Rebounding from the Masters on Hilton Head

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Verizon HeritageComing off the year's first major, the PGA TOUR heads to Hilton Head Island for the Verizon Heritage as it has every year after the Masters since 1983.
The Verizon Heritage has gone through several name changes over the years, but it dates back to 1969 when Arnold Palmer won the initial event.
Davis Love III and Jim Furyk
Davis Love and Jim Furyk will be battling it out at Harbour Town Golf Links. (WireImage)
North Carolina native Davis Love III has owned this event. Despite a tie for 47th last year, he has ruled this event having played here every year since turning professional in 1986.
Love has won this title five times and has 11 top-10s in 21 starts. He has carded 56 of 75 rounds at par or better at Harbour Town.
Last year an Australian ruled the day. Aaron Baddeley shared the lead entering the final round with former U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk. During an up-and-down round, Baddeley led by two through five, but fell two behind Furyk after 11 holes.
Baddeley rallied with birdies on 14 and 15, two of the hardest holes at Harbour Town, to grab the lead for good. He sank a 6-footer for par at the last to hold off Furyk and claim his first PGA TOUR crown.
Zach Johnson might not be feeling any pain this week after picking up the green jacket Sunday at the Masters, but only Bernhard Langer has followed up a win at Augusta with a victory here.
Following the year's first major, just six of the top-20 players in the world are competing this week led by world No. 2 Jim Furyk. Johnson, who soared to No. 15 in the world with the Masters win, is scheduled to play.
The GOLF CHANNEL opens with three hours of coverage the first two rounds before handing off to the CBS team for the final two rounds.
The PGA TOUR heads to Louisiana next week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Chris Couch chipped in for par on the final hole there last year to earn the win. He is expected to defend his title at the TPC Louisiana.
But, as for this week, here are our five favorites for the Verizon Heritage:
Jim Furyk
Coming off a tie for 13th at Augusta, Furyk returns to Hilton Head with an axe to grind. Although he is without a win in eight career starts, he has posted three straight top-10 finishes, including back-to-back runner-ups the past two years. Known as a shot-makers course, the layout at Harbour Town Golf Links sets up well for the world's No. 2 player.
Davis Love III
The King of Hilton Head will be playing in his 22nd straight Verizon Heritage, a streak that began back in 1986 when it was known as the Sea Pines Heritage Classic. It took Love just one try before grabbing his first victory in the event. He has since racked up another four wins, becoming one of a handful of players to win the same PGA TOUR event five times.
Aaron Baddeley
Aaron Baddeley was the second straight Aussie to win at the Heritage last year. (WireImage)
Aaron Baddeley
With his win here last year, young Aussie Baddeley finally joined the ranks of winners on the PGA TOUR after showing such promise as a rookie back in 2003. He followed up fellow Aussie Peter Lonard's win in '05 to join Lonard and Greg Norman as the only Australian champions. He currently ranks in the top-10 on TOUR in putting and in birdie average.
Stephen Ames
Ames has had a couple of strong performances the last two years he's played in Hilton Head with a tie for sixth in '05 and a tie for seventh the year prior. He is starting to become more of a regular on the leaderboard following his huge win at last season's PLAYERS Championship. Ames had a good run at the WGC - Match Play Championship and posted a top-10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Stewart Cink
The 34-year-old Cink comes in with an outstanding record at Harbour Town, notching a pair of victories and two other top-10s in just seven starts. He defeated Ted Purdy in a marathon playoff that lasted five holes before Cink made birdie to win it back in '04. He's one of eight players to have won this tournament on multiple occasions, also doing so in 2000.
Here are four other players to look out for in Hilton Head:
Vaughn Taylor
Taylor gave it a good run in his native Augusta, Ga., last week, tying for 10th. He will be in search of his third career TOUR win this week, and his first outside of Las Vegas. Taylor opened in 63 here last year and closed in 66 on his way to a tie for third.
Justin Rose
The Englishman tied for fifth at the Masters, having held a share of the lead after the first round and having had a great chance to win on Sunday. Fifteen times now he has finished inside the top 5 in a TOUR event, but he has yet to break through with a win. In three Heritage starts, his best finish is a tie for seventh in 2004. Hes one of the better putters on TOUR, currently second in putts per green hit in regulation.
Billy Mayfair
Mayfair has played this tournament every year since 1989. He had only one top-10 over his first 12 starts at Harbour Town, but has three top-5s over his last six appearances. He tied for third a year ago, matching his best finish on TOUR in 2006.
Scott Verplank
Verplank is one of the most consistent players on TOUR, despite not having won since 2001. He has finished in the top 50 on the money list each of the last seven seasons. Now if he can just get that victory. Verplank has three top-10 finishes in the last six years at Harbour Town.
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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.'"

    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."

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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.