Estes Quietly Sneaks Up on Tour Money List

By George WhiteOctober 16, 2001, 4:00 pm
Okay now, this is getting serious. While we were all talking about Tiger or Mickelson or Duval, the Ryder Cup or Sergio, this guy has just been quietly going about his business.
Uh ' dont look now, but he just won a tournament. Again.
Bob Estes came from five back to take the Invensys at Las Vegas Classic. To win on those three Las Vegas courses would require just a ton of birdies, youre probably thinking. And Estes did ' he shot a 9-under-par 63 Sunday, the fifth day of this hole-out binge. That makes 17 straight rounds in the 60s for him. The Air Canada, the Bell Canadian Open, the Texas Open and now Las Vegas ' you have to go back to the PGA Championship to find a score in the 70s.
And he won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. Somebody better do something quickly before things get out of hand here. While we were out napping, someone came in and cleaned up.
Im finding my game, Estes said simply. And the golf world is finding him, at the rather advanced age of 35.
Actually, Estes was on the verge of breaking through in 1994, when he was 14th on the money list. He suddenly found he couldnt drive it in the same county as the golf course, however, and sank as low as No. 149 in 1997. Maybe, he surmises, it was the new technology that finally caught up with him. Titanium was the culprit, unlikely as that may seem to you and me.
Like everybody else ' they came out with these graphite shafts, big titanium heads, he said. He also was playing a 44-inch driver, while he now is playing one almost an inch shorter, at 43- inches.
Theres guys that I think have been knocked off the Tour because of that one club, he said at the FedEx. All of these titanium drivers are designed for higher-handicapped players. They are not designed for the good player and the professional. I think some of them are finally beginning to realize that.
But going shorter and heavier is just ' you feel like you cant miss a fairway.
Estes also threatens to make a move that is REAL heresy ' going back to persimmon heads. They dont look too good, but they sure do hit good, he says.
He mentioned Mike Hulbert, whose problems with an erratic driver finally cost him his Tour card. One club can do it to you, he said. Thats the one youre going to spend the most time with as far as the full swing ' the driver.
Estes decided to use one more throwback to get his game untracked ' the 10-finger baseball grip. In his time of desperation, he finally had to consider it. He had tried everything else ' everything. Couldnt he try one thing more?
I just hit the ball so much more solidly that way, Estes said. He resisted, but finally he just did it. He had to wait until he got the driver dilemma straightened out. When he got the war club solved, though, he made the change. One thing he had to do to compensate is to use larger grips. But he found he made a much better swing at the ball than he had using the overlap.
Without going into too much detail, it (the overlap) just didnt work as well for me, he said. I can get into a better setup position and make a better golf swing with the 10-finger grip.
What has followed has been an unending string of scores in the 60s. He finished in a tie for eighth at Air Canada, tied for second in the Canadian Open and tied for fourth in the Texas Open before winning at Las Vegas. Thats $1,358,425 in those last four starts, an average of almost $340,000 a start, and he has ever-so-quietly moved into the ninth spot on the money list.
Tiger hasnt played since the PGA. David Duval hasnt won since the British Open, Phil Mickelson since Hartford. Meanwhile, Estes has grabbed a bundle in the last month, playing a very old-style game ' new head, new grip, new length.
Whats new with him? Nothing. Simply nothing.

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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.