Old vs New at First LPGA Major

By George WhiteMarch 27, 2006, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Cal. - Womens golf is all about the new breed ' think Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Lorena Ochoa, Christina Kim and any one of a dozen impressive young Asian players. All are under 25 and all have incredibly bright futures in the game.
 
But as the youngsters begin preparation for the Kraft Nabisco Championship this week ' the first major of the season - the older ladies are watching intently. In fact, one won the last LPGA tournament ' the Safeway International. At 45-year-old Juli Inkster isnt ready to concede the stage to the youngsters just yet. She herself has an 11-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old daughter. Fifteen is nearly the age of some of the girls she must try to beat each week.
 
Inksters win was her 31st, the first coming way back in 1983. She knows the young women coming up are the new guard, the ones who will replace her and Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel and, yes, even Annika Sorenstam in the LPGA penthouse one day. But shes just not quite ready to step down, not as long as she can win as impressively as she did at the Safeway.
 
All I know is I'm glad I'm at the tail end of my career and not just starting, Inkster said. It's a different era.
 
When I was growing up, we played a lot of golf but we just kind of played. Now all of these girls have coaches 24/7, they have video equipment, they have all the modern technology, everybody does stuff, and they all just have beautiful swings, no little hitches in their giddy yups. You know, they are born to play golf.
 
Juli Inkster and Morgan Pressel
Juli Inkster and her protg pose with Lost star Terry O'Quinn at last month's SBS Open.
Inkster has a special relationship with one of the young women - Morgan Pressel. The LPGA has a big sister program whereby the rookies are assigned one of the older players to make the transition to the big time a little easier. Inkster has been charged with Pressels future.
 
The rookies, though, are extremely young, starting with Pressel, whos only 17 years of age.
 
Probably half of them don't even know who I am, said Inkster, laughing. Probably none of them - but that's OK, I know I did it.
 
They all know, of course, who Juli Inkster is. She won this Kraft Nabisco tournament in 1989. And should they forget momentarily, Juli has her way of reminding them.
 
I put them in their place; tell them to clean my shoes,' Inkster said, laughing again.
 
Inksters pal Mallon is 42 now and has been around since 1987. Mallon is awed by the era she is living in now, watching the young ones do such impressive things on the golf course.
 
It's actually been fantastic, says Mallon. This is my 19th year on tour and it's probably been one of the most fun years as far as watching how the tour has developed. A lot of great young players have come up that not only have game but have personalities, a lot of drive and passion for the tour. That's just kind of carrying over to everybody else.

It's really been enjoyable this year to see players like Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim - I can't name them all off the top of my head. But certainly it's been a fun presence out here. You'll see it this week. You'll see the energy on that golf course. It's really put an energy and a lift into our tour.
 
The kiddie brigade actually brings a certain energy to their older sisters that Inkster and Mallon both have experienced. And, both have benefited by it.
 
It's great. I love it, said Inkster. I enjoy competing with the best players. It's good to see the young players coming up and playing well. You know, it's incredible how golf has just gotten so huge. These girls, some of them are my daughter's age and others are 18, 19, 20 and out here playing.

But I'm glad I'm at the tail end and not starting, that's for sure. I enjoy what I do and I love to play.
 
Forty-six-year-old Rosie Jones looked at the young crop last year and was herself extremely impressed.
 
There's just so many great players, she said. There's just lots of great players out here, and the modern great players are our younger players right now that have a lot of responsibility to take this Tour to its new heights.
 
Part of it is playing great, part of it is taking the responsibility as professionals and doing the other part, to go there. And hopefully, they're going to be there to do that.
 
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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.