Thunderstorms Suspend Play
Weather was a mixed bag for most of the first round. Light rain yielded to partly cloudy skies in the morning. By mid-day, winds kicked up and made scoring more difficult. A storm cell blew into the area by late afternoon, suspending play at 6:56 PM. Play resumed at 7:29 PM, but a second suspension took place at 7:56 PM. Play never resumed again and was finally called at 8:12 PM.
One player in the morning round took advantage of scoring conditions in the calm of morning. Katie Bakken of Minneapolis fired a 5-under-par 67 to grab the early lead.
After missing the last three tournament cuts, Bakken knew she had to do something. So when she missed playing last Sundays final round in Indiana, she boarded a plane and headed to Florida to visit her swing coach.
Ive been getting way ahead of myself -- thinking so much about the future and trying to get into the LPGA, said Bakken, 24, a second-year Futures Tour player. I needed to start thinking correctly on the golf course. I needed to think more about where I am right now.
Bakken discussed her mental game with coach Adam Harrell at the Jim McLean Academy in Westin, Fla. They worked on her short game, her long game, her putting and her focus. And when she took the first-round lead, Bakken was pleased to make a phone call back to Florida to report on the outcome of their efforts.
I called my coach and said, It worked, said Bakken, who holds a two-shot lead in the clubhouse at Ironwood Golf Course.
What worked for Bakken was everything. She scored her first career hole-in-one on the 170-yard fourth hole with a grip 5-iron, which helped her post a 4-under-par 32 on the front nine with 11 putts. She added four birdies and a single bogey for the round, which included 25 putts and five par saves ' one save coming on the par-4 12th hole where her drive kicked into a water hazard.
What I got today was an increased confidence in my ability to stay in the present and to play one shot at a time, said the former University of Minnesota player. I tried to think of my favorite Bible verse in Proverbs that says, Fix your gaze directly before you. Thats what Im trying to do.
Lisa Penske-Jensen of Bethlehem, Pa., was the only other player to shoot in the 60s with a 3-under-par 69 on the 6,114-yard, par-72 course. The fifth-year Futures Tour player, who spent part of the 2002 season rebuilding her swing with a new instructor, hit 14 greens on the course at the same event where she recorded her career-best finish for fourth place in 2001. I love this golf course, she said.
Ju Kim of Seoul, Korea shot a 70 (-2) to continue her momentum from last week. I feel good right now and I just try to keep myself comfortable, said Kim, who finished third at last weeks Northwest Indiana Futures Golf Classic. My irons and short game are pretty good.
Kim is tied for third with Nadine Ash of Richards Bay, South Africa and Marianne Morris of Middletown, Ohio at 2-under 70.
Caroline Goasguen of Montpellier, France and recently-turned professional Katherine Hull of Queensland, Australia, who played college golf for Pepperdine University in last weeks NCAA Division I Womens Golf Championship, had the benefit of playing in the first group off today. Both players opened with a 1-under-par 71 and are tied for sixth with Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., who played in the afternoon.
This years $70,000 Health Care Futures Charity Golf Classic visits Wisconsin for the eighth year and is in its third staging at Ironwood Golf Course.
Full coverage of the Aurora Health Care Futures Charity Golf Classic
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.