Wright is Right On in NY

By Futures Tour MediaJuly 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
Futures TourALTAMONT, N.Y. -- For what may have seemed like an eternity to Lindsey Wright of Albury, Australia, she finally emerged Sunday from a long shadow cast by former Pepperdine University teammate Katherine Hull.
 
The comparisons began when they both came to the California University from Australia four years ago. Hull, 21, is a tall, powerfully built, athletic player who could easily put down her clubs and sub as a soccer goalkeeper or basketball power forward; Wright is a small, petite Englishwoman who moved with her family to the Land Down Under at age nine and turned to books and film for entertainment. Hull, of Queensland, has the quick smile and ready handshake with a casual Aussie 'no worries mate' attitude; Wright has a polite, but quiet English demeanor with an almost shy approach to strangers.
 
But there was nothing reticent or understated about the way Wright won her first professional tournament at the GE Futures Professional Golf Classic at Orchard Creek Golf Club in this Albany, N.Y. suburb. And there was nothing mousy about the way she smacked her 6-iron second shot 190 yards just short of the 485-yard, par-5 18th hole to outlast veterans Michele Fuller and Lisa Hall in a one-hole playoff.
 
Wright shot an even-par 71 and played steady throughout the day as the scoreboard fluctuated dramatically all afternoon on the 6,166-yard course. But her playoff chip to three feet for birdie clinched the win and broke the deadlock at 8-under-par 205 to give Wright her first professional title and allow her to become the second Aussie from Pepperdine to win a Futures Tour event in the last six tournaments. Sure, Hull beat her to the punch five events ago, winning her pro debut in early June and repeating the following week. But this time, it was Wright who took the win and the $8,400 champions check at the $60,000 event. This time, it was Wrights tournament.
 
'This is amazing and Ive been dreaming about this for ages,' said Wright, who carded rounds of 65-69-71 for the week and played with Hull in the final round. 'Ive always doubted myself, but out here, its all about belief and confidence.'
 
Wright could have been rattled if shed allowed herself to get sidetracked. Fuller, of Jupiter, Fla., tied Wright for the lead with four holes to play and eventually took the outright lead with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th. But the former LPGA Tour player gave back a shot on the next hole and never got it back. In the playoff, her second shot into the green kicked into the right water hazard and she could score no better than par.
 
'I three-putted the 17th two days in a row, which didnt help,' said Fuller. 'And I tried to go for it on 18, but I aimed for the pin and was too far out right.'
 
Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England and a former LPGA Rookie of the Year, played her back-nine holes in three under and seemed poised to win for the first time this year. She could have moved to 9-under for the lead and challenged the three groups behind her to a final-hole chase if she would have drained a five-foot birdie putt on 18.
 
'I played too much break,' said Hall, who tied for second with Fuller at 205. Halls second shot into the 18th green in the playoff rolled through the green and into the back water hazard. Like Fuller, she could do no better than par with a chip and two-foot putt.
 
Even Hull, both a friend and nemesis to Wright in the past years, had a last chance to steal the thunder of her old teammate. Hull had a chip for eagle on the last hole that would have tied Wright at 8-under par, but she settled for birdie and finished at 7-under 206 with an even-par final-round 71.
 
'Lindsey played well today and shes the one to beat,' said Hull, as she waited and watched her former teammate try to earn her first professional title. Hull later was spotted giving their college coach a play-by-play description of Wrights playoff over a cell phone. When Wright was eventually honored as the champion on the 18th green, Hull was snapping pictures of the awards ceremony.
 
'Theyre very competitive, but if it hadnt been for both of them pushing each other so hard over the years, they wouldnt be as good as they are,' said Pepperdine coach Laurie Gibbs. 'That competitiveness is why they both are so successful. It doesnt surprise me at all that Lindsey won.'
 
And perhaps even more importantly to Wright, it should come as no surprise that she has what it takes to be successful on the next level. That wasnt crystal clear to her when she first arrived on the Futures Tour in mid June. And it wasnt even clear early last week when she came into this event with only a season-best tie for 37th, a missed cut and a tie for 50th in her three previous events.
 
'I need to work on a lot of technical things and I need to get stronger,' she said. 'Ive had to refocus, find a place to live and get settled. I thought about going home at one point, but I knew Id either have to work in McDonalds or in a factory with mom and dad. I decided to suck it up and stick it out. And I decided I have to work hard at this if I want to do well.'
 
Wright not only played well, but she finally cast her own shadow on the tournament field. She became the 10th first-time season winner in 13 Futures Tour events. And she set a new stage for the future that could usher in the same kind of rivalry that has made LPGA stars Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam push each other to greatness.
 
Make no mistake, even a quiet, soft-spoken bookworm like Lindsey Wright still has a burning desire to win at the highest level. And her old pal Hull may share that stage with her for years to come.
 
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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.