George Leads Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaJune 26, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourAVON, Conn. -- When asked to sum up her second round today in the GMAC Futures Golf Classic, leader Stephanie George had a one-word answer: 'Amen.'
It was a hard-fought afternoon with swirling wind and rock-hard greens. Like most of the rest of the field, the native of Myerstown, Pa., was left guessing about her club selection. She carded two birdies and a bogey to finish the day at one-under-par 70 and at 137 (-5) for the tournament. The back nine consisted of 'nine very hard pars' with par saves all the way to the 18th green.
But for the second consecutive week, George finds herself staring at a potential win at the halfway point in the Futures Tour season.
'All day, I was trying to maintain my ground,' said George, who, as defending champion, finished as runner-up last week in Decatur, Ill., with a final-round 66. 'I wasn't trying to play safe today, but I didn't want to do anything stupid, either.'
George began today's round at Blue Fox Run Golf Course as the co-leader with Valerie Osborn of Kildeer, Ill. But Osborn lost steam and fell off the leader board with a second-round 79. Veteran Michelle Murphy of Tacoma, Wash., who started the day one shot behind the leaders, birdied three of her first six holes to put pressure on the leaders, charging ahead with a two-shot lead.
But Murphy also struggled in the wind on the back nine and posted three bogeys to fall behind George by two strokes at day's end. Her even-par score of 71 and three-under total of 139 for 36 holes didn't quite look as heroic as the effort felt.
'I don't feel like I played that bad,' said Murphy, 37, who played on the LPGA Tour for three years. 'I made some putts, but it doesn't show because I'm not under par.'
Murphy and George both said there were points in their rounds today when they were indecisive with club and shot selection. For Murphy on the 13th hole, she didn't make up her mind on her approach, hit it fat, then faced a cliffhanger for bogey. It was that kind of day on the par-71, 6,154-yard course.
But some players rode the wind better than others. Kylie Pratt of Mackay, Australia, playing in the morning rain, shot the day's low round of four-under-par 67 to move into a share of fifth place. Top-ranked Lindsey Wright of Albury, Australia fired a two-under 69 to climb into a share of third. And Meredith Ward of Crystal Lake, Ill., and rookie Jeanne Cho of Orlando, Fla., finished the day tied at two-under 140, in third place.
Even the local amateur exemption Marika Lendl, daughter of tennis great Ivan Lendl, produced solid play on a day when many players moved backward. The resident of Goshen, Conn., fired a second day of even-par 71 to stand at 142 for two rounds in her first professional tournament. The 14-year old played the front nine at one-over par, but rallied on the back nine with a one-under-par 34 to repeat her even-par performance on the course. Lendl drained a 60-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and a 40-footer on the 18th to become the youngest player in history to make the 36-hole cut in a Futures Tour event.
While the wind played havoc with scores all day, at least one other player rode the wind effectively. Heather Angell of Winston-Salem, N.C., scored an eagle-2 on the 11th hole. Angell holed out from the fairway from 100 yards with a pitching wedge.
With another big Sunday approaching, George and Murphy know they won't be the only players hoping for an easier day in the final round. George has never held the lead going into the final round. Murphy hasn't won since 2002. And the undulating greens at Blue Fox Run promise to keep the field a little on edge for a full 54 holes.
'I have a great opportunity, a chance to win this tournament,' said Murphy. 'I like the position I'm in.'
And George, still 'trying to be a little bit more sure of myself,' hopes she can close the book on Sunday with one more 'Amen.'
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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.