Woods named Player of the Year; Spieth top rookie

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 27, 2013, 1:05 pm

When it came to Player of the Year, it apparently was no major, no problem for Tiger Woods.

The world No. 1 was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 11th time on Friday, beating out Phil Mickelson, Adam ScottHenrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. The Tour discloses neither the final vote totals for the Jack Nicklaus Award nor how many eligible players voted.

A five-time winner this season, Woods captured two World Golf Championships (Doral, Firestone) and The Players, and finished second in the season-long FedEx Cup. No other player had more than two PGA Tour titles.

'It's been an incredible year to have won five times and two of those World Golf Championships and one Players,' Woods said. 'It's been just a fantastic year all around. It's also an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers and to have that type of respect is something that's very humbling.'

Last week Woods was named the PGA of America’s Player of the Year, finishing 36 points ahead of Scott. Woods (68.98) also earned the Vardon Trophy, given annually to the player with the lowest adjusted scoring average in 60 required rounds. (Steve Stricker did not qualify.) He also claimed the Arnold Palmer Award as the Tour’s leading money winner, with $8,553,439.

Even as Woods padded his career victory total – he’s up to 79 PGA Tour wins, just three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record – he was criticized for falling short in the majors for the fifth consecutive calendar year. Woods is now the fourth player in the last five years to be named Player of the Year without winning a major.

In the end, however, his fellow PGA Tour members deemed his overall body of work more impressive than any of the other nominees, including Mickelson or Scott, both of whom won twice (including a major) in 2013, and Stenson, the FedEx Cup winner.

There was far less debate for Rookie of the Year.

That award went to 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who authored one of the most remarkable freshman campaigns in the past two decades.

'It's just a tremendous honor,' Spieth said. 'It was a great year for rookies on the PGA TOUR with a few winners. I feel great to be voted by my peers in elite company there as the best rookie this year.'

The former Texas star’s résumé included a victory at the John Deere Classic, eight other top 10s (three runners-up) and nearly $4 million in earnings. What’s more, Spieth became the first player since Woods (1996) to begin the season with no status on any tour and advance all the way to the Tour Championship. Spieth tied for second at East Lake, and next week he will represent the United States at the Presidents Cup.

'To start off the year with no status and to have won a tournament and not only get to the TOUR Championship and finish in the Top 10 on the money list is pretty incredible,' Woods said of Spieth's season.

The other nominees for the award were Sony winner Russell Henley, Quail Hollow champion Derek Ernst and Swede David Lingmerth, who lost in a playoff at the Humana Challenge and tied for second at The Players.

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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.