Short Takes on Current Issues
MY TAKE: Stadler was absolutely in the wrong. He apologized quickly and seemingly has taken the right route on this thing, saying, I take the offense very seriously. Im embarrassed and I can assure you that I will not repeat my mistake. Now, lets be honest about this. Many have taken to the road after a few drinks, and to my knowledge Craig hasnt made habit of failing on-road sobriety tests. So, while I certainly dont offer up a large dose of sympathy, lets not make Stadler out to be some full-blown criminal. I trust hell handle this the right way. I do, however, wonder if Stadlers age might allow for some public leniency. Hes one of the biggest stars on the Champions Tour, not the PGA Tour. If a young PGA Tour star was involved in a similar incident, would his public penalty be stiffer? The Walrus will be hurt by this, and he should. But how much will he? How much should he? Wanna bet his next winners check goes to MADD?
NEWS:Hale Irwin wins the Senior PGA Championship on Monday. Thats 40 Champions Tour wins, and seven Champions Tour majors - including four Senior PGAs.
MY TAKE: Its high time we all started celebrating this guys every achievement. He turned 59 on Thursday and shows no sign of taking his wins and going home. Hale still finds lightning when the big tournaments come around. And dont think for a minute that holding off the Jay Haas victory speech didnt mean something extra. Bottom line is Irwins something special. Hes set the Champions Tour standard for the future in many ways. He never dodges the interview and promotes the tour as well as anyone has.
NEWS:Hal Sutton shows up to Memorial Tournament to oversee some important tailoring. Ryder Cup potentials 1-25 on the current points standings were measured for duds on Monday.
MY TAKE: Sutton wasnt even playing this week! But he deemed it important to be there for the meet-and-greet with the guys. Steve Flesch is currently in the top 10 in points and said, 'The fact that Hal was there is awesome. Anybody who doesnt get excited about playing for Captain Sutton is missing the boat.' Sutton is as patriotic as they come. The Ryder Cup is huge to him. And take nothing away from any of the other recent American captains, but Sutton can motivate without saying a single word. So far, hes done everything right. Monday at Memorial was the latest example and I dont see it changing, or for that matter, Europe winning.
NEWS:Jack meets with the media at his own event and spends much of his interview holding off the scribes about a decision on his future.
MY TAKE: Its not the medias decision to make. Its not the golf publics decision to make. On one side, Im growing a bit weary of listening to Jack talking about when his competitive days will end. More than anything, Im growing frustrated with media members who keep asking Nicklaus about hanging it up. Its his decision. Its his right to decide. And frankly, its his right to bring up the issue - nobody elses. Let Jack go out when Jack wants to go out. Enjoy it when he plays, root for him to play and cherish every round as though it might be his last. He deserves to let us know when enough is enough. Enough said.
NEWS:Colin Montgomerie says he wont attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.
MY TAKE: It sounds like they wont, but I wish the USGA would give him a special exemption. Call me crazy, but for all the moments that American fans have found it in them to ride Monty harder than Smarty Jones, this would be a nice opportunity to show a different side. Montys struggling. His marriage is in shambles. His game isnt much better. Wouldnt it be cool to hear some of the New York faithful show some love and support? I think so.
NEWS:USGA extends Michelle Wie a special exemption for the U.S. Womens Open and the USGA is catching serious heat from some.
MY TAKE: The exemption isnt new news. The USGAs reaction is. In a perfect world, the 14-year-old amateur should have to qualify. Thats if we played things by the book. I think this should be different. Wie top-fived in the years first LPGA major, and if she was able to earn money for her LPGA play this year, shed qualify for the U.S. Womens Open based solely on where shed be on the money list. Some LPGA players are grumbling. Its their right but it doesnt mean theyre right to not think things through clearly. Wie will increase the television ratings, which ultimately is good for all those competing. In turn, it gives stars like Annika, Grace Park, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr and others a bigger stage on which to shine and showcase their tour. It also gives lesser knowns like, gulp, struggling defending champ Hillary Lunke a bigger chance to shine. Also, shouldnt the USGA help its very best amateurs from time to time? Growing the game means taking care of those who look to be difference makers. If you say 'no' now, you only stoke the flames on a burning desire to head toward the mens game.
NEWS:Curtis Strange is unable to work things out with ABC. So he heads to the Champions Tour and heads at ABC look for a replacement.
MY TAKE: Cmon, Zinger! I dont pretend to know what Paul Azingers thinking about his immediate future. What I do know is that he was awesome at the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill. His resume speaks for itself and when he speaks, people listen. Fans love his grit and his game. The media loves his honesty. Zingers the best out there. The question is will, he go in there? Just dont take Steve Flesch! In fact, dont even think about it!
1. My 6/4/04 Favorites at the U.S. Open ' Mickelson, Els, Singh, Weir.
2. Annikas won three of six starts in 04. She averages 21 starts a year. You do the math.
3. I firmly believe the belly putter is giving more than just Ernie Els indigestion. This thing has to come to a head soon. If the USGA wont slow down the distance debate, can they get a grip on this one?
4. Who wins first on PGA Tour: Stephen Ames or Tiger Woods?
5. You get one captains pick for 04 Ryder Cup: Haas or Daly?
I cant wait for the U.S. Open. I was there in 1995 when the Golf Channel was in its first year on the air. My, how things have changed! Hope to see you there.
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.