You Oughta Know: 142nd Open Championship

By Will GrayJuly 20, 2013, 7:33 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the season's third major at Muirfield. Here's what You Oughta Know heading into the final round, where Lee Westwood clings to a two-shot lead:

• In search of a his maiden major title, Westwood holds a 54-hole lead at a major event for just the second time in his career. The Englishman led by one shot after three rounds at the 2010 Masters and shot a final-round 71, but finished second to Phil Mickelson, who passed him with a Sunday 67.

• Having celebrated his 40th birthday in April, Westwood looks to become the third consecutive Open champion over the age of 40. Ernie Els came from behind last year at age 42 to win his second Open title at Royal Lytham, while Darren Clarke was also 42 years old when he hoisted the claret jug at Royal St. George's in 2011.

• Making his 62nd career start in a major, Westwood has not lacked for opportunities to win recently, having notched seven top-three finishes in majors since 2008. The Englishman currently holds the dubious distinction of making the most career major starts without a win, ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez (61), Sergio Garcia (60) and Steve Stricker (59).

• Two shots behind Westwood entering the final round, Tiger Woods will look to win a 15th major title Sunday, though, it would be the first of his career when not leading after 54 holes. Five years removed from his last major triumph at the 2008 U.S. Open, this is Woods' best 54-hole position in a major since the 2009 PGA Championship, when he led after three rounds at Hazeltine before finishing second behind Y.E. Yang.

• A month after tying for fourth at Merion, Hunter Mahan has a spot in the final pairing of the final round for the second consecutive major. He's tied with Woods after a Saturday 68. It's the third consecutive year that one player has been in the last pairing on Sunday in consecutive majors; Rory McIlroy had late Sunday tee times at both the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011, while Graeme McDowell, like Mahan, pulled off the feat at both the U.S. Open and British Open a year ago.

• After his shocking collapse at Royal Lytham a year ago, Adam Scott is again in contention to claim the claret jug, sitting three shots off the lead with 18 holes to play. Scott is looking to become the fifth Australian to win the British Open and just the ninth player to win both the Masters and the Open in the same season, a feat last accomplished in 2005 by Tiger Woods when he won at St. Andrews three months after claiming his fourth green jacket.

• Entering the final round tied for fifth, Angel Cabrera is again in contention in a major just months after losing a sudden-death playoff to Scott at Augusta National. With a win, the Argentinian would become the fourth player to win three of the four major championships since 1980, joining Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson on that esteemed list.

• If history is any indication, Westwood has a great shot at holding the claret jug Sunday evening. Since 1958, the 54-hole leader has prevailed at the British Open 30 times in 55 attempts, including two of the last three years. Specifically in Opens staged at Muirfield, the numbers are even more in Westwood's favor; in 15 events, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has gone on to win 10 times, including four of the last five instances dating back to 1972.

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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.