Trio Tied for Lead in Futures Tour Opener

By Futures Tour MediaMarch 12, 2004, 5:00 pm
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The FUTURES Golf Tour kicked off the season with a plethora of sub-par rounds at the $65,000 Lakeland FUTURES Golf Classic. Thirty-two players finished under par in the first event of the season at the Tours 400th tournament.
Teenager Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea took the early first-round lead at 6-under-par 66 at Cleveland Heights Golf Course. By afternoon, two other players ' Carrie Wood of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Nicole Dalkas of Palm Desert, Calif. ' had also carded 66s for a share of the lead.
'This is a great start but its just one round,' said Wood, a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour who played in the late afternoon. 'I didnt expect a lot or hit the ball that well off the tee, but I made the putts I needed to make.'
To be exact, Wood made 25 putts and posted a bogey-free, six-birdie round. The eighth-year pro is still looking for her first professional win.
Lee, 18, missed one fairway and one green and carded seven birdies and one bogey en route to taking the lead in the morning wave of tee times. The rookies only bogey came on the 13th green when she missed the green and failed to get up and down for par. She credited her play with experience she gained on the Korean LPGA Tour, where she has won twice and was ranked No. 3 on the 2003 money list.
'Playing here is good experience because Ive never played in the United States other than at the FUTURES Tour Qualifying Tournament last fall,' said Lee, through an interpreter. 'Im still 18. Theres no rush. I want to get one of the five LPGA Tour cards [awarded to the top five money winners at the end of the year].'
Dalkas, a fourth-year pro, also raced the setting sun with her late-afternoon 66. Her short professional career has included two rotator-cuff surgeries on her right shoulder, a one-stroke miss at last years LPGA Qualifying Tournament and more LPGA Monday qualifiers in 2003 than she cares to remember. The former LPGA Tour members goal is to regain her full LPGA status, which she hopes to earn by playing full-time on the FUTURES Tour this season.
'Its only going to teach me how to win playing out here this year,' said Dalkas, 24, who recorded seven birdies and one bogey in her opening round.
Naree Song of Seoul, Korea, got off to a slow start in her professional debut. The prodigy from the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Fla., shot a 3-over-par 75 in her opening round with bogeys on her first three holes. At 17, she is the youngest player on the Tour this season.
'It was a little stressful,' said Song, whose twin sister Aree Song is playing on the LPGA Tour. 'I kind of went cold, but I got it back. I just didnt adjust quickly enough.'
Cleveland Heights, a municipal course, was one of three host courses for last years Qualifying Tournament. But the rain-soaked course last November bore little resemblance to the sun-soaked, quick-rolling greens of todays opening round at the 6,230-yard, par-72 layout. Still, it was a scoring course and birdies were abundant.
Yvonne Cox of Charleston, W.Va., Aram Cho of Seoul, Korea, and Heather Stirling of Stirling, Scotland, all posted 5-under-par rounds of 67.
'This was definitely a confidence booster,' said fourth-year FUTURES Tour member Cox, 26, who took off the last four months to work in golf retail. 'I came into this week with no expectations. The time off from golf was good because it made me hungry when I came back out here.'
Rookie Libby Smith of Essex Junction, Vt., and veteran pro Michele Fuller of Jupiter, Fla., each carded rounds of 68. Amateur Brittany Lincicome of Seminole, Fla., fired a 2-under-par 70.
Perhaps the days most tenacious player was rookie Seul Ki Kim of Incheon, Korea, who arrived at the course at noon for a 12:40 PM tee time after an all-night flight from Korea. Kim ran into U.S. work-visa problems. The visa arrived five days later than expected and the player left Korea Thursday afternoon for Los Angeles, then departed L.A. at 10 PM Thursday to arrive in Tampa at 5:10 AM today. After the drive to Lakeland and some unpacking, refreshing and a couple of winks of sleep, Kim yawned her way to a 1-under-par 71.
'Im very glad the first round is over,' she said through her interpreter. 'I was almost sleeping on the golf course, but Im satisfied.'
Sue Ginter-Brooker of Appleton, Wis., who won the Lakeland event two years ago, is playing seven months pregnant. She shot a 1-over-par 73.
Courtney Swaim of Duluth, Ga., also made the most of her round after her putter broke with six holes to play. The epoxy fell out of her putter shaft, causing the clubhead to spin, so Swaim putted on the next hole with her 7-wood. She putted her last five holes with her pitching wedge, making a four-footer for birdie on one of the holes. 'I wont use the pitching wedge on Saturday unless I start putting bad,' she said.
Saturdays second round will begin at 7:20 AM, off the first and 10th tees. The leaders will tee off at 1:50 PM.
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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."