Whaley weighs in, supports PGA '100 percent'

By Randall MellOctober 25, 2014, 12:11 am

Prominent PGA of America member Suzy Whaley stepped up as a strong voice for women in the game Friday telling Golf Channel viewers how troubled she was by the controversy Ted Bishop created making sexist remarks as president of the association.

Bishop was removed from his position as PGA president by a vote of the association’s board after he called European Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter a little girl in separate posts on Twitter and Facebook. Bishop’s term as president was scheduled to expire next month. Bishop’s comments about Poulter were a reaction to Poulter’s criticism of Nick Faldo and Tom Watson as Ryder Cup captains in Poulter’s new book, “No Limits,” released this week.

“Obviously, I was extremely disturbed by it,” Whaley said in a live interview on Golf Central. “They were extremely insulting and sexist.”

Whaley, a former member of the PGA board of directors, is running to become the next secretary of the PGA of America, which could put her on track to become the association’s first female president. Whaley made national news in the summer of 2003 when she became the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias 58 years earlier. Whaley qualified to play in the Hartford Open as winner of the Connecticut PGA Championship.

“For me to hear comments that are derogatory about young girls, or insulting, just because you are a girl, is offensive,” Whaley said. “Our board of directors took swift action. The PGA of America finds it quite critical to be inclusive and we will continue to do so moving forward.”

Bishop created the furor by calling Poulter a “Lil Girl” on Twitter. In a separate post on Facebook, Bishop wrote that Poulter “sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess.”

Whaley said those words are at odds with the lessons she learned from PGA members while growing up.

“I was in 100 percent support of the board of directors,” Whaley said. “Our mission is to grow the game of golf, to be inclusive. I am extremely proud of the PGA membership and what I do on a daily basis to include young women and young men from all backgrounds into the game. There are 27,000 of us out there each and every day teaching young men and women, that are changing their lives through the game of golf. I’m so proud of that.

“We need to really empower young women and young girls . . . I was mentored by male PGA professionals, who encouraged me and taught me the game, who taught me life lessons and really wanted me to understand I could do anything, anything in the game of golf, or anything I chose to do in a professional in my life. That came from a male PGA professional.”

Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez was also troubled by Bishop’s comments toward Poulter.

“I was disappointed to hear he said that,” Lopez told GolfChannel.com. “I’ve always believed when you have an issue with someone, you should pick up the phone and call them and deal with them directly, in private.

“As far as the comment about little girls, I don’t think you ought to make any comments like that in reference to little girls. Little girls are sweet. Why even say that?”

There has been no public comment on that matter by the LPGA, and many the women’s game's most important voices have so far been noticeably silent on the topic. Annika Sorenstam had this to say Friday night: "This is an unfortunate episode, but the game of golf must continue its march toward openness and inclusiveness for all."

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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.