Notes Relaxed Atompshere on Course

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England -- Brad Faxon finished a British Open practice round Monday playing in a fivesome. Try getting away with that at the Masters.
 
'It's a little more lax over here,' Faxon said. 'But not in a bad way.'
 
Certainly, the island where golf was invented treats this event with a certain irreverence that's not permitted at the three majors played in the United States.
 
On a warm, sunny day, several fans took off their shirts to get a tan. As players came off the 18th green, they were greeted by autograph seekers who had crept inside the ropes without hearing a peep from the marshals.
 
Faxon began his practice round with the regulation foursome, playing with Chris DiMarco, Jay Haas and Jesper Parnevik. Along the way, Sergio Garcia horned his way in to make it a fivesome -- not to mention another 20 or so caddies, agents, coaches and other hangers-on.
 
No one seemed to mind.
 
'Everyone here appreciates golf,' Faxon said. 'They're not as picky about the other stuff, from the locker rooms to having a lot of hotel choices and amenities. You come here with a greater appreciation of the golf.'
 
LOST BALL
 
There's a potential souvenir lurking somewhere along the 18th green.
 
Japan's Noboru Sugai knocked an approach shot into the tall, thick grass located to the right side of the green. He hit another ball onto the green, then spent several minutes in a futile search for his first ball.
 
'I never did find (it),' Sugai said. 'The grass is like this,' he added, holding his right hand about waist high. 'It is not like that on any other hole.'
 
ACQUIRED TASTE
 
Steve Flesch started getting hungry halfway through his practice round Monday.
 
'Is there a McDonald's around here?' he said jokingly to his caddie.
 
No, but they were selling ice cream and baguettes at a concession stand behind the next tee box. Since Bernhard Langer and Matthias Gronberg were taking their time in the group ahead, Flesch sent his caddie for a quick snack.
 
He returned with a 'bacon bap' -- grilled bacon stuffed in a baguette.
 
Flesch stared at the British Open staple, took two bites and tossed the rest of it into the waist-high rough.
 
RYDER CUP UPDATE
 
Sandy Lyle is making his pitch to serve as European captain for the 2004 Ryder Cup.
 
After Sam Torrance cut off any talk of reprising the role at Oakland Hills, Lyle asked to be considered for the role.
 
'Your guess is as good as mine,' Lyle said. 'My name is in the pot for Ryder Cup captain. Whether I get it this year or in the next few years, I don't know. I wouldn't like to let it go too long because you tend to lose touch with the younger players.'
 
Lyle, 45, is a two-time major champion, winning the 1985 British Open and the '88 Masters.
 
'My qualifications are reasonably good,' he said. 'It's not like I haven't won tournaments before. As far as being a good captain, there's no guarantees until you're faced with the situation.'
 
Hal Sutton already has been named the U.S. captain.
 
INTERNATIONAL FIELD
 
As usual, the British Open has the most diverse field of any of the majors. All those flags flying atop the grandstands attest to that.
 
Nineteen countries were represented among the 128 exempt players, including India (Jyoti Randhawa).
 
Forty-seven American players claimed spots, while the United Kingdom had 25 players to defend its home-country advantage.
 
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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.