Furyk helps Ryder Cup chances with 63 at Firestone

By Jason SobelAugust 2, 2012, 11:18 pm

AKRON, Ohio – If the United States Ryder Cup points standing remains intact for the next two weeks – and that’s a big if, with every borderline qualifier competing twice and double points at the PGA Championship – there will be an inevitable logjam of possible captain’s picks from which Davis Love III can choose.

Conventional wisdom says Steve Stricker will claim one of the four remaining roster spots, if for no other reason than being a great putter and likely partner for Tiger Woods is a convincing one-two punch. That same conventional wisdom shows that at least the foursome of Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk will push for the other three positions, leaving the captain with some major decisions and a potentially major snub.

And sticking with conventional wisdom for one more logical conclusion, now would be a pretty good time for those candidates to start playing some inspired golf.

That last bit of wisdom should serve as excellent news for Furyk, who opened his campaign at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a 7-under 63 that gave him a two-stroke lead.

A member of each of the last seven Ryder Cup teams, Furyk is very cognizant of what he needs in order to claim one of the eight qualifying positions by next Sunday evening.

“I'd be lying if I said it wasn't on my mind and it hadn't crossed my mind,” he admitted. “I know exactly where I stand. I'm 14th in points.”

Never mind that Furyk actually ranks 15th on the current list. That was just about his only mistake on a day when he posted an eagle and seven birdies to get himself into the top spot on the leaderboard with 54 holes to go at Firestone Country Club.

It’s a welcome change from his recent play. Since contending at the U.S. Open, Furyk has made four starts, resulting in two 34th-place finishes and a pair of missed cuts. Following the last of those at last week’s Canadian Open, he made a beeline for salvation.

“I got in an airplane as quick as I could Saturday morning, went home for about three days, and it felt good to kind of sit on the back porch and relax a little bit,” he said. “I think more than anything I needed a little time to clear my head, think about what was going wrong. It wasn't anything that was going wrong, why I wasn't playing better. I just felt like I needed to come in here and quit concentrating on trying to be so mechanically sound and just go play some golf and try to score and get the ball in the hole a little bit. It worked today.”

It’s working toward helping his overall goal of making the Ryder Cup team again, too, though there’s still a long way to go.

Furyk currently has 2,653.116 points in a format that is based on money earned (major championship earnings are doubled), leaving him more than 1,300 hefty points from the final automatic qualifying place. It’s not an impossible task, but will require continued solid play for the remainder of this week and next.

Not that he can think about it while competing.

“If I were sitting out there on the golf course trying to hit shots worried about the Ryder Cup team, it wouldn't be possible to play well,” he explained. “I'd be lying if I said it wasn't on my mind, but I also know when you're trying to win a golf tournament, if you're just focused on trying to win, it's not going to happen. You have to focus on trying to hit the ball in the fairway, trying to focus on trying to hit a good shot in the middle of the green, trying to knock a putt in and just not get ahead of yourself.

“I'm wise enough to know what my situation is, wise enough to know where I stand, but the only thing I can do to help it is to play well, so I'm focused on playing well and nothing else.”

There’s a long-standing mantra in the game which serves as the easy two-word answer for any player who wishes to claim the spoils that come with success: Play better.

Through one round this week, Furyk is living up to that mantra, playing better than he has since the U.S. Open. If he keeps it up, those spoils may just come in an eighth appointment to play in the Ryder Cup.

For now, though, that’s all he can do. Play better. It’s just conventional wisdom.

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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.