This Spikes Not Soft

By Kraig KannJuly 21, 2002, 4:00 pm
Let's get this straight, OK? Spike McRoy came into the B.C. Open ranked 178th on the PGA Tour in putting. Yet he rolls one in from more than 40 feet on 18 to win the tournament? Yep, that's what happened.
McRoy wasn't much good in any of the statistics coming into the week in Endicott, N.Y. He was outside the top 150 on the money list. He'd missed five of his last seven cuts. And his best finish in some time was a tie for 50th in Memphis, Tenn., at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
But this is a guy who's been persistant if nothing else over his rather short PGA Tour career. He'd never kept his card in any season he's played on the big tour and his only hope this week was to keep rolling them in and hope for some late tournament help from the two men at the top of the leaderboard (Paul Gow and leader Shaun Micheel).
It all worked out. The Alabama Crimson Tide golfer, who'd won twice on the Buy.Com Tour in 2000, fired a final-round 65 including that bomb on the 18th for birdie to capture the B.C. Open for his first Tour title. More importantly, he's earned himself full exempt status the rest of this year and each of the next two years. And beleive me when I say that means a lot on the biggest tour of them all.
Here's how things have gone for McRoy over the last few years: He earns his way out on the PGA Tour in 1999 only to lose his exempt status and return to the Buy.Com Tour where he wins at Dakota Dunes and then late in the year at the Tour Championship to earn 'Player of the Year' honors and a return trip to the 'show.' Then in 2001 it all comes down to the final tournament in Mississippi where all McRoy needs to do at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic is make the cut to keep his spot in the top 125. He doesn't and thus he doesn't. McRoy finishes 127th which gives him limited starts this year.
At the beginning of the week at the B.C. Open, players were talking about 'opportunity.' The big names were at the British Open Championship and this week meant a great chance to beat some lesser competition while making some nice headway toward a spot inside the coveted top 125.
McRoy admitted to The Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz that he figured he didn't have a chance with Micheel and Gow lighting things up for the better part of three days. But strange things happen and McRoy proved that there's no reason to just 'play it out' on Sunday hoping for a big paycheck.
Micheel and Gow were the only two men inside the top 20 on the final leaderboard to play Sunday's round over-par. And McRoy's been around long enough to realize that those things can happen, so you'd better be ready.
You might say that McRoy 'lucked into' his first PGA Tour win. He probably doesn't care. But I'm here to remind you that he only made two bogeys over the final three rounds. And also tell you that every player with their name on their bag is apt to light it up on any given day or any given week to prove that he belongs. Spike McRoy is just the latest example of playing the game to win, and never taking opportunity for granted.
Nice job Spike. See you in Hawaii at the Mercedes Championships!
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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.