Horschel bogey-free, leads BMW by 3

By Will GraySeptember 6, 2014, 9:58 pm

After blowing a chance to win on the 72nd hole last week at TPC Boston, Billy Horschel is showing no signs of a letdown. Here's how things stand after three rounds at the BMW Championship, where Horschel holds a three-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Billy Horschel (-13), Ryan Palmer (-10), Martin Kaymer (-8), Bubba Watson (-8), Rickie Fowler (-7), Sergio Garcia (-6), Jordan Spieth (-5), Jim Furyk (-5)

What it means: Horschel  has only one career win, but he is known to get hot for weeks at a time and has carried his momentum from last week's runner-up at the Deutsche Bank Championship to this week at Cherry Hills. He'll take the role of leader into the final round, while Palmer - another player in contention a week ago - will look to chase him down, as both seek their first win of the season.

Round of the day: Morgan Hoffmann barely snuck into the field this week at No. 68 in the FedEx Cup standings, but he made a big move up the leaderboard with an 8-under 62. Hoffmann briefly scared golf's magic number of 59, but even after playing his last six holes in even par he moved up 43 spots in the standings and gave himself a chance to make the Tour Championship after starting the playoffs at No. 124 in the points race.

Best of the rest: Horschel made it around Cherry Hills without a bogey, notching birdies on Nos. 1 and 8 before making three circles across four holes on Nos. 14-17 to move into the lead. He added a final birdie on the home hole, draining a putt from 32 feet, to shoot a 7-under 63 and take command of the event with one round to go.

Biggest disappointment: Garcia entered the day with a one-shot lead, but he now faces a seven-shot deficit after shooting a 2-over 72. Garcia needed only 21 putts in the second round, but his magic ran out on the greens at Cherry Hills, as the Spaniard missed four putts inside 5 feet. (Dis)honorable mention goes to Rory McIlroy, whose 72 included a four-putt triple bogey on No. 12.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: After a flawless third round, this appears to be Horschel's event to lose, as he leads the elite field in putting just a few days after his chances to win at TPC Boston disappeared into the hazard on the final hole. Should Horschel stumble again, Watson has the length to conquer Cherry Hills, while Palmer is eager to show captain Tom Watson that he should have been considered for the Ryder Cup squad.

Shot of the day: Horschel appeared ready to polish off a 64 with a two-putt par before dropping a final bomb on the 18th hole to briefly extend his lead to four shots. It was his seventh birdie of the day, and third made putt of more than 20 feet.

Quote of the day: "You can't dwell on it. There's bigger things in life than hitting a fat 6-iron into the hazard." - Horschel, on his 72nd-hole approach shot last week at TPC Boston.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.