Nelson Attracts the Big Four

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
04 EDS Byron Nelson ClassicFor the second straight week the PGA Tours biggest names will tee it up in the same event. And this week, Ernie Els will join the action as well. The Byron Nelson Championship marks just the fourth time this year that Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Els and Phil Mickelson will play in the same field.
 
They will be joined by three other players in the top 10 in Retief Goosen, Chris DiMarco and the defending champion Sergio Garcia.
 
The star power in this field may help extend two current trends on the 2005 PGA Tour schedule: Big names cashing a winners check and events decided in a playoff.
 
Starting with Singh's victory over John Daly at the Shell Houston Open, the last three events have all gone into extra holes including last week's Wachovia Championship, where Singh was again a participant. Singh alone has been in three playoffs this year, winning twice (Wachovia and Houston) and falling short to Padraig Harrington at the Honda Classic in March.
 
So far in 05, seven of the 19 events have gone to extra holes, with all seven coming in the last 13 weeks. The record for most playoffs in a season is 16, which happened twice, back in 1988 and 91. Last year, 14 events came down to a playoff.
 
Which leads us back to the Byron Nelson Championship where last year was - you guessed it - decided in a playoff. In fact, only the U.S. Open and the Shell Houston Open have had more playoffs in their tournament history.
 
With Garcia defending his crown in Dallas just days after his tough loss at Quail Hollow, expect him to be in the mix come Sunday along with some other big guns:
 
The Big Four
 
Vijay Singh
His stats are almost as staggering as his determination to win ' he came from six back in the final round to claim his third title of the season in Charlotte. In addition to his three wins, the big Fijian also has racked up a pair of runner-up finishes, a third and two more top-5s. Hes first on the money list, first in the all around ranking, first in total birdies and eagles, and second in scoring average for the year. And when it comes to playoffs, Singh can boast of a very impressive 7-2 mark all-time. Oh, and dont forget he won this very tournament two years ago.
 
Tiger Woods
Ranked No. 1 in the world. Three PGA Tour wins in '05. Masters champion. A mind-boggling 142 straight cuts made. All without being able to find a fairway on a consistent basis. Throw in the fact that he now has a chip on his shoulder after being assessed a two-stroke penalty in Sunday's final round in Charlotte, and Tiger will be ready coming into Big D. Woods finished a shot out of the playoff last year and visited the winner's circle here back in 1997.
 
Ernie Els
New label is starting to become 'Best player to seemingly never to play in America.' But the fact is the Big Easy has played in six events on the PGA Tour this season. Started the season strong with a third, a second and a sixth in the Mercedes, Sony and Buick Invitational, respectively. A disappointing 47th place finish at the Masters has the critics wondering, but he too has three wins on the year just as Vijay, Tiger and Phil do - albeit they're European Tour wins. Els has played well here in the past with a victory back in 1995 and a tie for seventh last year.
 
Phil Mickelson
Completes the cycle of the Big Four that have won the Nelson with his win sandwiched between Ernie's and Tiger's back in1996. Also had a chance in 2000 but lost to eventual champion Jesper Parnevik in a playoff (there's that word again). Has had mixed results though in his past several appearances with a missed cut last year and a 44th place finish in '03.
 
The Great G's - Goosen and Garcia
 
Retief Goosen
Although the quiet one will play in the Byron Nelson for the first time in his career, he may benefit with all the talk surrounding the Big Four and then proceed with his usual fly under the radar stellar play. Had a solid Masters performance with a third place showing and is coming of a strong runner-up finish to Adam Scott in the Johnnie Walker Classic in China. With the U.S. Open just over a month away, look for the big South African to start ratcheting up his play in time for his title defense.
 
Sergio Garcia
The not so quiet one will be hard pressed to rebound from his disastrous collapse in Sunday's final round at the Wachovia Championship. But as defending champion here in Dallas, Garcia's pride will ultimately keep him on the right track. Its been feast or famine for Sergio at this event: He has missed cuts in 2002 and 03 to go along with last years title and a tie for eighth in '01.
 
A Solid Par 3
 
Nick Price
St. Nick, a two-time PGA Tour player of the year award winner back in the 90s, won his only title here in 1991. Although that was long ago, he has had a remarkable run in each of the past six years here, never finishing outside the top-15. Price was seventh last year and was runner-up to Vijay in '03. One of the games best ball strikers, this course and its conditions set up well for the Hall of Famer.
 
Robert Damron
Despite not really having anything to write home about thus far in his 2005 PGA Tour campaign, Damron might just find the mojo he needs as he arrives back in town for the Byron Nelson. His lone career PGA Tour win came in a 2001 playoff over Scott Verplank and then last year he was gunning to repeat the feat before bowing out in the playoff to Garcia. Familiar with the course, Damron has played in the Nelson every year since getting his PGA Tour card in 1997.
 
Jesper Parnevik
The match-maker extraordinaire has some history here at this tournament. Struggling of late without a top-30 finish in his last eight starts, the colorful Swede did in fact win the event back in the turn of the century. And yes, it happened to come in a playoff. That bodes well for Parnevik. As does the fact that four of the past five winners have been come from outside the U.S..
 
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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.