In Search of International Flavor

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 The INTERNATIONALThe International is played on a course elevated a mile high. It employs a scoring system unique to anything else on the PGA Tour. And it is contested the week before a major championship; this year, nearly 2,000 miles away from said major.
 
Yet this years International will have one of its best-ever fields ' even without the top 3 players in the world.
 
Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen finished runner-up in his last International appearance in 2003.
Retief Goosen, Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Davis Love III, Sergio Garcia, Chris DiMarco, Stewart Cink and Stuart Appleby are just a few of the notable names in attendance for this the 20th anniversary of the only tour event to use the modified Stableford scoring system.
 
The system awards 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse.
 
This isnt the ideal tournament to fine tune ones game for next weeks PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., which means these men are in attendance at Castle Rock, Colo., because they share affection for both the tournament and its founder, Jack Vickers.
 
Mickelson is back to pay homage to Vickers and celebrate the events 20th birthday ' and to try and pick up a third career victory.
 
He skipped the event last year for the first time in his professional career in order to get in some extra practice time at Whistling Straits, site of last years PGA Championship.
 
The left-hander won this tournament in 1993 and 1997.
 
Goosen is also back after a brief absence. Goosen was committed to play the tournament a year ago but was forced to withdraw after bruising his hip during a jet-ski accident the week before while on vacation.
 
Similarly, Ernie Els was scheduled to compete this year but was forced to pull out after undergoing surgery on his left knee after injuring it while on a sailing vacation two weeks ago.
 
Unfortunately for Els, who won this event in 2000 with a record-tying 48 points, he will not be able to return to action as soon as Goosen did a year ago. Els is out indefinitely following the surgery, which means he will also be forced to skip the PGA Championship and the Presidents Cup.
 
A healthy Els would have been the favorite for the week. But in his absence ' as well as Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, that honor goes to his countryman.
 
Five for the Title:
 
Retief Goosen
Goosen is over due for a win this season, having yet to record a first-place finish on either the PGA or European tour. He has put himself in position to do so, but has yet to close the deal. Goosen blew a three-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open by shooting 81. He then shot 74 in the final round of the Open Championship, after starting the day just three off the lead. But he looked great in his most recent showing, when he carried partner Mickelson to victory over Tiger Woods and John Daly in the Battle at The Bridges. Goosen, who tied for second in his last appearance at this event in 2003, is looking to join Woods as the only two men with at least one PGA Tour win in each of the last five seasons.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is trying to become the first three-time winner of The International.
Phil Mickelson
Mickelson is one of only two players (Davis Love III) to have twice won this tournament. He initially set the 72-hole scoring record with 48 points in 1997, which was matched by Els three years later. He also has three wins on tour this season. Thats the good news. The bad news is: Mickelson has performed increasingly (or decreasingly) worse since his BellSouth victory prior to the Masters. His last five finishes have been worse than the one before. He was also terribly erratic in the made-for-TV Battle, which was contested on his home course at The Bridges. All things considered, hes still a birdie machine, and aggressive play is rewarded in this format. Mickelson ranks second on tour behind Woods in birdie average, with 4.61 birdies per round.

David Toms
Toms doesnt have the length of a Mickelson, but he still manages to make nearly as many birdies, ranking third on tour in birdies per round. He will be making his first start since disqualifying himself after the first round of the Open Championship. Surprisingly, in his 10 previous starts in this event he has only one top-10; however, that was a victory in 1999.
 
Chris DiMarco
DiMarco looked ready to runaway with this tournament a year ago, when he scored 31 points after the first two days and built a 9-point lead. But he lost 7 points over his final two rounds and settled for a tie for sixth. DiMarco is a streaky player. He started the season strongly, with four top-5s in his first nine starts; however, he has since cooled with no top-10s in his last seven events. He tied for 12th at last week's Buick Open, which means he's getting better, and he could be set for another run. This could be the place; he has three top-6 finishes in his last four starts at Castle Pines.
 
Davis Love III
Love missed the cut in his last start at the Open Championship, but prior to that he had three top-10s in four-tournament stretch. Love is trying to avoid his second consecutive winless season. He won this tournament in 1990 and again in 2003.
 
Playing Out the Font Nine
 
Four more to keep an eye on
 
*Sergio Garcia, who is returning after a one-year absence. Garcia was among the notables to skip this tournament a year ago. In five previous starts, his best finish is a tie for 11th in 2001.
 
*Greg Norman, who has played well recently on the elder circuit. He missed out by a stroke on a playoff in his Champions Tour debut at the Senior British Open. He then finished fourth at last weeks U.S. Senior Open. Norman won this tournament in 1989.
 
*Rod Pampling, who is the defending champion. Pampling, who has four top-10 finishes this season, will be trying to become the first repeat winner in the tournaments history.
 
*David Duval, who will be playing near his residential home in Denver. Duval finished runner-up to Toms in 1999. He will be trying to make his first cut in 13 starts this season.
 
Related Links:
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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.