Lewis hopes familiar venue will lead to first win of 2015

By Randall MellMay 28, 2015, 6:15 pm

Stacy Lewis is starting an important summer push into some of the year’s biggest events at a venue this week that has been very good to her.

Lewis will tee it up Friday at the ShopRite Classic looking for her first victory of 2015. She’s doing so at a site that has been home to two of her 11 LPGA career titles. She won last year at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club and also won there in 2012.

“I just like this golf course because it’s kind of old school, just the way golf was made to be played,” Lewis said in her pretournament news conference.

Lewis won the 54-hole event in a six-shot rout last year. The victory allowed Lewis to ascend to No. 1 in the world for the second time in her career. She took back the top spot from Inbee Park and held it for 21 weeks before Park took it back again late last year.

“The first couple times I played here, I honestly hated it,” Lewis said of the Seaview Bay Course. “I was like, `This golf course is terrible.’ But once you take a chance to really get to know it and really learn the little bounces, learn where to hit to certain pins, that’s the huge advantage.”

The women’s season is about to heat up with three major championships scheduled over the next nine weeks.

“I took some time off last week and didn’t play as much golf as I normally do just because of the business of this stretch and to really get ready for these next few weeks,” Lewis said. “I’ve talked all year about how the summertime is when you want to be playing your best golf. That's when we have our biggest events, the most number of events. So this, really, for a lot of people, and for me, is a kick start into the rest of the year.”

Lewis isn’t the only player pacing herself. Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko is taking this week off after last week’s break in the schedule. Ko appeared to be feeling the effects of a busy run leading into the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She played five of six weeks leading into the ANA and ended up tying for 51st there, her lowest finish this season. Lewis felt the same challenge finishing last season’s run that ended with her sweeping the Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy for low scoring average and money title.

“The last few years, I get to about August, and I'm exhausted,” Lewis said. “It’s usually around the Canadian Open, where I have no energy left. And so I've really tried to plan my schedule out better to take weeks off and to go do other things.  I took [last] weekend off, spent Memorial Day and everything with my family. You have to do that stuff. It's just shut it down, put the clubs away.”

Lewis is playing well but has been frustrated trying to claim her first victory this year. She has finished second three times and third once. She has top-10 finishes in seven of 10 starts this year.

“I'm not too concerned,” Lewis said. “I'm doing a lot of really good things right now. A couple of those tournaments I'd like to have won, but that's golf. It’s getting harder and harder to win out here.  There are some amazing players right now. I’ve just got to keep doing what I'm doing because obviously there's nothing wrong with it.”

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.