. Obviously, my day was worse because I hit more bad shots.

Carballo, who qualified for the tour by finishing 10th on the Nationwide Tour money list, already has played five tournaments this year, making three cuts with his best finish a tie for 29th at Pebble Beach.

He tried to Monday qualify and missed with a 72, then decided to hang around to practice before leaving next week for the Puerto Rico Open. On Wednesday, he was hearing rumors that Poulter was sick.

He looked at the tee times and realized Poulter was playing with Woods and Westwood.

His reaction?

Oh, wow, he said.

His manager, Gustavo Piovano, had arranged for a massage at the spa Thursday morning when they saw Poulter leaving PGA National with his bags packed.

Official word arrived a short time later, and Carballo was on his way.

I didnt know anything about him, Woods said. Westy and I didnt know if he played the European Tour or our tour. But he was thrust into a situation Im sure hes not really familiar with, and he handled himself great. Its a tough deal out there. On a golf course where you can be just a little bit off, scores add up quickly.

He wasnt the first player to be among the frenzy that accompanies Woods.

Louis Oosthuizen, in his first time playing in America, was paired with Woods at Doral in 2006 for a World Golf Championship. His clubs didnt arrive until the night before the opening round. Oosthuizen, of course, went on to win a British Open at St. Andrews.

Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe made his American debut at Firestone in 2005 in a World Golf Championship. Just his luck, he burned a quarter-size hole inside his left hand during a barbecue a week before, showed up at Firestone and was in Woods group. He was so nervous that he put a range ball got into his bag, and he accidentally put it in play.

At least this was a regular PGA Tour event, and it wasnt the first one for Carballo. Still, it was quite a way to start the week.

He said he was nervous the first shot and the first few holes, but the rest of the day was calm, even with so many people. He was asked what he could take away from being in such a group.

They dont give away shots, Carballo said.

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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.