Kaymer in contention to win second PGA at Whistling

By Mercer BaggsAugust 16, 2015, 12:30 am

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – It’s different this time. There are the obvious reasons. He’s now a major champion, two-fold. He’s a Players champion. He’s a former world No. 1 and a Ryder Cup hero.

But there is something Martin Kaymer knows now that he didn’t know back then.

“The funny thing is that you think he's won two or three majors here or there and he knows how to handle (the last) three or four holes. But every situation is so different. Because every time you play a different golf course, you play against someone different, and you can't really prepare for it,” Kaymer said.

Welcome back to the unknown, Martin Kaymer.

Thanks to a 7-under 65 Saturday, Kaymer is in contention to win a third major championship and a second Wanamaker trophy at Whistling Straits.

Kaymer trailed by four strokes through 54 holes five years ago at this event. He was tied with two players, three more in front. This time around, he trails by four shots; with four players ahead of him.

"I’m just glad that I put myself in a position to maybe have a chance tomorrow," Kaymer said. "The last round, so much can happen."

And that’s what Kaymer now understands. That a resume will not reduce shots on Sunday. That he is as susceptible to nerves as every other player, decorated or otherwise.

PGA Championship: Full-field scores

However …

“Winning big tournaments in America, in Europe, the Ryder Cup, all those memories and all those experience – how you feel as a player when you're in those critical situations under a lot of pressure, you learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about how you handle the pressure situations,” he said.

And it’s all that experience and success that Kaymer will use to embolden his bid for a second comeback victory in as many tries at Whistling Straits.

Duplicating his third-round performance will be difficult. Kaymer said he and playing competitor Branden Grace fed off of one another, not willing to let the other pull ahead. Grace nipped him by a stroke with a bunker hole-out at the last.

“It's a funny feeling when you play with someone that is playing as great as I played today, even better on a lot of the other holes,” Kaymer said.

“I never thought about when people always say, is it nice to play with someone who is playing great or is it more difficult because you always feel like you're one behind? But today was one of those things you really don't want to lose too many shots. You keep going, you keep going, and that's what Branden and me did today.”

Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson in a three-hole aggregate playoff in 2010. But as Kaymer lamented in his pre-championship news conference, the primary focus was on Dustin Johnson’s bunker gaffe.

“If I would win again, hopefully in a more regular way that there’s not much happening on the 18th hole,” Kaymer said.

He’ll just have to make up four shots, hope no one ahead of him outplays him, and handle the unknown.

Five years ago, Kaymer thought a man with multiple majors would be at ease in his current position. “Just a daily business, on a little bit higher scale," he figured. The situation, the victory, the spoils - it's huge for those who haven't experienced it all.

But now he understands.

“It is always huge (for player),” he said, “and I didn't realize it back then.”

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.