Wendy Ward by One

By Martha BrendleJune 21, 2001, 4:00 pm
The McDonalds LPGA Championship began back in 1955 - the purse that year was $6,000 with $1,200 going to the winner. This years purse has increased to a bountiful $1,500,000 with $225,000 earmarked for the winner.

Competitors are raving about the condition of the golf course for this major saying its in great shape - perhaps the best shape ever. Tight fairways and small greens slanting from back to front make this old style golf course an ideal site for the third major of the season to take place.
Spectacular conditions, albeit hot and humid, have produced excellent first round scores. Akiko Fukushima and Becky Iverson completed their morning rounds at 5-under-par 66.
But it was Wendy Ward, playing through the afternoon winds, who recorded seven birdies and one bogey to take the lead by one stroke at 6-under 65.
Ward owner of two Tour victories made the turn at 5-under par after tearing up the back nine. She made bogey on the par-4 third but quickly recovered overtaking the early round leaders. Its just exciting to be in contention again, Ward said.
I just started to ride a nice little wave of comfort. Im starting to drive the ball well --drive it long and strait and Im finally getting to see some putts drop into that little cup.
Fukushima finished bogey-free Thursday while Iverson recorded six birdies and one bogey.
There is more at stake than the winners share of the purse this week when you take into consideration the potential historical significance of this week.
Take, for instance, Juli Inkster, who finished even-par 71 for the day. Shes a two-time defending champion at this event, having won in 1999 at 16-under and in 2000 at 3-under.
A win this week would put her name in the history books as one of only two players to have won a major championship three years in a row.
Then there is Laura Davies. Davies, winner of 20 LPGA Tour events, is two points - or one major - short of qualifying for the Hall of Fame. A win this week would make her the first Englishwoman to be qualify for the Hall of Fame.
Davies returns to the site of three career wins, two of which occurred as a member of the LPGA Tour (1994 & 1996).

Its a great golf course for my game. A lot of the holes require a left to right set-up which is perfect for me.
After another one of her career slumps, the long-ball hitter overcame her jitters to win this year's Wegmans Rochester International, thus ending a 13-month winless streak.
Im obviously a lot more confident now, not particularly with my driver, but with my irons and my putter.
Even though Davies stumbled through three bogeys, her first round finished at a respectable 4-under-par 67.
It wouldnt be a major without mentioning Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.
Webb and Sorenstam both lurked behind the leaders all day.
Sorenstam finished her round just moments prior to the horns blowing. At 5:20 p.m. EDT, tour officials suspended play due to inclement weather, and Sorenstam ' sporting a smile and a look of relief - was done for the day.
The weather picked up in what seemed like just two minutes, The winner of five titles this season said. For a while I thought a tornado was coming in. The balls were flying everywhere.
Sorenstam recorded four birdies and a bogey on the par-3 13th to finish at 3-under-par 68.
I worked with my instructor, Henry, last week, Sorenstam said. And I wasnt in the rough all day. I was never really in trouble.'
Webb's competitive juices are flowing. The Aussie could very well complete her career grand slam with a win this week, becoming the youngest and fastest to ever do so.
Webb finished in good position Thursday, tied for fourth at 4-under-par 67.
I got off to a quick start today and from there I felt pretty comfortable on the course, Webb said just moments after walking off the 18th.
I rolled a really good putt in for eagle on the 16th, Webb said of a round that consisted of three birdies, one eagle and a lone bogey.
The Australian, ranked second on Tour in greens in regulation with a 75% mark, has a simple strategy for the rest of the week: Fairways and greens, and hopefully the putter will roll a couple of putts in for me.
Annika won the first major of the year (Nabisco) and Karrie won the second major (U.S. Womens Open). The competition between the two is fierce. The third major is on the line and Sorenstam has her eyes cast on the prize.
I don't know what Karrie is up to but I know what I want.
Full-field scores from the McDonald's LPGA Championship
Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.