Vegas Set for Final Show

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 6, 2003, 4:00 pm
There is special meaning to this weeks Las Vegas Invitational. Beyond its fiscal weight, beyond the $4-million purse and the professional security it can offer to those who do well.
This years Las Vegas Invitational winner may forever hold that title. Because this years Las Vegas Invitational winner may well be the last.
Years of sub-par fanfare and the lack of a sponsor are jeopardizing the future of this 90-hole pro-am event.
Invensys pulled out as sponsor after a three-year run, and without a title sponsor this go-around, the Las Vegas Founders, the charitable group that runs the tournament, is footing the bill.
Last years winner received $900,000; this years victor will pocket $720,000. Las Vegas is the only tour event this season to decrease its purse from last year (from $5 million to $4 million).
In fact, 40 of the 45 pre-existing tour events experienced purse increases from 2002 to 2003.
The tournament is currently on the 2004 PGA Tour schedule, but tenuously so.
Crowds have been sparse at best over the years, and the fields have had little drawing power.
'The problem is, we just don't have the support of the community,' tournament manager Charlie Baron told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
'The people have to realize that we need their support,' he said. 'The community has to show it wants this golf tournament here.'
This is the first of the final four full-field tournaments on the 2003 calendar. It is also the first of two pro-am events in a three-week span (Disney).
One-hundred-and-44 professionals and 432 amateurs will play three different courses over five days. The 7,243-yard, par-72 TPC at Summerlin is the host course and will be played by everyone once over the first three days and exclusively over the final two rounds.
Players will also compete at the 7,381-yard, par-72 Southern Highlands Golf Club and at the 7,063-yard, par-71 TPC at The Canyons over the first three days.
All amateurs will compete Wednesday through Friday, with a cut being made to see who qualifies for Saturdays final pro-am round. It is professionals only on Sunday.
This is the 21st playing of the event. Phil Tataurangi is the defending champion, having fired a career-best 10-under 62 in the final round to erase a five-stroke deficit.
He won by a single swing over Jeff Sluman and Stuart Appleby.
Sixteen of the 21 Invitationals have been decided by a stroke or in a playoff, including in each of the last nine years.
Last year's edition marked the New Zealanders first career tour victory; he became the first player since Tiger Woods, in 1996, to accomplish that feat in Sin City.
Woods has yet to return to this event since his failed title defense in 1997. He wont be back in 03, but there is a small oasis of stars in the desert.
Three-time Vegas winner Jim Furyk looks to further his player-of-the-year campaign. He is joined by 2000 runner-up Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell III, Chris DiMarco, Rich Beem and David Duval, all of whom are trying to avoid a seasonal shutout in the win column.
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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.