Wilson Fires Career Best
Wilson, who started her day on the 10th tee, had a hot front nine consisting of four birdies on 12, 16, 17, and 18. All putts were within 10 feet. She continued her streak on the back nine by draining a 20-foot birdie putt on hole No.1 and two-putted from 30 feet for birdie on the par-5 475-yard second hole. Wilson parred the remaining holes and finished with a flawless 66 (-6).
'Putting was the key out there for me today,' stated the 41-year-old Wilson, who made 12 putts in her first nine holes. 'That has always been the weakest part of my game and it is finally starting to come around. I was also striking the ball a lot better today. The distance on my balls is getting a lot longer and it is nice to see it go further.'
Wilsons best finish so far this year was a tie for sixth at last weeks Betty Puskar Futures Golf Classic in Morgantown, W. Va. To date, she has earned $8,657 in 12 tournament starts and is ranked 42nd on the Futures Tour money list, compared to last years 14th place finish on the final money list with $23,362. A former member of the 2000 LPGA Tour, Wilson is slightly displeased with her performance this season.
Wilson commented, 'Ive had a disappointing year in terms of results. I ended strong last year and I was hoping that this season, I could pick up where I left off, but that has not happened. Each year, the competition gets better and better and you have to score low to keep your head above water. Im really trying to get things in order for LPGA Q-school and these past few weeks have been great for my confidence.'
Upon graduating from a full tennis scholarship at Stanford University in 1983, Wilson became a professional tennis player, competing several times at three of the four grand slam tennis events including the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon.
'I started a lot of tennis careers,' noted Wilson, who was also a traveling coach for the United States Tennis Association in 1988, working with tennis stars like Jennifer Capriati. 'I played against some younger and unknown players at the time like Gabrielle Sabitini. I learned a lot from my tennis experience and had a lot of fun, but I retired and became a coach while the opportunity was available.'
In 1992, Wilson left behind her tennis and coaching career to dedicate herself to a new passion ' golf. She adjusted so well that six years later she turned professional and in 1999, she became only the second woman, along with Althea Gibson, to play in both the golf and tennis U.S. Womens Open Championships.
Wilson is not alone in her journey back to the LPGA Tour. Since joining the FUTURES Tour in 1999, she has been traveling with her husband and caddie Stan, a former television sports anchorman in California, and their pet dog Koko.
'Stan helps me with everything from my swing to my mental game,' said Wilson. 'He is out there on the course with me everyday and has such great insight. He has sacrificed a lot to be with me. Its been a rough summer in terms of golf, but Im very lucky to have my best friend traveling with me and helping me with every aspect of my game.'
Turners 68 (-4) round was made up of five birdies, three bogeys, and an eagle on the par-5 540-yard fifth hole. Current money winner Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, finished with a 1-under-par 71 and is tied for 17th with eight other players. Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif., who trails Ochoa by $1,747 on the Tours money list finished with a 72 (E). She is tied for 26th with 13 others. Finally, Miriam Nagl of Berlin, Germany, ended her round tied for 52nd with 74 (+2). Nagl occupies third place on the money list with $38,198.
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.