Futures Tour Announces First Major

By Futures Tour MediaJune 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
Futures TourLAKELAND, Fla. -- The FUTURES Golf Tour will launch its first major championship next year in Decatur, Ill., with a purse of $100,000, making it the Tour's richest purse. The tour made this announcement today in Decatur prior to the start of its longest-running tournament, the Michelob ULTRA FUTURES Charity Golf Classic. The tournament will be renamed the Michelob ULTRA FUTURES Championship at Hickory Point Golf Course starting next year.
 
'The FUTURES Tour and the tournament in Decatur have grown together over the last 21 years, so to make this tournament our first major championship is thoroughly fitting,' said Zayra F. Calderon, president and chief executive officer of the FUTURES Golf Tour. 'This is the next step for the FUTURES Tour and this gives players a reassurance that this Tour is committed to support their development, enabling them to be successful at the next level.'
 
In addition, the tournament will be contested over 72 holes -- making it the Tour's only four-round event. Tournament organizers in Decatur and FUTURES Tour officials worked together for several months to decide on a tournament format that would give the event the feel of a major championship.
 
LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty M. Votaw offered his endorsement of the FUTURES Golf Tour's plan to upgrade a long-time existing tournament to major status.
 
'As the official developmental tour of the LPGA Tour, we congratulate the FUTURES Tour in elevating one of is longest-running events to major championship status, the first-ever on the FUTURES Tour,' said Votaw. 'And, by offering a $100,000 purse, there is a demonstrated commitment to offering increased economic opportunities to its members. Throughout the years, the FUTURES Tour has provided women golfers with a competitive schedule for them to hone their game with the hopes of competing on the LPGA Tour. The Michelob ULTRA FUTURES Championship is a terrific step in this process.'
 
The prospect of hosting a major in his Midwest town has energized John Skeffington, Decatur's tournament chairman, who worked with the Tour to come up with something that would make his event stand out. Together, the two entities agreed on a definition of what a major championship would entail on the FUTURES Golf Tour.
 
'It would be very hard for us to take this on if we were only a few years old, but we've been around for 21 of the tour's 25 years,' said Skeffington. 'Our goal has always been to make our tournament better each year. We really wanted to take this tournament to the next level because the FUTURES Tour is such a great partner.'
 
Skeffington said the final touches are still being added to give next year's tournament a 'major feel.' He hopes to see the tournament become an all-caddied event, as is used at the season-ending YWCA FUTURES Classic in York, Pa. He also wants real-time scoring to become a staple of the event and plans to provide lockers for players -- a courtesy that is standard at LPGA Tour events.
 
With its inaugural FUTURES Tour tournament held in 1985, past champions of the Decatur tournament line up like a commencement ceremony for LPGA-bound pros. Tammie Green won the tournament twice (1985, 1986) and was followed by such future LPGA players as Denise (Baldwin) Killeen, Vickie (Moran) Odegard, Marianne Morris, Kristal Parker, Marilyn Lovander, Nicole Jeray, Angela Buzminski and Lorena Ochoa.
 
Three of the event's top finishers from 2004 earned LPGA Tour cards this year by finishing among the Tour's top five at the end of last season. The 2004 Michelob ULTRA FUTURES Charity Golf Classic winner, Aram Cho, was last year's FUTURES Tour Rookie of the Year and advanced to the LPGA Tour alongside Lindsey Wright and Malinda Johnson, runners-up at the 2004 Decatur tournament.
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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.