Young Stars Manage Success

By Lpga Tour MediaDecember 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The season-ending ADT Championship was comprised of quite an impressive field, but most impressive were the players aged 25 and younger who made it to the top 30 on the ADT Official Money list.
The list included eight players: Angela Stanford (25); Hee-Won Han (25); Grace Park (24); Hilary Lunke (24); Dorothy Delasin (23); Jeong Jang (23); Candie Kung (22); and Lorena Ochoa (22).
These young players were among the elite group completing the season at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., two weeks ago, but many other young players showcased their talents this year, all while managing their success and life on the road on their own.
Entering the real world can be intimidating for most young adults, whether 18 and just out of high school or 22 and just out of college, but the prospect of making it on your own can be especially daunting for a young professional athlete.
At any age, life as a professional golfer can be a challenge, yet many of the young stars on the LPGA Tour successfully handle a professional career and the responsibilities of life on the road. Michelle McGann, Cristie Kerr, Dorothy Delasin, and Christina Kim are a few of the active LPGA players who joined the LPGA Tour right out of high school.
Goals of making it big on the professional circuit kept them from attending college and led them to chase their dreams of being a top name on the LPGA Tour. Visions of owning ones own home and being financially independent also are driving forces toward success.
For some young players, a difficult aspect about making it on the LPGA Tour is growing into their own personality while being independent, but also dealing with the hardships of missing their families.
This was the case earlier in the year for the 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico.
The most difficult thing about success at this age is making the sacrifice to be away from my family in Mexico, said Ochoa, who just turned 22 on Nov. 15. My biggest responsibilities right now are to work hard and have the determination to keep practicing.
Ochoas hard work and hours of practice definitely paid off as she finished the season ranked ninth on the ADT Official Money List, becoming only the 16th player in LPGA history to reach the top-10 on a season-ending money list prior to her 25th birthday.
The 22-year-old had eight top 10s this season, including two runner-ups and three third-place finishes en route to winning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year. With the season concluding, Ochoa can now spend some time in Mexico with her family.
For Natalie Gulbis, who turns 21 on Jan. 7, 2004, one of her most challenging, yet rewarding, tasks this year was buying her own house.
The most exciting part about buying my own place is just having a place to call your own, said 20-year-old Natalie Gulbis, who bought her first house at Lake Las Vegas on Reflection Bay Golf Club in Nevada and finished ranked 39th on the ADT Official Money List. Its a fun process to decorate and pick out everything, and its a nice outlet because Ive never had a hobby outside of golf.
Delasin, who won the 2000 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year at the age of 19, is the youngest player currently on the LPGA Tour with four career victories. Delasin won her fourth victory last month at the Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions. With the wins came money, excitement, publicity but also more responsibility.
The best part about having success at a young age is that I bought my car and a house for my family with my own money, Delasin said. It was the best feeling just to be able to do it on my own. One of the most unexpected parts is that no one thought I could win.
Delasin became the youngest player in LPGA history to reach $1 million in career earnings in 2002 at the age of 21 years, 7 months and 12 days. She is one of seven LPGA Tour players who have reached the top 30 on the season-ending money list by the age of 20, which she did in 2000, joining Brandie Burton, Donna Caponi, Sandra Haynie, Carol Mann, Judy Rankin and Kathy Whitworth.
Delasin says one of her biggest responsibilities is paying the bills and keeping her place clean, which is difficult since shes hardly ever there, so this is where her help steps in.
I have a great management, Delasin said. My agent pays for all my bills so I dont have to worry about it. All I do is play golf. Im pretty lucky with that.
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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.