Love looking like a genius

By Jason SobelSeptember 22, 2012, 10:56 pm

ATLANTA – This year’s edition of the Ryder Cup hasn’t even started yet, but already U.S. captain Davis Love III is looking like a genius.

That’s because entering the final round of the Tour Championship, both Brandt Snedeker and Jim Furyk – the two most controversial of his four wildcard selections – are in contention to win the tournament and the FedEx Cup first prize of $10 million.

That kind of cash could buy plenty of extra ping-pong balls for the team room.

With only days remaining before the festivities begin at Medinah, it leads to the question: Is Love really that smart or are his players just making it look that way?

“I think we both felt a little extra pressure to play well this week. You always want to make sure that your captains look good,” Snedeker explained after firing a third-round 6-under 64. “We know how you guys [in the media] like to write it up if we're not playing great. And we definitely wanted to make sure he looked smart going into the Ryder Cup.”

Snedeker is certainly doing his part. Earning the nod three weeks ago over fellow candidates Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney, he now owns a share of the 54-hole lead with Justin Rose.

Call it perfect timing.

Playing some of the best golf of his career couldn’t have come at a better time for Snedeker. As one of the top five in the FedEx Cup points standings prior to the season finale, he controls his own destiny, meaning a win on Sunday would earn him two trophies.

Don’t underestimate the role that being named to the team has played in his performance this week.

“I think it's definitely taken a weight off my shoulders,” said the Ryder Cup rookie. “After being named to the Ryder Cup team, I didn't get back into the swing of things, so last week was great to kind of get refreshed and get my mind where it needs to be to try to win this golf tournament.”

Through 16 holes of his third round, Furyk was also tied for the Tour Championship lead, setting up a potential final-round pairing of captain’s picks.

Then he stepped to the 17th tee.

After hitting his first drive into the water that guards the hole’s left side, he reteed and bounced the next one off the roof of a corporate tent, then found a greenside bunker before pitching on and two-putting for a regrettable triple-bogey.

“I played solid. I mean, I was in the lead the entire day,” explained Furyk, who entered the day with a one-shot advantage on the field. “Got to 17. Was a little uncomfortable on the tee shot, and hit a bad double cross. Kind of guided it out there, instead of making a good swing, and then my head was spinning. Didn't really settle myself down into the second swing. Blew it way right and ended up not really hitting a good four shot, average bunker shot. Hit a great putt, but it didn't go in and added up to 7.”

Despite his troubles on the penultimate hole, Furyk remains very much in the hunt. His third-round score of 2-over 72 leaves him in a share of fourth place going into Sunday, three strokes behind the leaders.

If there’s solace for the captain who picked him, it’s that one poor hole doesn’t affect the result nearly as much in the Ryder Cup’s match play format. If there’s solace for Furyk, it’s that he played well for the rest of the round.

“I played 17 good holes,” he said. “I didn't score the way I wanted to, but it's easier to put that one hole behind me than if I had shot 72 and made 6 bogeys today and kind of struggled around the golf course.”

Somewhere on Saturday, Love must have been doing some leaderboard watching, smiling to himself about Snedeker and Furyk in contention, especially on the heels of a third selection, Dustin Johnson, posting top-10 finishes in each of the first three playoff events. Additionally, the three aforementioned close calls – Mahan, Fowler and Watney – are each currently outside the top-15 in this week’s 30-man field.

It’s enough to make Davis Love III look like a genius already – before the real test has even begun.

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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.