Watson a Regular at 2003 Majors

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
For the eighth time this year, Tom Watson begins a major Thursday. Four times it has been on the Champions Tour where he has competed against men his own age. Three have been on the regular tour, against some opponents who less than were half his age.
 
He has one more to go after this week ' the JELD-WEN Tradition on the Champions Tour. But that is two weeks away. For the moment he is concentrating on the PGA Championship ' even though he is playing against the kids. That fact hasnt bothered Watson this year. He finished in a tie for 28th in one regular-tour major this year, the U.S. Open; and tied for 18th in another, the British Open.
 
It was no decision, said Watson. It was just the way the cards fell.
 
Really, the only issue here was one of the tournaments in the middle part that I didn't play last year that I decided to play this year. I didn't play a lot of tournaments the first three or four months of the year. I had two really long breaks there, a couple three-week breaks and a couple two-week breaks, until the first of June, and then I knew the summer was going to be a very, very busy summer.
 
I didn't know how busy. I didn't know I was going to be in the U.S. Open or the PGA. So that certainly changed a lot of what happened this summer.
 
Actually, the results of the U.S. Open and the British Open are the best they have been since long before he became eligible for the Champions Tour. In 1994, he finished in a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open and a tie for ninth in the PGA. Of course, he was 43 then, and 53 now.
 
Quite simply, he has improved substantially the past year or so. He won the Senior British Open this year, the week after his tie for 18th at the regular British Open. And he finished second at the U.S. Senior Open and the Ford Senior Players Championship.
 
Why do you get better as you get older? he asked rhetorically. Very simply, you eliminate the things that don't work and you find your fundamental rhythm. If I had really worked on my rhythm a little bit more than my swing as a youngster, I think I would have been a better player.
 
But obviously, just like any kid, I wanted to hit the ball as far as I could and that's how it developed into a fast swing. I'm not looking back on it because I feel that that change I made 12 years ago was the right thing to do. Just like playing golf, the money we made 30 years ago versus the money we're making now. I don't look back on it and wish I was there.
 
Of course, the main reason for Watsons improved play is probably his improved putting. For the longest time after he turned professional, he was one of the games most brilliant putters. The past 10 years, he has gone downhill to where he acknowledged his woes repeatedly. But this year, almost magically, he rediscovered the old magic.
 
As your putter goes, so does your game and so does your attitude, he said. He currently stands sixth on the Champions Tour putting statistics, so obviously his attitude is very good.
 
As much as this season has been about Tom Watson, however, it has been just as much about his caddie, Bruce Edwards. Edwards was diagnosed with Lou Gehrigs Disease (ALS) this year, and the diagnosis hit Watson with a full body blow. Watson has been doing everything possible to raise charitable donations to combat the disease.
 
As far as Bruce's condition is concerned, he's basically holding in there, getting a little bit worse as far as his disease is concerned, as is the path of the disease, Watson said. It (ALS) takes you down slowly but surely, and he's trying this week ' he's in the Bahamas trying a therapy that's supposed to arrest the deterioration of his motor neurons. That can be encouraging.
 
But what was really encouraging, this past week it was publicized that a new way of getting an insulin-like growth factor directly to the spinal cord, to be technical about it, has been achieved in mouse studies, and that would be the biggest jump in the treatment for ALS that we have seen in basically the history of and the treatment of it. So we are getting closer there.
 
In fact, Edwards condition has propelled Watson to new heights this year as he tries desperately to win for his longtime caddie.
 
When you have somebody that is close to you like Bruce, that becomes a priority in your life rather than just about anything else, Watson began. I think that his spirit of being able to deal with it has been wonderful.
 
As you said right from the beginning, he's just going to carry on and try to do the things that Bruce and that Marcia, his wife, have designated for him to do. The one good thing about it from a spiritual standpoint, he has hope that the things he is doing are going to make him well.
 
The history of this disease says you can't believe in that, but just to see him believe in that, gives me hope. And the golf ' the golf is just a sidelight of it, of what I do. When I'm out on the golf course, yeah, I get upset when I don't play well, but not as upset as before. And that's how it's affected me.
 
Watson, incidentally got a beautiful surprise this week. He has played a couple of practice rounds with a new caddie. But as he was walking along the fairways Tuesday, suddenly a man appeared who wanted to tell Watson something.
 
He said, Tom, I'd like to give this for Bruce,' Watson recalled.
 
Then the gentleman pressed an envelope containing a $1,000 check into Watsons hands.
 
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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.