Casey leads by three at Deutsche Bank Championship

By Will GraySeptember 4, 2016, 9:52 pm

Paul Casey only has one PGA Tour win to his credit, but he's in position to add to that total at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Here's how things look entering the final round at TPC Boston, where the Englishman leads by three shots:

Leaderboard: Paul Casey (-15), Brian Harman (-12), Kevin Chappell (-11), Smylie Kaufman (-11), Jimmy Walker (-11), Ryan Moore (-10)

What it means: Casey began the day one shot behind Chappell, but he moved to the top of the standings with his third straight round of 5-under 66 that included a tap-in eagle on the final hole. Seven years removed from his lone Tour title, Casey is now in prime position to end his victory drought while three of his closest competitors - Harman, Chappell and Kaufman - have combined for two career wins on the PGA Tour.

Round of the day: Louis Oosthuizen made the day's biggest move, carding a bogey-free 64 that vaulted him into the top 10. Oosthuizen birdied four straight holes from Nos. 2-5, then added three more on his inward half. After beginning the second round near the cut line, the South African is now tied for seventh at 9 under, six shots behind Casey.

Best of the rest: Scott Brown barely snuck into this week's field at No. 98 in the FedEx Cup race, but a third-round 65 gave him a chance to play his way into the top 70 for next week's BMW Championship. Brown birdied three of his first five holes and made it around TPC Boston without dropping a shot. At 7 under, he's tied for 20th and now projected to No. 72 in the points race.

Biggest disappointment: Walker began the day one shot off the lead, but the PGA champion faltered out of the gates en route to a 1-under 70. Walker bogeyed two of his first three holes before making the turn in 1-over 37, and despite a closing birdie he now trails Casey by four shots heading into the final round.

Main storyline heading into Monday: After a stirring close to his third round, Casey is officially the player to watch. His choice to rescind his European Tour membership meant the Englishman wasn't eligible for a European Ryder Cup pick earlier this week, but a victory Monday would vault him toward the top of the FedEx Cup race and lend great validation to his decision to focus his efforts on the PGA Tour.

Shot of the day: Rory McIlroy authored one of the day's biggest highlights when he nearly holed out for an albatross on the par-5 18th hole. McIlroy's final approach from 209 yards trickled toward the hole and lipped out, setting up a kick-in eagle that closed out a 5-under 66 to move McIlroy into a tie for seventh.

Quote of the day: "There's a reason I live in Arizona, to avoid that kind of stuff." - Casey on a weather forecast that calls for inclement conditions and high winds for Monday's finale.

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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.