After Further Review: Kirk's Ryder Cup future

By Randall Mell, Rex HoggardMay 25, 2015, 12:28 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Chris Kirk's Ryder Cup future, Colin Montgomerie winning another senior major, and a Memorial Day weekend tradition, the Patriot Cup.

With his victory Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, Chris Kirk keeps moving up in class. That's three PGA Tour titles now over the last two seasons. Only Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker have won more in that span. Kirk, who just turned 30, also had it going three weeks ago at The Players Championship, where he was the 54-hole leader before falling back into a tie for 13th. He's no longer a bubble boy on the qualifying lists to make American international teams. Eight months after being skipped over as a captain's pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, he leaps to fourth on the U.S. Presidents Cup points list. That event later this year will give Kirk a chance to show he didn't just belong on the last American Ryder Cup team but that he can be a difference in future Ryder Cups. - Randall Mell 

He spent all that time as the most prominent player to never win a major and now he has three of them. Sort of.  Colin Montgomerie won his third Champions Tour major and his second consecutive Senior PGA on Sunday at French Lick. He holed his final putt, took off his hat, cracked a smile, shook hands with Bernhard Langer and soaked in another major win. Monty’s adversarial relationship with American crowds goes back a long way, but he’s received plenty of support on the senior circuit. He’s been as happy to embrace them as they’ve been to embrace him. There has to be some part of Montgomerie that thinks, “This isn’t the same,” but it’s probably still pretty good. - Nick Menta

Former U.S. Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill stood in a steady drizzle on Sunday in the hills just outside Tulsa, Okla., talking about the mission. No, not the mission where he shot al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but the Folds of Honor mission and this weekend’s Patriot Cup. The event – born from Patriot Golf Day and a half-dozen other initiatives to provide educational benefits for spouses and children of military members who have been killed or disabled while on active duty – includes PGA Tour professionals, celebrities and, most importantly, current and former members of the military. It’s also a moving example of what golf can accomplish, regardless of the score. - Rex Hoggard 

A season of near-misses continues for Kevin Kisner. Kisner lost in a playoff last month at the RBC Heritage, then lost again in sudden death at The Players Championship. A win in either event would have gotten the veteran into the biggest tournaments of the year. Instead, Kisner teed it up at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in need of a big result, and he tied for fifth. While at the start of the week that seemed enough to earn a spot in the U.S. Open, Kisner ended the week at No. 61 - while the top 60 in the rankings punched tickets to Chambers Bay. Kisner is among the hottest players on Tour, and he could still make the field via sectional qualifying on June 8 or by cracking the top 60 on June 15. Kisner doesn't have a spot yet in the U.S. Open, but based on his recent play it seems he is likely to grab a spot in the coming weeks. - Will Gray

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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.