Who will win the PGA Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2010, 9:48 pm

Who will win the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits? Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer up their opinions.

By REX HOGGARD

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Winds gusting to 25 mph and a swing that, at least on Saturday, seemed as sound as the Midwestern sensibilities that define this area will be the ultimate arbiter on Sunday at Whistling Straits, but then golf’s capricious ways have a history of upending the storybook.

With a three-stroke lead and a game trending in all the right directions, Nick Watney seems the easy pick to hoist glory at her last stand, but it’s the man Watney will venture out onto the faux links land with that gets our nod for early favorite.

If careers are defined by major moments both large and small, Dustin Johnson may well point to his fateful final round earlier this year at Pebble Beach as the turning point in his promising career.

Three days after his Pebble Beach meltdown Johnson and caddie Bobby Brown got around to watching Sunday’s replay, all 82 pops.

“I think the light went off (for Johnson) that I’m on my way to being one of the best,” Brown said.

Since Pebble Beach, Johnson has finished T-14 (Open Championship), T-19 (Scandinavian Masters) and 15th (WGC-Bridgestone Championship) and he’s gotten better with each round at Whistling Straits (71-68-67).

Watney may have the early edge, but Johnson is the easy favorite.

By RANDALL MELL

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Rory McIlroy is 21 and going on 30.

That’s the maturity level we’re seeing on and off the golf course from the man from Northern Ireland.

It’s what wins him the PGA Championship and his first major today.

McIlroy is already showing there’s no fear in him in the biggest events and against the best fields. Coming to Whistling Straits this week, he had played in seven major championships as a pro. He had top-10 finishes in three of them, including T-3s at last year’s PGA Championship and this year’s British Open.

Two strong signs that he’s ready to break through under major championship pressure have come this season. McIlroy’s 62 in the final-round of the Quail Hollow Championship was eye opening. You could argue it’s more the fifth major than The Players Championship. The strength of that field, the quality of that golf course, it radiated major vibes.

Last month, McIlroy showed his special gifts with that 63 in the first round of the British Open, but he showed us something just as important after faltering with an 80 in terrible weather in the second round. He bounced back with a 69 and 68 to tie for third.

It’s the ability to withstand disappointment and persevere that helps him win today.
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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.