Somethings Missing Heres a Cure

By Kraig KannAugust 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
No Tiger, Phil, Vijay or Ernie in Cromwell, Conn., this week. Make it six straight years now that Annika Sorenstam hasnt teed it up in Betsy Kings Wachovia LPGA Classic.
I hate to say it, but this week just hasnt felt right. Normally, I dont look for the negative in a weeks golf schedule. But its been tough to get excited this week.
All signs pointed to the seasons final major championship ' the JELD-WEN Tradition, but Day 1 play on Thursday was a day for the Ducks and the Beavers in Oregon, not the golfers. Too much rain falling to keep my spirits high.
Speaking of Ducks and Beavers, this is the time of year when football begins to dominate the national media. Cmon, tell me youre not going to tune in for USC vs. Virginia Tech!? Truth is that Fall is when excitement for golf falls off. The tours top players fall off as well. We wont see much of Woods, Mickelson, Els, maybe even Vijay.
Heres what our favorite sport needs: We need a new hero. We need a player to step up on the PGA Tour and get on a victory run. And why not a man whos ready to bust? Or how about a lady whos been off of our radar screen of late?
Here are some PGA Tour possibilities:
  • Charles Howell: Too much talent to be without a win this year, or last year. Just one win for Howell on the tour. We know hes got the ability. Being 34th on the money list isnt anything to complain about, but hed be a perfect story for the rest of the year.
  • Zach Johnson: Hes 29th in money. Like Howell, you can bet hell factor into many Ryder Cup conversations in years to come. Zach already has a win this year and a ticket to Kapalua. Might as well head to the Tour Championship with some real appeal.
  • Jonathan Byrd: A winner this year at the BC Open, Byrd has two career wins and has the ability to add 10 more before hes done. Great golf swing, great attitude. Throw in Chad Campbell and you might just have the four most talented American youngsters.
  • Hank Kuehne: Hes dangling at 109th on the money list. But his run in Hartford this week shows just how much ability he has. Among the players Im talking about, Hammerin Hank would be the biggest fan favorite. Plenty of length, but a bit short on results.

    p.s. Can we get Steve Stricker back on track for good? At 131st in money, hes got some heat on him. Hes also got plenty of support behind him. What about Brian Gay? Hes spent more money on Sunday than a third of the PGA Tour has made all year. Look at his Sunday numbers. A bit sad, actually.
    p.s.s. Can you believe Pat Perez, Craig Perks, Chris Smith, Steve Elkington, Rich Beem are well outside the coveted top 125?
    Here are some LPGA Tour possibilities:
  • Grace Park: Grace has the ability and the personality to be as big a draw for the LPGA going forward as Annika Sorenstam is now. Park is fourth on the money list right now, but halfway in money to Annikas $1,665.208. It would be great for the tour if Grace rode into the ADT Championship with a few more big moments.
  • Lorena Ochoa: Ochoa is a remarkable third in money. She turned professional in 2002. This year she won for the first time. Shes one of the LPGAs greats now ' it can only get better.
  • Natalie Gulbis: Natalies earned more publicity for her looks than her play. The numbers say we need to pay attention to what her clubs are saying. Natalies 41st on the money list ' very respectable. Shell win, and when she does, look out. The LPGA will promote her to no end.
  • Hilary Lunke: Since winning the U.S. Womens Open in 2003, Lunke had just 4 rounds in the 60s. That was before this week. Now she has six heading into weekend play at the Wachovia. Wouldnt a win be sweet?
    p.s. Can we get Karrie Webb back to form? Like the Champions Tour days of old when Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan battled every week, Sorenstam and Webb were a dynamic duo. For that matter, lets get Kelly Robbins playing better week-to-week instead of just the week of the U.S. Womens Open.
    p.s.s. Hard to believe whats going on with Kelli Kuehne (59th) and Beth Bauer (102nd). Both are looked at as a dose of the future of the Solheim Cup for the United States. Were a long way from next years visit to Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., and both look to be a long way off the game that will get them there.
    A couple of other things that could get people talking during weeks dominated by the Cowboys and the Patriots, the Bulldogs and the Seminoles.
  • D.A. Points, Jimmy Walker or Kevin Stadler winning for the third time on the Nationwide Tour and moving up to the PGA Tour.
  • Ben Crenshaw finding some magic on the Champions Tour before the year is out.
    Im not saying that Im desperate for some lightning in a bottle. But the facts are the facts. People will need a reason to stay on top of golf in the coming weeks. The Ryder Cup is only one week on the remaining schedule. We need something to spice things up.
    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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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.