Haas Kuehne Lead Walker Players
Haas, of Greer, S.C., and Kuehne, of Dallas, Texas, will be joined on the team by Matt Hendrix of Aiken, S.C.; Brock Mackenzie of Yakima, Wash.; Ryan Moore of Puyallup, Wash.; Chris Nallen of Hackettstown, N.J.; Adam Rubinson of Ft. Worth, Texas, and Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn.
Of the eight, only Kuehne has previous Walker Cup experience, having played on the 1995 USA team. The captain of the team is Bob Lewis, 59, of Pepper Pike, Ohio, a four-time Walker Cup team member and three-time USGA championship runner-up.
The 2003 Walker Cup Match will be played at Ganton Golf Club in North Yorkshire, England, Sept. 6-7, against a 10-member team representing Great Britain and Ireland.
Haas, 22, reached the semifinals at the 2002 U.S. Amateur after being the medalist in the 36-hole stroke play portion of the Championship. He won the 2002 Players Amateur, finished seventh and fifth at the 2002 and 2003 Porter Cup tournaments, respectively, and was a quarterfinalist at the 2002 Western Amateur. He shot a second round of 60 at the recent Porter Cup.
A senior at Wake Forest University where he follows in the footsteps of his father, PGA Tour pro Jay Haas, he was a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award, given to the top collegiate golfer for athletic and academic excellence, in 2002 and 2003.
Kuehne, 31, was the low amateur at the 2003 U.S. Open, where he tied for 57th place. There were only 11 rounds better than the 4-under-par 67 he posted in his second round. A career amateur best known for his runner-up finish to Tiger Woods at the 1994 Amateur, Kuehne is an equities stockbroker. His younger brother, Hank, plays on the PGA Tour and his younger sister, Kelli, plays on the LPGA Tour.
Hendrix, 22, was a top member of the Clemson University squad that won the 2003 NCAA Championship and Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. He is heading into his senior season at Clemson. Hendrix has had four top-five finishes in recent major amateur golf events: a victory at the Sunnehanna, a runner-up finish at the Porter Cup, a fourth-place finish at the Monroe Invitational and a fifth place finish at the Rice Planters Amateur.
Mackenzie, 21, has four top-10 finishes over the past year, including a win at the 2002 Pacific Coast Amateur and a fifth place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championships. He also was eighth and sixth at the Northeast Amateur, respectively, in 2002 and 2003. A senior at the University of Washington, he set a school record with his 71.1 stroke average in 2002. He has 15 top-10 career finishes in college, two shy of his school's record.
Moore, 21, was the 2002 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and a quarterfinalist at the 2002 U.S. Amateur. He also qualified for the 2002 U.S. Open and made the cut at the 2003 Masters Tournament. A senior at UNLV, he placed eighth at the 2002 NCAA Championship and 22nd in 2003.
Nallen, 21, has a win at the 2003 Northeast Amateur after a runner-up finish there in 2002. He also finished fourth at the 2002 Porter Cup. A senior at the University of Arizona, he was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award the last two years.
Rubinson, 23, finished second at the 2002 NCAA Championship and the 2002 Western Amateur. A senior at TCU where he was named 2003 Conference USA Player of the Year, he recently finished fifth at the 2003 Northeast Amateur and 10th at the 2003 Sunnehanna.
Wittenberg, 18, is the youngest member of either squad. He earned his place with back-to-back victories in 2003 at the Southern Amateur and the Porter Cup, where he closed with final rounds of 64 and 66 respectively. He also won the 2003 Terra Cotta Invitational and was runner-up at the 2003 Azalea Amateur. He was the 2001 American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Player of the Year. He will attend Oklahoma State University in September.
The final two selections and alternates to the 10-man U.S.A. squad will be named immediately following the U.S. Amateur Championship on Aug. 24. The Walker Cup Match consists of 16 singles and eight foursomes (alternate shot) matches. The Great Britain and Ireland amateur team has won the last two matches, in 1999 and 2001, by identical scores of 15-9. The U.S. leads the series history, 31-6-1.
TEAM ROSTERS FOR THE 2003 WALKER CUP MATCH:
THE UNITED STATES TEAM
Player Age Hometown
Bill Haas 22 Greer, S.C.
Matt Hendrix 22 Aiken, S.C.
Trip Kuehne 31 Dallas, Texas
Brock Mackenzie 21 Yakima, Wash.
Ryan Moore 21 Puyallup, Wash.
Chris Nallen 21 Hackettstown, N.J.
Adam Rubinson 23 Ft. Worth, Texas
Casey Wittenberg 18 Memphis, Tenn.
Note: Two more members for the USA team will be selected following the U.S. Amateur on Aug. 24.
THE GREAT BRITAIN/IRELAND TEAM
Player Age Hometown
Nigel Edwards 34 Caerphilly, Wales
Noel Fox 29 Dublin, Ireland
Graham Gordon 23 Aberdeen, Scotland
David Inglis 21 Roslin, Scotland
Stuart Manley 24 Mountain Ash, Wales
Colm Moriarty 24 Athlone, Ireland
Michael Skelton 19 Redcar, England
Oliver Wilson 22 Mansfield, England
Stuart Wilson 26 Forfar, Scotland
Gary Wolstenholme 42 Market Harborough, England
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.