After Further Review: Cheyenne's big Aussie win

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Cheyenne Woods' big win at the Australian Ladies Masters, D.A. Points' disqualification and Jimmy Walker's close call at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The Australian Ladies Masters was a huge victory for Cheyenne Woods in that it brought her out of her famous uncle’s considerable shadow.

It’s also significant in that it’ll open up a plethora of playing opportunities on the LPGA, because, after all, what tournament director wouldn’t want her in the event?

But the rush to anoint her as the next superstar in the women’s game is premature, and it overlooks not only her modest résumé but also the better, and younger, players who dot the women’s golf landscape.

You know, the Lydia Kos and Lexi Thompsons and Jessica Kordas and Ariya Jutanugarns. Moving forward, let’s hope her play continues to be more notable than her surname. – Ryan Lavner

Cheyenne Woods may not qualify as a Tigress just yet, but she has game. Watching her struggle to get to the LPGA, failing in two attempts to get through Q-School, you couldn't help but wonder if she had what it takes to make her own name as a player.

You had to wonder some more when she couldn't do better than 78th on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit as a rookie last year. That tour isn't anywhere near as deep as the LPGA.

Through it all, though, Woods believed. We saw the magic in her breakthrough win at the Aussie Ladies Masters Sunday. She was confident and in command while beating a very respectable field. It was a big step. – Randall Mell

D.A. Points’ disqualification for using a training device during competition once again cast a spotlight on the ugly side of professional golf: Players receiving penalties after watchdogs snitch to officials.

Few people enjoy this gotcha spectatorism, but even fewer understand it. In today’s digital age, this information passes with light speed.

It often doesn’t include the traditional idea of a television viewer calling the tournament office and reporting a violation; it can spread through social media like wildfire, as this one did.

And though you may not like it, I’ll counter by playing devil’s advocate: What if Points’ violation was seen by on-course spectators and at-home viewers, but the PGA Tour closed its ears to such correspondence? It would allow a player to continue competing when the rest of us know he should have been penalized.

Trust me: Officials at the highest level dislike the idea of these call-ins even more than you. But it’s more important to ensure the right ruling is made, regardless of how it comes about. - Jason Sobel

A decade ago this week on a tree-lined golf course in Panama, Jimmy Walker lapped the field at a Tour event by five strokes, overpowering the course and competition with a powerful swing and aggressive style.

He would go on to claim the secondary tour’s money title in 2004, but before he was able to deliver on all that potential he was slowed by a neck injury before his first start in Hawaii.

The difficult years that followed, however, faded on Sunday at Pebble Beach when he claimed his third title in his last eight starts. After a decade adrift, the hard-swinging Walker picked up where he started 10 years ago in Panama. – Rex Hoggard

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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.