After Further Review: Timing is Everything

By Randall MellApril 28, 2014, 5:50 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the fortuitous timing the LPGA has enjoyed this month, Seung-Yul Noh's bid to match a record that has stood for 40 years, and the role of fun in growing the game of golf, 

Timing never seemed to be the LPGA’s forte. Too often, an LPGA major, or a good women’s story, was overshadowed by a better story in the men’s game, typically a Tiger Woods story. Or some dramatic LPGA finish happened to come on tape delay.

But timing has made this an April to remember for the LPGA. It isn’t just Lexi Thompson opening the month beating Michelle Wie in a Sunday duel at the Kraft Nabisco, or Wie coming from four shots back in the final round last week to win in her Hawaiian home town, or 17-year-old Lydia Ko coming from behind to beat Stacy Lewis on Sunday at the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco. It’s those stories coming in West Coast finishes that give the women prime-time East Coast TV windows. It’s no Tiger Woods shadow falling over them. In fact, there hasn’t really been a PGA Tour story to trump any of them.

I don’t know who is in charge of timing at the LPGA offices, but he/she ought to get a raise.  - Randall Mell

The most amazing thing I saw written this weekend was this, in Ryan Lavner's article after Saturday's third round of the Zurich Classic:

"If he (Seung-Yul Noh) wins in bogey-free fashion, he’d be the first since Lee Trevino in 1974."

What? No one has won a PGA Tour event without making a bogey since Trevino at the 1974 New Orleans Open? (Wow, there's a coincidence.) Trevino shot 21 under that year to stroll to an eight-shot win over Ben Crenshaw and Bobby Cole at Lakewood Country Club. Noh's Sunday bid to match the Merry Mex didn't even last a hole, as he bogeyed No. 1. But that didn't stop him from winning the tournament. And now a lot more people know who Seung-Yul Noh is than did a week ago. And while PGA Tour first-time winners often fade back into obscurity as quickly as they escaped it, I don't think that's going to be the case with Noh, who has won on other tours. And maybe, just maybe, someday he'll make another run at Trevino's mark. After all, records are made to be broken, right? - Al Tays

I went to one of those indoor golf facilities with a few buddies this weekend. We had a blast trying to tame Kiawah's Ocean Course, but it was clear golf nuts like us weren't in the majority of the clientele. When a guy hitting shots in the next simulator over asked me about the difference between two clubs, it took me a minute to realize he literally didn't know a driver from a wedge. And yet, there he was, having a brutal time trying to muscle shots toward the screen -- and smiling the entire time. During an era when so many industry leaders have prioritized growing the game, I can't find any better advertisement for it than a fun, casual setting like this where neophyte golfers can get bit by the bug in a hurry. I'm all for new ideas, whether they include 15-inch holes or combining soccer with golf, but nothing grows the game better than fun. And nowhere are new golfers having more fun learning to play the game than in this type of environment. - Jason Sobel

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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.