Everybody loves a good cliché: Looking back on 2012

By Bailey MosierOctober 16, 2012, 2:30 pm

Everyone loves a good cliché. The 2012 golf season has given us plenty of moments defined by such hackneyed phrases.

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Rory McIlroy won early this season at the Honda Classic in March but then cooled his jets for the next few months including three missed cuts and lackluster showings in the year's first three majors. Amid his 'struggles,' McIlroy came under fire for chasing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki rather than giving chase late on Sundays. Everyone analyzed, scrutinized and many were convinced if McIlroy ditched the girl he would bag some more wins. And then, everything changed. McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Then he won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in August. Then he won the very next week at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. And guess what? He's found his way back into the winner's circle with Wozniacki on his arm – and in his heart – every step of the way. So what's love got to do with it? Maybe everything and maybe nothing. But critics be damned, the kid got the girl and the trophies, which goes to show ... love conquers all.

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Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead in the final round at the Farmers Insurance Open, including a triple bogey-8 at the 72nd hole that forced him into a playoff with Brandt Snedeker. Stanley lost to Snedeker on the second playoff hole, but went on to win the next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ironically, thanks to the final-round collapse of Spencer Levin (Levin blew an eight-shot lead in the final round in Phoenix). Stanley’s collapse at the Farmers could have scarred him for life, but instead, he persevered, which just goes to show you ... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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Ernie Els failed to qualify for the Masters this season for the first time since 1994. When The Masters committee opted not to extend an invite to the South African Hall of Famer, he said he understood the club's decision and acknowledged he had only himself to blame. '(Missing the Masters this year is) not going to change my life. It's just one of those things. I'll be back there next year,' Els said after failing to qualify. And ya know what? He will be back next year and then some. Els captured the Open Championship four months later at Royal Lytham & St. Annes for his first major victory in 10 years, which just goes to show you ... if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

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Kevin Na notched his first PGA Tour victory last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, but earlier this season he was on the cusp of another major milestone. At The Players in May, Na held the 54-hole lead by one shot, despite much criticism and on-course ridicule from fans reagrding his slow play. Na struggled with pulling the trigger all three rounds at TPC Sawgrass and was put on the clock by Tour officials, sometimes taking more than the allotted 60 seconds to hit shots. Na went out Sunday and tried to speed up his play but shot a final-round 4-over 76. Na would have been better served had he stuck with his game plan Sunday – although it would have been a slow, excruciating round to watch, which just goes to show you ... you should march to the beat of your own drum.

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After Luke Donald bogeyed the par-5 18th hole at TPC Boston in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, he decided to take to Twitter to let out his angst on architect Gil Hanse’s redesign. On Saturday evening, Donald tweeted to his nearly 300,000 followers, “Nothing quite like hitting my best shot of the day into the last and walking off with a bogie, what a terribly re-designed green #sourtaste.' In what was supposed to be a private message, Donald then tweeted his cellphone number and called Hanse an offensive name. Though he quickly realized his mistake, Donald’s comments were posted on several websites by late Saturday evening. Donald apologized the next day and although he said that he would likely take a hiatus from the social media tool, he has remained an active tweeter. Although now it appears he thinks before he tweets, which just goes to show you ... if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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In the first round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions, Nick Watney's caddie, Chad Reynolds, was accused – and later found to be innocent – of testing the surface of the seventh green while lining up a putt. That was the first rules gaffe of the 2012 season, but far from the last. From Graeme McDowell’s two-shot penalty in the first round of the BMW Championship for grazing a leaf attached to a twig while addressing his ball in a bunker, to Carl Pettersson being assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving a leaf during his swing while hitting from a hazard on the first hole Sunday at the PGA Championship, we’ve seen players become more and more victimized by the rules this year. The players aren’t complaining about having to follow rules, they’re complaining about being penalized for things out of their control or things they did without intent. The rules of golf are antiquated and perhaps, in need of an overhaul, which just goes to show you ... the rules were meant to be broken – or in this case, at least amended.

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Tiger Woods, 36, and Phil Mickelson, 42, had never both missed the cut in the same event in 17 years playing alongside each other as professionals. That all changed this year when they both missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic, where Woods posted rounds of 71-69 and Mickelson countered with scores of 71-71 as each failed to finish inside the number.

The missed cut by Woods was just the ninth of his career and it was Mickelson’s 64th. An unfortunate fate for the two golfers and for fans watching that week, but 197 previous tournaments where at least one of the game’s two biggest stars cashed a paycheck on the weekend is still a tremendous feat. We would have loved to see the streak continue, but it just goes to show you ... all good things must come to an end.

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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.