Mattiace Comes Up Aces at Nissan

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 17, 2002, 5:00 pm
The absence of rain this year on the PGA Tour is nothing short of remarkable, but it pales in comparison to the streak that Len Mattiace was building up.
The PGA Tour pro had toiled for seven years, enduring heartbreak after heartbreak, but couldnt get a victory.
Sunday, the tour broke its streak of no rain at an event in 2002 when it poured briefly, and while the rain was brief, Mattiace is hoping his reign is far longer.
Mattiace broke a 220-tournament drought, shooting a 3-under 68 at Riviera Country Club to win the Nissan Open by a stroke over Scott McCarron, Rory Sabbatini and Brad Faxon.
It appeared early on that this would be another tournament that would cause Mattiace to run to the psychiatrists couch. He was chasing friend McCarron for most of the front nine, but made bogey on the second and fifth hole.
I was very mad, Mattiace said. I felt confident, though, that I could hang in there.
He did, never getting more than three strokes behind McCarron and turning the day around on the 12th hole when he holed out from a bunker as McCarron made bogey.
I didnt want to force anything, Mattiace said. I thought that was a big hole, however.
McCarron had the third-round lead, but was watching the tournament slip away from him. By the time the two got to 18 they were tied, and while Mattiace played conservatively, McCarron went at the pin.
I wanted to win the tournament, McCarron said. I wasnt thinking playoff.
He didnt have to worry about it. His approach shot went to the left in the kikuyu rough and left him a tricky up and down. He tried to hit his third shot with his putter, but the ball snagged in the rough and barely trickled on the green, leaving him with a seven-foot putt.
Ive putted out of the kikuyu forever, McCarron said. But I missed the second putt totally.
Mattiace safely two-putted from 30-feet for his first victory on the PGA Tour.
Scott is a good friend and you dont want to see someone make a mistake like that, Mattiace said. Winning, though, is a better feeling than I thought it would be.
He certainly knew how tough losing was. In 1997, he had the lead going into the final round of the Walt Disney Classic and shot a 74 and lost by two strokes. A year later, he was a stroke behind Justin Leonard with two holes to go at The Players Championship, but his tee shot on the 17th island hole went in the water and he tied for fifth. In 1999, he finished second at the Sony Open and in 2000 he was third at the Tampa Bay Classic.
The final day at Disney was tough to take, Mattiace said. Those experiences you always draw from and learn from them.
McCarron learned that Sunday.
I went into the locker room and it was like I had the plague, McCarron said. No one would talk to me. Basically Im laughing at myself. It was my tournament to win.
Full-field scores from the Nissan Open
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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.