Scott the latest to miss shooting 62 in a major

By Jason SobelJuly 19, 2012, 3:10 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Riddle me this, golf fans: If records were made to be broken, then why does one of golf’s most prestigious marks continually get passed down like a family heirloom from one generation to the next without ever being surpassed?

That isn’t meant to be a trick question, but trying to break the 63 barrier in a major championship has proven to be the trickiest of circumstances for everyone who has ever played the game.

They’ve been contesting at least one of the four for more than a century-and-a-half, this week’s Open Championship serving as the 423rd edition of what’s now known as the modern majors. Twenty-five times a player has come within one stroke of shooting 62. That’s 25 separate occasions when one putt hung on the lip instead of falling into the hole or turned right at the last moment instead of keeping its path, each time ensuring that history was preserved.

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You may have heard a little bit about the first player to post 63 in a major. It was Johnny Miller, who netted the number in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club – and yes, the story does tend to surface from time to time.

Since then, he’s been joined by an elite list that reads like a who’s who in golf’s illustrious history. From Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player, Greg Norman to Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart to Jose Maria Olazabal. There is only an occasional Jodie Mudd or Bruce Crampton or Michael Bradley to give hope to the other mortals.

In 2003, Vijay Singh missed birdie putts of 8, 12 and 25 feet on his final three holes of the U.S. Open second round to shoot 62. Four years later, Tiger Woods barely missed a final-hole birdie putt in Round 2 of the PGA Championship, leaving him with what was deemed a “62½.” And in 2010, Rory McIlroy couldn’t sink a short putt on the penultimate hole during the opening round at St. Andrews, only tying the mark as well.

On Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, it appeared the record may finally – mercifully – be broken.

After reaching 6 under through 15 holes on the par-70 course, Adam Scott needed to play his final three holes in 2 under in order to secure the number that has eluded every other golfer to compete in a major championship. He fired a dart for an approach on No. 16, leaving him with an easy birdie, which meant he needed to post just one more in his final two holes.

And then he started thinking about it.

“I was waiting to use the bathroom going to the 17th tee,” he later explained. “I did a look at the leaderboard and realized it was a par 70.”

Scott is a bright guy, one of the more introspective thinkers in the game today. Apparently he’s good with a little quick math, too, because he quickly understood what was riding on his impending finish.

Then he just as quickly understood that he shouldn’t have understood that.

“I also probably then realized that I wasn't going to be the guy to shoot 62,” he said. “It's one of those things that you don't want to go through your mind, thinking about your final score and stuff like that.”

Turns out, he was absolutely right.

Scott emerged from the bathroom and carded a par on the 17th hole, leaving one last chance to break the seemingly unbreakable achievement. His 2-iron off the tee on the par-4 final hole found the left rough. From there, he was only able to punch out of the thick heather, leaving himself about a 100-yard wedge shot from the fairway for the previously unattainable number.

Not only did the punched wedge shot fail to find the hole, but it only caught the front of the green, leading to a two-putt bogey and a 6-under 64 – one stroke shy of tying the 25-man major record.

“You know, making a bogey here or there is fine,” conceded Scott, who made two on the day. “Making doubles and triples (are) what really hurts. So just getting out of trouble was good.”

In the annals of history, Scott’s score may have left something to be desired, that magic number still composing its 153-year disappearing act.

In terms of this tournament, though, it was certainly nothing to hang his head over. The 64 gave him a one-stroke advantage in his latest attempt to claim a first career major victory.

After a lengthy bout of struggles on the first decade of his major championship resume, Scott has finished eighth or better in three of the last six. There are a few players who have come out of nowhere to win a major title without previously contending, but most take the circuitous route of Scott, stumbling along before increasingly bettering their performance level and finally breaking through.

His latest chance to earn some hardware may also be his greatest.

“I haven't achieved my goal of winning major championships,” Scott said. “That's what I've dreamt of as a kid and that's what I made goals when I turned pro and what I've thought about since turning pro, so I guess I haven't achieved that. … I've won a couple of tournaments most years, which is a good habit to have, because it's getting harder and harder to win out here. And I'm looking for a win this year. But I would say I haven't achieved what I wanted until I win a major or more.”

He almost achieved one major mark on Thursday, falling just shy of becoming the first player to post 62 in one of the four big events. Instead, the mystery of that magic number remains, the answer to a trick question that every player has asked, but none has ever solved.

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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.