Micheels Love Story
Micheel plays in the Target World Challenge ' Tiger Woods tournament ' this weekend. His wife, Stephanie, will probably skip work as a family law attorney to accompany him. The two of them will exchange glances across the Sherwood Country Club fairways ' as they always do during the six or seven times a year when she accompanies him. It was those quiet glances that got him through the toughest week of his career four months ago.
She was at the PGA, and what really got me through the last day was that I tried to find her every single hole, Micheel was saying at the recent Franklin Templeton Shootout. I only saw her about once or twice, but between shots
You know, theres so much time in between ' so much time to think about what could happen, what might happen, whatever. But I really tried to find her throughout the whole day. And it just kept me more focused.
Because when she leaves their home and her practice in Memphis, Micheel knows it will be a special week. She cant travel all the time, so he savors the days she spends with him at his workplace. Its a special time, and Shaun goes out of his way to make Stephanie feel special.
When shes out with me, I really try to pay attention ' make sure she knows where the first tee is its just nice to have somebody to go to dinner with. Its nice not to sit there and have to talk about golf every single minute, said Micheel.
I certainly make an effort to find her and talk to her during the round ' and she loves being out there. Were playing 4 -5 hour rounds, it gets a little monotonous sometimes. But its a little break for her ' like I say, I love having her out.
Her job ' shes only missed one sick day in seven years ' makes it difficult for Stephanie to travel. That doesnt make for a good lifestyle when you have a job that requires you to constantly be away from home ' as Shaun does. Both knew that he was going to be a professional golfer from the beginning. Micheel admits there were times of doubt about the wedding ' he didnt know if they were going to be able to handle the constant separation.
Marriage was tough on me in the beginning because I wasnt sure how Stephanie was going to handle my time away from home, he said. She has a career, very independent, very goal-oriented, and Im so proud to have her. And I do love having her around.
Stephanie finds it very difficult to accept the conditions of Shauns occupation. I dont think she enjoys my lifestyle ' traveling every week and Sundays packing up, checking another hotel, he said.
I know that there are a lot of wives out here that do that, and a lot of the children out here are home-schooled. But for me ' I dont think that would work very well for our relationship. What her goals were in college ' being an attorney and everything ' I would hate to see her give that up.
On Nov. 20, the two of them became a threesome. Dade Palmer Micheel was born at 2 in the afternoon. Shaun was thrilled ' and regardless of how much the baby wakes up at night, Micheel Sr. is going to sleep better now. Ten days before the baby was born, Shaun explained why his nights have been pretty sleepless.
I used to lie in bed and think about the golf course, what score I was going to shoot the next day, he said. Thats been replaced with what were going to name the child.
So now there are three. Micheel has another love his life to go along with Stephanie. Ive always loved kids, Shaun said.
But again, theres this career thing. The life of a golfer doesnt make for a good father ' in most instances. He just hopes he can be an exception.
I have had some friends of mine over the years who have had kids, he said, and maybe they have been a little bit distracted. Golf is a little bit of a selfish sport in that its just you out there. I felt a few years ago that I wasnt ready for children, just because I felt that might take away from what I was trying to do.
Micheel has his major championship trophy now, but he has something a whole lot more important. He has a wife, and now he also has a son. Nothing else really matters.
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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.