Tiger Questionable for Title Defense

By Golf Channel NewsroomSeptember 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods should be the clear favorite to capture this weeks World Golf Championships-American Express Championship, for a number of reasons.
 
Reason No. 1: he has won nine WGC tournaments in his career. Reason No. 2: he has won this tournament three times ' on three different courses, including this years return stop in Kilkenny, Ireland. Reason No. 3: Vijay Singh isnt in the field.
 
But Woods hasnt won a stroke-play event since he walked away with this title a year ago. And if his back starts acting up, he may not even get a chance to defend it.
 
Woods said Wednesday that he injured his back sleeping awkwardly on a plane last week. He played only seven holes in his practice round at Mount Juliet before his back stiffened and he decided not to risk further injury.
 
I could have played 18 (holes) today, but it would have been tough, he said.
 
Asked if there was any doubt he would play Thursday, he responded: Yeah, there is a little bit.
 
Warm-up session will probably determine it, he added. If Im able to go, Ill go. If I cant, then I wont. Ive never been one to pull out of tournaments and quit just because Im physically sore. But if I cant actually swing a golf club, then its pretty tough to play.
 
Woods, who is scheduled to tee off with Luke Donald and K.J. Choi at 12:50 p.m. local time, has been getting treatment for the injury. He said the soreness is between his shoulder blades and hurts at impact.
 
Woods won the inaugural AmEx at Valderrama in 1999. He triumphed at Mount Juliet in 2002, when he didnt make a bogey until the 72nd hole, and then repeated last year outside of Atlanta, when he beat, among others, Singh by two strokes.
 
Singh, who has won five of the last six events he has entered, will not be around to exact any revenge this week. He withdrew to be with his family in their Florida home damaged by Hurricane Jeanne.
 
Singh isnt the only notable absentee. Phil Mickelson withdrew for personal reasons. Mike Weir, the 2000 champion at Valderrama, pulled out due to illness. Nick Price, John Daly and Kenny Perry also failed to make the trip.
 
What is it, six out of 70 people? Well, theres still plenty of other players to cover up that loss, Padraig Harrington said. Vijay would be obviously a star attraction, so that is a bit of a loss.
 
The field includes the top 50 players from the world rankings, as well as leading money winners from various tours (top 30 from the PGA Tour money list and top 20 from the European Volvo Order of Merit). There is no cut.
 
Harrington, who used to be affiliated with Mount Juliet, is among a small but strong Irish contingency that includes good friend Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, the only European to win an individual WGC event.
 
Yeah, it would certainly mean a few ticks off the goals if I could win a tournament in Ireland, Harrington said. It would be better to win it here than anywhere else.
 
Clarke is battling a cold that he thinks he picked up the Sunday of the Ryder Cup. He is among 10 European Ryder Cup team members in attendance, along with nine from the U.S. side.
 
One of those U.S. Ryder Cuppers, Stewart Cink, had a nightmare trans-Atlantic trip. He was among a group of players who took up 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy on his offer to play in his event and then take an all-expense-paid charter flight from Pennsylvania to Ireland.
 
One of the two Boeing 737s, however, experienced air conditioning problems, which sent smoke bellowing through the cabin. They also had to endure two refueling stops, making the total flight time nearly 20 hours.
 
'I was on the one that had to stay over with mechanical problems,' Cink said. 'There was smoke in the cabin, but you can't make a big deal out of it. That's in the past now. We got here.'
 
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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.