Questions From Colonial
Why is only one player among the Big 4 here this week?
My gosh ' this place has great history and it also tests every part of your game. Kenny Perry hit the media center Thursday and said he thinks other players are missing the boat. Perry won here in 2003 and currently leads the PGA Tour in Total Driving and Greens in Regulation. And while I know that those two statistics really help around this ball-strikers course ' his length seems proof enough that theres something for everyone here.
Is the shorter golf course really a thing of the past on the PGA Tour?
Doesnt seem like it. Roughly 7000 yards and a par 70, Colonial Country Club is playing fast and firm this week. And while Patrick Sheehan made a run at 59 on Thursday, Colonial is just as apt to punish someone whos just a step off. Insert my good buddy Steve Flesch ' the defending champion birdied the first hole and then boarded the bogey train and couldnt get off. The man whod posted 8 straight rounds of 69 or better here finished with 79 on Thursday. His scoring average at Colonial was better than Ben Hogans. And Hogan won five times. Go figure. This place is no gimme.
Do we just like to see how far guys hit it?
Sure ' we love length. Kenny Perry hit driver and 6-iron into the 1st hole which is a par-5. And Perry joined many in hitting driver and sand wedge into the finishing par-4 18th. I must admit that I dont like a finishing hole that requires just a wedge in to win the tournament ' but it does provide for some drama. Colonial is all about working the ball. Thats a good thing. Left to right, right to left. And you really need to hit the shots around the greens. The beauty of Colonial is that you dont have to hit it high and land it soft. You can run it up, around and down. I love it. The wind can make a big difference too. Rough here isnt ankle deep and it doesnt need to be. I say ' more courses like Colonial.
Can a blind man win?
Kenny Perry walked into the media center on Thursday after a round of 65 and talked about how he couldnt see very well. I cant see the balls land on the greens, Perry said. He was talking about how a LASIK surgery in 1998 didnt quite work and how hed had it done again in 1999. Perry said hes struggling with reading the greens and plays much better when its sunny. A doctor told him hed have trouble passing a drivers test right now and hes set to visit another next week before going to Memphis where hell ' gulp ' where a pair of glasses at the FedEx St. Jude Classic next week. Is this crazy or what? We joked on the Sprint Post Game that hell have no trouble getting ahead of himself this weekend because he cant possibly look at the leaderboards ' he cant read them anyway!
If Ted Purdy wins again ' is that a good thing?
I say yes. Nobodys won the Nelson and then the Colonial in back-to-back weeks. Purdy is right in the thick of it again this week after winning the EDS Byron Nelson Championship for his first PGA Tour title. Purdy came on the Sprint Pre Game on Wednesday where he talked about having set goals to make the Presidents Cup team at the beginning of the season. More power to him for big thinking. Teds a guy we can relate to. The PGA Tour should definitely have room for the Purdys and the Petrovics.
Speaking of those guys ' whos next to capture our attention?
Ill give you some names to watch for over the coming weeks who arent in the Top 20 in the World Golf Ranking. Watch out for Billy Mayfair. Hes back and doesnt appear far from finding himself in the hunt come late Sunday. Watch for Lucas Glover and D.J. Trahan. I love the poise these two youngsters show. On Thursday here I was watching play at the 10th tee. Glover, who is 39th in money ($808,273), was waiting as rookie D.A. Points was preparing to hit. A man walks by the tee talking on his cell phone. Glover stops the proceedings and tells the man to turn it off or put it on vibrate. After shaking his head, Glover watches Points hit, then steps up with an iron at the par-4 and wasting no time at all (and wearing no glove) promptly rrrrrrrrips one right-to-left into the middle of the fairway. This guy can play. And nothing seems to disrupt his rhythm.
What do we make of Sean OHair?
A lot, actually. By now you know the story. O Hair turned professional at 17 under the watchful eye and tough standards of his father who turned his professional attention and career into making one for his son. Now theres a lawsuit pending as the father wants paybacks for all the work he put into his sons career. Sean finished second at the Nelson last week and this week looks at the money list where hes now A.) assured of keeping his card for next year and, B.) one spot ahead of Davis Love III at 32nd. Rooting for OHair is easy. Ripping his father for treating his son as a family investment is easy. But before we do ' lets consider Seans plight. Imagine being him and hearing people lay into your father. You might agree but it certainly doesnt making things any easier. O Hair has plenty of game to make it big. I hope he stays the course and I hope dear ol Dad realizes that kids should be kids and no parent should look at their child as their future nest egg. Support is one thing, control is another.
Can a caddie turn a mans game bad?
Ask Steve Flesch. Last year I hauled his bag on pro-am day here and he went on to win. So this year we figured wed keep things the same in hopes of a chance to repeat. Flesch shot 79 on Thursday and said the disappointment of not having a chance to successfully defend was tough to take. He feels terrible ' I dont feel so great either. All I know is that he said I was definitely employable. Even still ' last year he bogeyed the first two holes in the pro-am. This year he birdied the first two. Maybe that was it.
I wish Flesch was going to have the chance come Sunday. But right now ' it seems like Kenny Perrys the man to beat. One thing I know for sure ' theres nothing wrong with ol Colonial Country Club. Were set for a shoot-out and some of the other big names ought to consider taking part.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.