Wrapping up two weeks in the United Kingdom

By Jay CoffinJuly 25, 2012, 4:06 pm

Emptying out the notebook from an 11-day excursion to Great Britain, including stops in Scotland, then England for the Open Championship.

• Visited Gleneagles, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Centenary Course is hard, really hard. Either hit it straight or you’re hurtin’ for certain. I failed to hit it straight.

• The King’s Course at Gleneagles is a hidden gem. It hosted the Scottish Open from 1987-94 and Ian Woosnam and Jesper Parnevik won during that span. Nice walk, cool layout, neat track.

• Played Royal Troon with a host family member from our Open Championship stay in 2009 at Turnberry. Weather called for 60-degree temps and a 90-percent chance of rain. Almost bailed. Glad I didn’t. It was 75 and sunny.

• Had never been to Troon before. Loved it. The 128-yard, par-3 eighth postage stamp hole is proof that size doesn’t always matter in golf. It’s an absolute beast. I blew it in the right bunker on the hole then had difficulty finding the green on the second.

• The back left bunker on the postage stamp is named the Coffin Bunker. Thankfully there was no Coffin v. Coffin on this day. If there were, clearly Coffin would’ve won.

• Journalists are jaded, I get that. Told family and co-workers before I left that I wasn’t fired up to go to the Open Championship and that there better be a good payoff at the end of the week. Um … got that in spades.

• Feel badly for Adam Scott. He played beautifully for 68 holes and was in complete control. Then it all unraveled so quickly and in front of the world to see. He handled it all with class and dignity, which isn’t a surprise.

• Hope Scott wins a major at some point, but you just never know. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did, wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t.

• Loved seeing Ernie Els become the beneficiary of Scott’s collapse. No one has more major championship scar tissue than the Big Easy over the last 20 years.

Phil Mickelson is widely accepted as the second-best player of this generation behind Tiger Woods. But now that Els has a fourth major, a case can be made that his career is better than Mickelson’s. Els has 65 career professional victories (19 PGA Tour, 27 European Tour) and four majors, Mickelson has 48 career victories (40 PGA Tour, seven European Tour) and four majors. Each is missing two legs of the career Grand Slam. I contend Mickelson’s career is much more impressive, but Els’ second Open Championship puts him in the discussion.

• Last year, Mickelson made us believe he found the key to success at the British Open. This year proved that was an aberration. He’s lost on links.

• Two words: Tom Watson. The 62-year-old made birdie on the 18th hole Friday to make the cut, then was out early on the chipping green Saturday morning grinding during a heavy drizzle. So cool.

• Love our sport. Seven crusty golf writers were sitting at the hotel bar one night debating where Watson would’ve ranked as an all-time sports story if he had won three years ago at Turnberry. Some said No. 1, many said inside the top three, but one out-of-touch scribe said it wouldn’t be anywhere near the top 10. It’s a fun debate. Too bad Watson didn’t actually win.

• No doubt Woods beat himself up over the final-round 73; he knows 69 would’ve got him in a playoff with Els. Sixty-nine would’ve been a tough ask with the windy conditions Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes but it was totally doable.

• Best line I heard from the week came from Peter Alliss, while commentating on ESPN. “I get seasick on a wet lawn,” he said. Lovely.

• Fell for the “fresh pie” two years ago at the Open, but never again. Thought the kind woman said “fresh pie.” Turns out she said “fish pie.” Big difference.

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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.