The Young and the Restless

By Kraig KannSeptember 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
Annika Sorenstam defends this week at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic. No question shes the best player on the LPGA.
Given the Solheim Cup theater we witnessed last week, Im still convinced shes the player to beat in any tournament she plays. But is she still the undisputed star of the ladies game?
Somehow Paula Creamers name has really become the hot button for LPGA discussion. She made the claim that the USA would win, and they did. She played a huge role in that win, including a 7 and 5 dusting of the great Laura Davies in the Sunday singles matches. (By the way, Creamer is paired with Davies off the 10th tee in Round 1.)
Paula Creamer
Rookie Paula Creamer has taken the LPGA by storm in 2005.
At age 19, Creamer might be too young to know what shes saying at times, but her youth might just be what allows her to back it up. No fear. Creamer might not yet be the best player on the LPGA, but you could make the argument that she is the top draw at this weeks event.
Now we see what Creamer can do with her new status as the It Girl. How many wins before years end. Perhaps the ADT Championship to cap off her rookie season? Creamer, in my mind, has a huge opportunity the rest of the year to set the tone for next years LPGA majors.
Annika began 2005 saying it was her goal to win all four major championships in one year. She fell short. Now, I have a question for you. Does she have a fighting chance to accomplish that goal with Creamer in the mix? You tell me.
Mark Calcavecchia won last weeks Bell Canadian Open. A hearty congrats to Calc for getting back into the winners circle after a four-year drought. Calcavecchia became the seventh 40-something to win this season on the PGA Tour. At 45 years of age, he also became the oldest to win the Bell Canadian Open.
I talked with Mark early this season at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He told me he actually doubted hed get the 12th PGA Tour title he coveted. Watching players like Tiger and Vijay and Ernie and Phil, Calc thought he had to be too perfect to piece together a victory run. True, Tiger and Ernie and Phil were not in the field at Vancouver, but Calcavecchia found the winning formula on a tough course when many ' perhaps Calc himself included ' thought it might have been a tall order.
Mark finds his way to Kapalua once again. And I think thats great. I dont really care whos in the field. To win is to win. And to me, a Mark Calcavecchia win is a good thing for the PGA Tour. A likeable guy, a man with a major, a man with Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience deserves a pat on the back from golf fans.
But I ask you. is it good enough to garner your respect if the biggest names werent challenging him down the stretch? Calc was a restless player closer to the Champions Tour than to his form of old. Would you have rather seen him limp towards 50 or rebound to make his name commonplace once again?
Mark O Meara held a share of the lead after Day 1 at the 84 Lumber Classic. How do you feel about OMeara? Another man approaching the Champions Tour, Mark is 48 years old and deserving of respect for a career that included two majors in one year (1998) after he turned 40 years old.
How good would it be if OMeara were to catch lightning in the bottle this week and make it two straight 40-somethings holding trophies?
Sure, OMeara isnt the consistent force that he might have been a few years ago. But I think a win would be great for the PGA Tour. Proof yet again that these guys are good no matter what the birth certificate tells us.
Age is nothing more than a number. Doing it well at 19 ' some would say ' is just as improbable as doing it well at 45 or 48.
But isnt that the beauty of golf? Isnt that the intrigue of the professional game? Isnt a story or two like this great for headlines and copy when there are no majors left and there isnt always a Tiger, Phil or Ernie in the mix?

You tell me.
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.'"

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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.