Watson stands by decision not to pick Horschel

By Randall MellSeptember 17, 2014, 8:03 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sent a text to Billy Horschel late last week as Horschel was making his run winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in Atlanta.

Watson’s message?

“Billy, you’re a day late, but not a dollar short,” Watson texted.

In a U.S. Ryder Cup teleconference Wednesday, Watson said he had some fun last week texting back and forth with Horschel, who was on Watson’s “radar” early in the year. Watson told Horschel he was looking at him back in February, when they were doing a photo shoot together for a Polo ad.

“I like your golf swing, I like your fundamentals and love the attitude on the golf course,” Watson told him.

Watson followed Horschel throughout this year, but Horschel didn’t make his move until it was too late for serious consideration as one of Watson’s three captain’s picks. Horschel won both his FedEx Cup playoff events after Watson made his picks.­­

“He just didn’t perform well enough to get on the team,” Watson said of Horschel’s record up until the deadline for the picks.

With growing talk that the PGA should move the captain’s picks back until the FedEx Cup playoffs are complete, Watson isn’t in favor of that. It would mean the captain would make his picks a week before the team leaves for the Ryder Cup instead of three weeks before.

“In ’93, I made my two captain’s picks the day after the PGA, six weeks before the Ryder Cup,” Watson said. “Logistically, there are so many different things that go into it, just in getting the players over there and getting ready ... get their families involved, get their families and friends over there. It would be awfully tough to make the decision the week before the Ryder Cup.”

Other points Watson made in his teleconference:

• Europe’s stunning come-from-behind victory at Medinah two years ago didn’t hurt just the Americans on that team.

“When I watched that Sunday, I had a pit in my stomach for several days afterwards,” Watson said. “It just stayed there.”

Watson wants the Americans to take their memory of that loss to Scotland next week as motivation.

“These fellas, many of whom played on that team, remember that like it was yesterday,” Watson said. “I want those players to talk to the players who weren't on that team, and tell them how disappointed they were, and to get them pumped up, and not let that happen again.”

• Watson said he has picked the brains of recent American captains for ideas, including Paul Azinger, who led the U.S. team to its last win six years ago at Valhalla. Azinger famously instituted a “pod system,” linking players in small groups on and off the course.

“The pod system has very beneficial elements to it, and I'll be using it in some modified form in the preparation of this next week,” Watson said.

• Watson was asked if the Europeans have prevailed in seven of the last nine Ryder Cups because they have more skill or more heart.

“I think the bottom line is that over the time, their players have simply played better,” Watson said. “Whether it's a heart issue, I can't determine that, I wasn't on those teams. But I know one thing: To win a Ryder Cup, you've got to have heart. Bottom line, you've got to have heart and you've got to have `never say die’ in you. That's what I've stressed to my players this last year, calling them, being with them. The most important thing is that you go out there and fight and scratch and never give in on any shot in the entire match. You go out there with one purpose in mind, to hit the best possible shot every time you draw the club back.”

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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.