Star-Studded Field at Bighorn

By Lpga Tour MediaOctober 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 Samsung World ChampionshipPALM DESERT, Calif. - Getting into this week's Samsung World Championship is like securing a table at a chic new restaurant. It's pretty difficult to do, but the rewards are well worth the effort, as 20 of the best golfers in the world will find out this week.
 
The $825,000 event is the most exclusive on Tour and the credentials of the 20 participants competing are much longer than any maitre d's VIP list. The 6,472-yard Canyons Course at the prestigious BIGHORN Golf Club plays host to the four-day, 72-hole stroke play event.
 
One thing is for certain, whoever wins this week will gain entry, or in some cases re-entry, into an even more exclusive club, as only 16 women have won the Samsung World Championship, which is now in its 24th year.
 
Sophie Gustafson is back as the defending champion after holding off Beth Daniel and Rachel Teske by two strokes last year, but her mettle is sure to be tested this week as the field list reads as a who's who in the women's game today.
 
LPGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame members Annika Sorenstam and Juli Inkster are sure to be in it to the very end. Sorenstam is a five-time winner in 2004 and three-time winner of the Samsung World Championship (1995-96 and 2002). She is unquestionably the best golfer in the world and ranks sixth on the official LPGA career wins list with 53, just two shy of fellow Hall of Famer Betsy Rawls for fifth place.
 
Inkster is still searching for her first win in 2004, but is always at her best when the lights are the brightest. Like Sorenstam, three of Inkster's 30 Tour wins have come at the Samsung World Championship (1997-98 and 2000), and seven of her wins have been courtesy of a major championship.
 
Meg Mallon and Se Ri Pak are the two other former winners of the Samsung World Championship teeing it up this week. Mallon was the 1991 champion and is enjoying one of the best seasons of her career. She has won three events this year, which includes the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA, and crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings for the first time in her career.
 
Pak, the 1999 champion, won the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill this year to reach the requisite 27 points required to gain entry in the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame, and will be fully eligible after completing the required 10 years on Tour.
 
Lorena Ochoa is third on the ADT Official Money List after earning her first and second career wins on Tour this year. One of most consistent players this year with 16 top-10 finishes, Ochoa is always lurking near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
 
Grace Park, who along with Sorenstam, Mallon and Ochoa, has amassed more than $1 million in earnings this year, is looking to bookend her year with her second victory of the season. She triumphed at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March just a few miles down the road in Palm Springs, Calif., and could add another high note with a win this week.
 
Also in the field are 2004 tournament winners Cristie Kerr, Karen Stupples, Hee-Won Han, Jennifer Rosales, Karrie Webb, Christina Kim, Wendy Doolan and Catriona Matthew.
 
Rounding out the elite field are Mi Hyun Kim, Jeon Jang, the 2004 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Shi Hyun Ahn, Laura Davies and 14-year-old amateur sensation Michelle Wie.
 
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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.