Game within a game at LPGA event

By Randall MellApril 24, 2012, 9:26 pm

Lexi Thompson hasn’t qualified for the big event yet.

Neither has Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim or Laura Davies.

There is a game within the game this week at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The drama building there will go beyond who wins Sunday. It extends to who will win the battles for the final qualifying spots into the Sybase Match Play Championship, the LPGA’s next event (May 17-20).

While 48 Sybase spots were locked up off the top of the priority list following the 2011 season, 14 spots are open via the Mobile LPGA Classic. The final two spots in the 64-player field will be awarded as sponsor exemptions.

After the last putt drops in Mobile Sunday, the top 12 players on the 2012 money list who are not already qualified for Sybase will get an invite. Those 12 spots are currently held down by So Yeon Ryu, Jenny Shin, Jessica Korda, Caroline Hedwall, Julieta Granda, Karine Sjodin, Eun-Hee Ji, Mina Harigae, Jodi Ewart, Gulbis, Haeji Kang and Amanda Blumenherst.

Also, the top two players on the leaderboard through 36 holes who are not already qualified for Sybase will get an invite.

Thompson is currently 19th among players who haven’t yet qualified for the Sybase, but her position might be moot. If Thompson qualifies for Sybase, she’ll have a teenager’s conflict. She’s scheduled to go to her prom on the weekend of Sybase. Also, Juli Inkster is qualified for Sybase, but she is injured and may not be able to play. If she doesn’t play, Paige Mackenzie will earn the spot off the 2012 priority list.

Here’s the top 48 already qualified:

1.     Yani Tseng

2.     Cristie Kerr

3.     Na Yeon Choi

4.     Stacy Lewis

5.     Suzann Pettersen

6.     Brittany Lincicome

7.     Angela Stanford

8.     Ai Miyazato

9.     Paula Creamer

10.   Amy Yang

11.   I.K. Kim

12.   Hee Young Park

13.   Morgan Pressel

14.   Karrie Webb

15.   Jiyai Shin

16.   Catriona Matthew

17.   Maria Hjorth

18.   Michelle Wie

19.   Brittany Lang

20.   Sandra Gal

21.   Hee Kyung Seo

22.   Mika Miyazato

23.   Anna Nordqvist

24.   Azahara Munoz

25.   Sun Young Yoo

26.   Karine Icher

27.   Sophie Gustafson

28.   Se Ri Pak

29.   Meena Lee

30.   Karen Stupples

31.   Katie Futcher

32.   Inbee Park

33.   Shanshan Feng

34.   Song-Hee Kim

35.   Momoko Ueda

36.   Chelle Choi

37.   Juli Inkster

38.   Candie Kung

39.   Mindy Kim

40.   Jimin Kang

41.   Hee-Won Han

42.   Tiffany Joh

43.   Jeong Jang

44.   Amy Hung

45.   Beatriz Recari

46.   Wendy Ward

47.   Vicky Hurst

48.   Ryann O’Toole

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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.