Anybody Else Playing this Wie-k

By Kraig KannJanuary 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
In 2004, Michelle Wie teed it up at the Sony Open in Hawaii as a ninth grader and the range was like the line at Best Buy when X-Box 360 came out. You couldnt find a spot, you couldnt get a glimpse, and you couldnt begin to imagine what was on the way.
Now, shes older, perhaps wiser and the resume ' while loaded with top finishes on the LPGA ' is without a professional win of any kind.
She tees it up this week on the GOLF CHANNEL and will no doubt get some airtime. But this week is about the PGA TOURs best available talent as the season really takes off.
The first full-field event gives us a chance to check back with Vijay Singh ' whos now fifth in the World Golf Rankings and ushering in a new year with thoughts of doing more damage to the over-40 record books.
It gives us a chance to see if Steve Strickers Comeback Player of the Year honor carries any momentum into a new season.
It gives us a chance to see if Charles Howell III can get off to a start that makes us remember what we were thinking just a few years ago.
It gives us a chance to remember Jerry Kellys win of a few years ago at the Sony Open and see if hes ready to step it up a notch in a Presidents Cup year.
It gives us a chance to see if J.B. Holmes can out drive Bubba Watson or if Bubba Watson can out drive J.B. Holmes or if Bubba Watson can play like he did a year ago at Waialae when he finished fourth.
It gives us a chance to see young 21-year-old Anthony Kim, who has nearly won twice on the PGA TOUR despite a hand injury that set him back.
It gives us a chance to catch up with Matt Kuchar whos won a PGA TOUR event, lost his PGA TOUR card, and now has returned from the Nationwide Tour with new confidence and higher hopes for consistency.
It gives us a chance to watch his fellow Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Bryce Molder and another former young gun in Jeff Quinney, who won a U.S. Amateur but hasnt been able to make a dent as a pro.
It gives us a chance to see if David Toms ' like Vijay a 40-something now himself ' can successfully defend his Sony Open title and put his name in the water cooler conversation.
It gives us a chance to see what might become of former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, who now can play without thinking about being a Ryder Cup captain.
It gives us a chance to see how Paul Azinger will play now that he is saddled with Ryder Cup responsibility.
It gives us a chance to see if John Daly can forget about trying to keep up with J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson and try to stay ahead of those who possess half of his talent.
Do you get my point? This week isnt about Michelle Wie.
'No one really talks about it,' Hawaiian PGA TOUR star Dean Wilson said. 'You know she's going to play. We've all seen her play. We've all seen her on TV. She's so popular that there's not much curiosity. You just cheer for her to make the cut.'
And thats no slight on Michelle. Its just proper perspective that this event isnt about the teenager. In PGA TOUR circles, its more about her playing competitors Gavin Coles and Stephen Marino who have designs on making their own waves in the years first full-field event.
By the weekend, well know what Michelles done and if shes done. Well also know if Vijay Singhs on his way to giving us a storyline that gives PGA TOUR fans reason to chatter before Phil Mickelson makes his way to the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic ' hosted by George Lopez and before Tiger Woods tees it up at the Buick Invitational.
Ive hardly been rooting against Wie this week. The opposite in fact. But I do consider myself a realist. And so far theres no reason to think beyond simply the new year on the PGA TOUR and all that its members have to play for.
See you all year on the Sprint Post Game ' right after PGA TOUR coverage.

Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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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.