Reed - not Woods - making red and black look good

By Jason SobelDecember 6, 2014, 12:22 am

WINDERMERE, Fla. – You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, and you sure as hell don’t wear the same one as the man of steel when you’re flying around fighting crime with him.

And yet, there was Patrick Reed on Friday morning, striding confidently to the first tee for his first career competitive tee time with his golfing idol, clad in almost the identical wardrobe that has been draped on Tiger Woods’ body for every victory on his exceedingly lengthy list.

Black hat. Red shirt. Black pants. Throw in a callous scowl and steely-eyed glare, and Reed essentially looked like he was dressed as Woods for Halloween instead of for the second round of the Hero World Challenge.

Not that this is anything new. After his WGC-Cadillac Championship win in similar garb earlier this year, Reed explained that it was a paean to his hero. "The best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants, a red shirt. I was growing up watching him. I always thought, `You know, it would be cool to wear black and red coming down on Sunday.’”

This wasn’t a Sunday, though. It was a Friday and, without question, Reed knew the identity of his playing partner. He later insisted the clothes weren’t an honorarium toward Woods, nor were they malicious trolling.

One thing’s for sure: He wore ‘em well.

Eighteen holes and 63 strokes after stepping to that first tee, Reed was the one who looked like Superman, jumping 14 spots on the leaderboard and rendering his idol to the role of Clark Kent.

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“You know, I’d never played with Tiger before, besides in a practice round at the British [Open],” he explained. “It was good to finally be able to play with him, especially in competition. It was a lot of fun. We had a good time. I felt like we enjoyed ourselves out there, and luckily I played well.”

He played better than that. The 9-under 63 included an eagle and eight birdies against just a single bogey and is the tournament’s best total so far. It moved him into a share of third place entering the weekend.

Perhaps the most surprising part, though, was that he offered no bravado in the aftermath. No referring to himself as a top-five player, like at Doral. No playfully shushing the crowd, like at the Ryder Cup. No needling of the player he grew up watching.

“I've spent a lot of time talking to him before during practice rounds or while we're on the putting green or driving range, so I was already comfortable being around him,” he said. “If you would've asked me that my rookie year, maybe my second tournament and I was paired with him, I would probably say something different.”

Just 24, Reed is now a seasoned veteran. He owns three career victories, ranks two spots behind Woods on the world ranking and is equal parts famous and infamous – an intriguing mix in a game known too often for milquetoast competitors.

This week he’s literally playing with house money, the result of a late invitation into the elite 18-man field after Jim Furyk recently withdrew with an injury.

That sort of nothing-to-lose attitude might be what vaulted him from 17th place to serious contention on Friday, but it wasn’t without some 11th hour preparation, too.

“I found out I got in the event last minute,” said Reed, who last played at the WGC-HSBC Champions four weeks ago. “Probably wasn't really prepared and warmed up and ready to go.”

He could’ve fooled everyone else.

Reed opened with birdies on each of the first three holes, posting a front-nine 29 at Isleworth Golf & Country Club, where coincidentally his playing partner holds the unofficial course record of 59. He didn’t quite challenge that number, but he did beat Woods by seven in their first tournament round together.

One player who was neither surprised by the score nor his red-and-black ensemble was current leader Jordan Spieth, who not only played with Reed in the opening round, but had a front row seat for his brashness at the Ryder Cup, too.

“I was heading to the range and he was going to the first tee; I told [caddie] Michael [Greller], ‘Of course Patrick is wearing red and black today,’” Spieth laughed. “I know he was excited when we got finished yesterday and he saw he was paired with Tiger. … I wouldn't have guessed who would've shot a lower score. Tiger is capable of shooting 9‑under and so is Patrick, so I'm not going to shoot myself with that one.”

Reed didn’t just tug at Superman’s cape. He wore it. Then he stole the scene and saved the day.

Hey, it wasn’t the first time that a guy with a steely-eyed glare and callous scowl made shooting 63 in a red shirt look easy.

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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.