True Impact Player Other Than Tiger
I thought about this on Thursday as Tiger Woods was rolling through his second round match with Tim Clark.
Through Thursday, Woods had more wins (24) in the Accenture Match Play Championship than anyone else. Hes number one in the world rankings by so wide a margin the race for No. 1 has become a non-story.
But if you could pick one player (not named Tiger, or Phil Mickelson) that could magically run off a seven win season and two majors.. that would change the game, that would change the way we look at the game, that would create a huge buzz and become a figure who would really become a global marketing superstar. who would it be?
Think about it. And for all of you who write me each week saying Tiger gets far too much conversation, coverage and praise, this is a challenge to handpick the person who could rival him in every way.
As for criteria perhaps we think beyond just on-course talent and skill, and add in some other factors like charisma, character, presence and possibly good looks.
For instance think about what would happen if, say, Adam Scott were the pick. Does he have all the attributes to change the game? Is he potentially as gallery-friendly as Phil?
Think about all the PGA TOUR players. Could Charles Howell be the guy? Friendly enough for sure, very talented. What about thinking outside the box and perhaps Matt Kuchar ' who, once upon a time, lit up the camera with a smile that wouldnt quit and had the golf media and fans abuzz when he was just an amateur.
We had this conversation around the office on Thursday and a few interesting names came up.
Chris DiMarco for one. Chris has had success, and for all his talents is appealing to the fans for his workman-like approach. He knows how to smile, he has fire and we think he could be quite marketable. Two majors in a year and seven wins this season would have people talking for sure. But would he change the game? Could he be global?
Camilo Villegas for another. This one really makes my ears perk up. Thirty-eighth on the PGA TOUR money list as a rookie last year. He has all the style you could ask for. Hes young and dashing and the ladies love him. He does that pretzel-like move while reading putts on the green. He has enormous talent. Two majors and seven wins would have people in Colombia going bananas even more than they already do. He would have global appeal and the ability to make zillions in marketing.
David Duval was the third. This name came from our Sprint Post Game producer who pulled out the PGA TOUR media guide and slapped it closed the minute he came across his name. Think about the buzz surrounding a guy who was at the top of the world and fell to the bottom. A guy who (while he wouldnt seek the attention) would get it from media around the world because of his story. People love stories like this. And two majors and seven wins would top any season by Tiger Woods. His personality wont wow anyone. But weve had plenty of boring actors and actresses who dont say much in front of the camera.
Send me yours, but sell me. Because I think the guy Ive come up with might be tough to beat.
Ian Poulter is my guy until further notice. I think were looking for a modern day Lee Trevino. A man with a merry make-up about himself. A cutting edge golfer who isnt afraid to be different. A guy whos his own man. A man with talent. Poulter with two major titles and a seven win season would turn golf upside down. He might not catch Woods atop the World Golf Ranking, but hed rival him for fans and buzz, and beyond England hed be a star all over the world. Golf crazy kids would be rushing to find Poulter Pants and kids would be spiking their hair like never before. American golf fans would be eating fish-n-chips and talking with a Hugh Grant-like accent.
Remember, this isnt about what will happen. Its about what might happen if we allow ourselves to create a star.
One mans thought from my desk amidst another crazy week of match play where no star is safe. So Im ready to create a new one.
I cant wait for yours!
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.