Wood Leads Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaJuly 31, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourBELTSVILLE, Md. -- Four weeks ago, Futures Tour rookie Courtney Wood was rummaging around in her family's attic when she came across her dad's pile of discarded golf clubs. Searching for a putting stroke she could trust, Wood plucked out a STX belly putter, knocked off the dust and emerged with new hope.
 
Wood's hopes and dreams moved to a new level after today's second round of the $70,000 Children's Hospital Futures Golf Classic. The recent Vanderbilt University graduate hung around the lead all day, then birdied three of her last five holes to jump into the lead heading into Sunday's final round.
 
'I've been playing well, but I haven't quite put together three good rounds,' said Wood, 22, who carded a 2-under-par 69 today to take the lead at six-under 136.
 
Wood spent a good part of the day chasing another rookie, Allison Hanna, who built a three-shot lead with three holes to play. But Hanna made bogeys on two of her last three holes when she struck an embedded rock in her divot and missed the green to the right on No. 16, then wasn't able to connect on a down-sloping fairway bunker shot on the last hole, which set up a 25-foot downhill putt for par. Hanna steadied herself and made a knee-knocker 8 footer for bogey on the 18th to fall back to second at 5-under 137 with her second-round score of 69.
 
'I only hit one solid drive today,' said a disappointed Hanna, a recent Ohio State University graduate. 'I guess it shows that it's not important how far it goes, but that it's in the fairway.'
 
Hanna got on the board early with birdies on holes three and nine, but her trouble started on the 10th hole when she found one of Cross Creek Golf Club's numerous Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). A drop, an approach and two putts later, Hanna lost a shot to bogey. But she rattled in three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15 and seemed to be picking up steam when she stumbled with the two late bogeys.
 
Hanna downplayed her disappointment and said instead, 'It wasn't a struggle. I had fun even though it took all day to play. This is what you play for -- to be in the hunt at the end of the tournament.'
 
And for the second consecutive Sunday, Hanna has moved herself into good position for a chance at her first professional win.
 
But first, she'll have to hold off hard-charging Kyeong Bae of Seoul, Korea, a rookie who posted a 68 to move into a tie at 3-under 139 with Emily Bastel of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Bastel, a former U.S. Curtis Cup member, carded a 69 on the par-71 course measuring at a difficult 6,100 hazard-laden yards. For the second straight day, the typically straight hitter double-bogeyed the par-3 fifth hole when she hit the left water hazard.
 
'I'm going to birdie that hole on Sunday,' said Bastel, 23, who played collegiately at Michigan State University. 'That hole owes me one.'
 
Non-exempt LPGA Tour member Joellyn Erdmann-Crooks of Little Chute, Wis., fired the day's low round of 67 to move into fifth place at 2-under 140, while Rachel Bailey of Faulconbridge, Australia and Heidi Chua of Manila, The Philippines, deadlocked at 1-under 141.
 
Others had chances, but stumbled into Cross Creek's ESA Never-Never Land with little or no chance to recover. Long-hitting Tami Durdin of Adelaide, Australia, who was cruising along at 7-under par for the day after 15 holes, flew the 16th green into deep trouble and triple-bogeyed the hole. Then she bogeyed 17 and 18 to give back five shots on the last three holes. Durdin finished with a 69 for a tie with three others at 146.
 
But it was Wood and her belly putter who plodded along looking for opportunities and inching ahead when others faltered. The rookie admitted she had peeked at the leaderboard after the 14th hole and saw Hanna moving ahead.
 
'I told myself to just keep playing,' said Wood, of Brentwood, Tenn. 'My teaching pro recently told me to play like I had nothing to lose. If I go for it, I'll either miss the cut or break through.'
 
And Wood is hoping for the latter. It could happen. She's staying with her boyfriend's parents in nearby Lutherville, Md., and boyfriend Scott Neuen flew home to caddie for Wood this weekend at the inaugural 54-hole event in the Washington, D.C. area.
 
'I was kind of nervous about playing in front of his family,' said Wood. 'He's only watched me play 12 holes at the NCAA Championship. I even told him when we were driving to the course today that it felt strange for him to be coming to watch me work.'
 
But guess what? When you play like Wood, it's not work. And as Cross Creek's greens get firmer and quicker in the summer sun, Wood's belly putter is ready. It might be a hand-me-down club, but a first professional win will be a brand new experience well worth the attic plunder.
 
Seventy-seven players in the 144-player field made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+9).
 
Sundays final round will begin at 8 a.m. from the first tee only, with the leaders going off at 11:45 a.m.
 
Related Links:
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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.