Road to the Tour Champ Passes Through Disney

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
No player is immune from the inane media question, especially not Tiger Woods.
 
Woods stood before a small gathering of local media following a corporate outing in Orlando, Fla., and was queried as to his frustration level having not been able to win the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort.
 
Ive won it twice, responded a befuddled Woods.
 
Yeah, but its been a while, replied the reporter.
 
Four years to be precise. Tiger last hung out with Tigger in Disneys winners circle in 1999; he first did so in 96.
 
But while hes won the last four years at Bay Hill, hes been shut out over that time frame in this other hometown event. He finished third in 2000 and 2002, and tied for 16th in 01.
 
In Tigers absence there have been Duffy Waldorf in 2000, Jose Coceres two years ago, and Bob Burns last year.
 
A win this year would do more than just end Tigers Disney drought; it would be his sixth title of the season, and further his cause for Player of the Year honors.
 
Other Player of the Year candidates in attendance this week include Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh.
 
Of course, there is plenty more to play for this week than some season-ending hardware.
 
This is both the penultimate full-field event of the season as well as the penultimate event to qualify for the Tour Championship at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
 
All players between Nos. 26 and 44 on the money list are scheduled to attend; though, Rocco Mediate, at No. 32, had to withdraw from his title defense last week in Greensboro and is questionable.
 
Last weeks winner, Shigeki Maruyama, moved to 35th in earnings and is looking to continue his march to Houston. Phil Mickelson, who has qualified for the Tour Championship each of the last 10 years, currently resides in 36th place on the money list.
 
Not in the field is No. 45 Ben Curtis.
 
If the past few years are any indication, expect a shootout this week.
 
Chris DiMarco opened in 64-63 a year ago to set the 36-hole tournament scoring record at 17-under-par 127. He concluded with 69-68 to finish one back of Burns, who took the title at 25-under-par 263.
 
Coceres won at 23 under in 2001, and Waldorf tied the 72-hole tournament scoring record with a 26-under 262 total in 2000.
 
The 144 players in the field will each compete on the Palm (par-72, 7,193 yards) and Magnolia (par-72, 7,243 yards) courses over the first two rounds. They will play the Magnolia exclusively over the weekend.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort
  • More PGA Tour Preview Information
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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.