Goosen On The Loose In Germany
Goosen, the 33-year-old ranked fourth in the world, started his round on the back nine and quickly preceded to birdie four of his first six holes.
Currently second on the European Order of Merit, Goosen tallied seven birdies for the day, but also carded two bogeys on the eighth and 15th holes. However, he erased the two bogeys when he chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th to close out his scoring for the day.
'Obviously, I'm keen to regain the title,' said Goosen, referring to the Order of Merit. 'It all depends what Ernie does, but there's a chance for me.'
Leaney, who had a strong sixth-place showing last week, got off to a solid start but really heated up at the turn. Birdies on 10, 11, 12, and 13 got him to 6-under, and another on the 15th forged a tie at the top with Goosen.
'It was nice to hole some putts,' said Leaney, a three-time winner on the European Tour. 'I got off to a good start and kept it going. I hit a lot of good iron shots and most of my putts were 12-18 feet. Had two-putt birdies on the 13th and 15th. Just a good solid day.'
His last win at the 2000 TNT Open had started to to become a distant memory. But Leaney knocked home a birdie on the closing hole to gain the outright, and overnite, lead at 8-under. He'll be hoping to duplicate Robert Karlsson's wire-to-wire win at last week's European Tour stop.
Mark Pilkington of Wales had eight birdies with a lone bogey and carded a 7-under 65 and a share of second place with Goosen.
Gary Evans, who made headlines with his wild finish at this year's British Open, is one of 10 players three behind the leader at 5-under. His finish today was anything but wild as he parred the last seven holes, and eight of the nine coming in.
Also at 5-under is European Ryder Cupper Thomas Bjorn, who nearly aced the par-3 11th as his tee shot rolled six inches past the cup.
American Rich Beem, the newly-crowned PGA champion, played his first round on continental Europe and shot a 1-under 71. He birdied four of his first seven holes, but a couple of bogeys and a double bogey left him seven off the pace.
Last week's winner in Switzerland, Robert Karlsson, continued his good play in getting to 5-under-par through 17, but an unfortunate bogey on his last hole dropped him back to 4-under and a share for 14th.
Four-time winner of the event - and co-promoter - Bernhard Langer enjoyed another good start and kept the leader in his sights with a 4-under 68.
Ernie Els, playing alongside host Langer, posted a 3-under 69 despite a bogey on the opening hole.
Full-field scores from Linde German Masters
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.