Rose leads Stenson by 1 going into final round

By Nick MentaAugust 13, 2016, 7:35 pm

Thanks to a round of 6-under 65 and not one but two eagles, Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson into the final round of the Olympic men's golf tournament. Here's where things stand through 54 holes in Rio de Janeiro:

Leaderboard: Rose (-12), Stenson (-11), Marcus Fraser (-9), Bubba Watson (-6), David Lingmerth (-6), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Padraig Harrington (-5), Matt Kuchar (-5), Gregory Bourdy (-5), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-5) 

What it means: Rose is looking for his 16th career victory and the first gold medal awarded for golf in 112 years. The 2013 U.S. Open champion has at least one worldwide win in each of the last six years and is looking for his first of 2016. A victory Sunday would give him at least one win on each of the six playable continents. He'll face a stiff test from Henrik Stenson, who teamed with Rose in the 2014 Ryder Cup to go an undefeated 3-0-0 and set a record for birdies in a single fourballs match, with 12 as a team and 21 combined. Stenson is less than a month removed from his historic triumph at The Open and has worked himself to third place or better through 54 holes in four of his last five events. The only golfer to win a gold medal and a major championship is Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won two gold medals in track and field in the 1932 Summer Olympics before turning to golf and winning 10 women's majors. Playing with Rose and Stenson in the final group will be Marcus Fraser, the the 18- and 36-hole leader who was sixth on the Australian Olympic list. Thanks to the withdrawals of Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones, Fraser is in line for a medal. As he tries to hunt down Rose, Stenson and the gold medal, he'll face pressure from the players behind him who are looking to snag bronze or better.

Round of the day: Rickie Fowler kept saying he was "close," and he proved it Saturday, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64. Four under through his first eight holes, Fowler posted the first 29 in Olympic history when this approach from 73 yards at the par-4 ninth found the hole.

Fowler looked like he has about to go on 59 watch when he added another birdie at 10 to reach 7 under, but that's when his momentum slowed. Playing the hardest stretch of the course, Fowler parred Nos. 11-13 before backing up with birdies at 14 and 15. Two closing birdies on his final two holes got him to 3 under for the week and in position for, as he put it, a "backdoor medal."

Best of the rest: Rose took the outright lead with a round of 6-under 65 that featured two eagles in his first five holes. Following a birdie at 1 and a bogey at 2, Rose pitched in for a 2 on No. 3 and rolled in an 18-footer for 3 at the par-5 fifth.

He added three more birdies and a bogey on his back nine to take a one-shot advantage over Stenson heading into Sunday.

Biggest disappointment: Playing in the final group with Fraser and Stenson, Thomas Pieters' too-colorful scorecard included four birdies, four bogeys and three doubles for for a 6-over 77. Just one back to start the day, he'll enter the final round nine behind Rose.

Shot of the day: Following in Rose's footsteps, South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl recorded the second hole-in-one in Olympic history with an ace from 173 yards at the par-3 8th.

Gaffe of the day: With a look at birdie from about 40 feet at the par-4 14th, Watson somehow duffed a putt. Watson explained after the round that some mud had rubbed off his putter and onto his ball and that he was unable to stop his putter head in time.

Quote of the day: "Mud ball, for sure," - Watson on what happened at 14, to the delight of those on social media

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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.