Shelton, Niebrugge among last 5 selected to Walker Cup team

By Ryan LavnerAugust 24, 2015, 2:12 am

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – The finals of the U.S. Amateur also brought to an end a two-year race for the U.S. Walker Cup team.

The USGA announced Sunday the remaining five players who will fill out the 10-man squad: Alabama junior Robby Shelton, Oklahoma State senior Jordan Niebrugge, former Virginia standout Denny McCarthy, and mid-amateurs Scott Harvey and Mike McCoy. 

The biennial event will be held Sept. 12-13 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England. 

The U.S. team will convene for the first time Thursday in Latrobe, Pa., where it will meet with Arnold Palmer and address a few housekeeping items such as apparel and travel arrangements.

"I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a team with these great players," captain Spider Miller said Sunday while walking around Olympia Fields. "I've promised them we're going to have fun, and we're going to do it the right way." 

Shelton and Niebrugge were locks to make the team after their performances this summer. Shelton recently tied for third at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship, while Niebrugge, who was on the 2013 team, tied for sixth at the Open Championship. 

McCarthy’s spot seemed to be up for grabs this week at the Amateur, though with the USGA’s secretive selection process no player really knew where he stood.

The USGA almost always selects an American Amateur winner if he isn’t already on the team, and McCarthy’s former teammate and roommate at Virginia, Derek Bard, reached the finals here at Olympia Fields. Bard lost to Bryson DeChambeau, 7 and 6, and was not selected. 

McCarthy represented the U.S. at the World Amateur Team Championship last fall, won the Porter Cup this summer and remained amateur to try and make the team.

Two years ago, the USGA decided that at least two mid-ams (age 25 or older) must make the roster. That rule allowed Harvey, the 37-year-old reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, and McCoy, a 52-year-old with 45 USGA championships of experience, to make their first Walker Cup squads.  

Among the notables who won’t make the trip across the pond: Players Amateur champion Matt NeSmith, NCAA freshman of the year Scottie Scheffler, Wake Forest sophomore Will Zalatoris and former Baylor standout Kyle Jones. 

NeSmith and Scheffler were named the first alternates. 

NCAA Player of the Year Maverick McNealy, three-time U.S. Open participant Beau Hossler, former first-team All-American Hunter Stewart, Georgia standout Lee McCoy and SMU's DeChambeau were the first five players selected. 

“It’s been a two-year process, and I wish I could have taken another six to 10 players,” Miller said. “The field was that good this year.” 

The U.S. leads the overall series, 35-8-1, including a 17-9 victory in 2013 at National Golf Links of America. 

The R&A will announce its 10-man GB&I squad on Monday. 

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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.