Mallon full of heart, named '13 Solheim captain

By Randall MellJanuary 26, 2012, 2:26 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Meg Mallon knows better than anyone the thrill and torment that tugs at the hearts of players in the Solheim Cup.

She has been front and center for some of the competition’s most poignant moments.

Mallon, introduced Thursday as U.S. captain for the 2013 matches at Colorado Golf Club, felt her heart sinking back in Scotland in 1992 as she watched the Europeans celebrate around her when Catrin Nilsmark clinched the cup making a putt to defeat her in singles.

She also felt her heart swell with joy when she made the putt to clinch the American victory at Crooked Stick in her final Solheim Cup in 2005.

“I remember standing there with Catrin’s ball in my hand watching, the Europeans dancing all around me,” Mallon, said on the floor of the PGA Merchandise Show shortly after being introduced as the new captain. “That’s something you don’t forget.

“But I also remember coming full circle with my teammates jumping around me after I made a putt at Crooked Stick.”

Nobody’s heart has been pushed to its limit as much as Mallon’s has in the Solheim Cup.

Back in the aftermath of that victory at Crooked Stick, Mallon thought she was having a heart attack as she left the final ceremonies.

With her heart racing uncontrollably, she was rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital. She was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition that has since been remedied.

“That was a little dramatic,” Mallon said. “We win and an hour later, I’m in a cardiac unit trying to figure out why my heart is beating 299 times a minute. I was kind of a buzz kill.”

Whether the Americans are riding a high in the midst of the next Solheim Cup, or enduring a swoon, Mallon is prepared. She has been in the wildest of circumstances in her eight Solheim Cups as a player. She was 13-9-7 in the matches, her 16½ points ranking as second most for an American in Solheim Cup history, trailing only Juli Inkster’s 18½.

An 18-time LPGA winner, with four major championship titles, Mallon called the Solheim Cup “the greatest experience” in women’s golf.

“Meg represents everything golf is about,” said John Solheim, the Ping chairman whose father founded the competition.

Mallon, 48, played on eight U.S. Solheim Cup teams, five of them winners, sporting a 13-9-7 career record in the matches. She served as assistant captain to Beth Daniel in 2009 when the Americans won at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago.

The challenge for Mallon is winning back the Solheim Cup. The Euros won it in Ireland last September, ending a run of three consecutive victories for the Americans. The other challenge is defending home turf. The Americans have never lost a Solheim Cup on their home turf.

“Losing the last Solheim Cup, the way we finished, Paula Creamer and I walked away from the 18th green saying `We are never losing like that, ever again,’” Lewis said. “I sat there on the 18th after, soaking it all in, and I told myself I never want to watch this again. We are more than motivated to win the cup back.”

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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.