Duo Deadlocked Up North

By Marty HenwoodJuly 19, 2003, 4:00 pm
EDMONTON, AB -- For 18 holes Saturday, Americans Chris Wall and Rob Johnson waged a tug-of-war battle during the third round of the TELUS Edmonton Open. On Sunday, theyll have the chance to do it all again.
Both players didnt exactly tear up Windermere G&CC Saturday, a day that the course was at its knees, but their 54-hole total of 9-under 204 is still good enough for a share of the lead. Arden Knoll of Kelowna, BC, Jason Enloe and Stephen Woodard are one shot back, while Alberta amateur Mike Mezei is in sole possession of sixth spot at 7-under.
Aussie Scott Hend took advantage of perfect scoring conditions early in the morning to post a course record-tying 7-under 64 to vault from a tie for 60th all the way to a 7th-place deadlock with Calgarys Dustin Risdon.
It looked like Wall, who had his best career finish earlier this year when he placed third at the Corona Ixtapa Classic, would have the outright lead before struggling to back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16. The fact that those within striking distance couldnt pull away from the pack raised a few eyebrows.
No one near the top did anything today, and that was a bit of a surprise, admitted the 28-year-old Dallas native. Myself, I missed a couple of birdie opportunities I had. It was a very boring round, and then I stubbed my toe coming in. Those two holes were horrible.
Johnson will go looking for his second win of the season six months after winning the TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Challenge, an event that was weather-shortened to 36 holes. He hit an early speed bump Saturday with a double-bogey on the third hole but was able to bounce right back with a birdie on No. 4.
In Texas, Johnson watched the Sunday drama unfold as he sat in the comfort of a Golf Channel broadcast booth after wrapping up his second round the day before. On Sunday, he wont have that luxury.
This will be a totally different situation than in Texas, but we should have a lot of fun tomorrow, said Johnson. We both had chances today, but that doesnt matter right now. You still have to win this thing Sunday.
On Sunday, Wall will once again walk the 6,756-yard layout with Johnson, a good friend on and off the course. He has had his chances to notch his first Tour win, most notably in Ixtapa only to see Canadian Derek Gillespie catch fire in the final round en route to an eight-shot triumph.
I had that chance in Ixtapa but after Derek blew everyone away, I was basically playing for second. Tomorrow will be a new test for me. Ill just go home, have a good sleep, get out here tomorrow and see if I can get it done.
After making the cut on the number at 1-over, Hend had it to 8-under for the day through 12 holes before back-to-back bogeys late in the round. Six days after losing in a playoff across the pond in British Open qualifying, Hend was frustrated that he let some opportunities get away that would have narrowed the gap even further.
Talk about messing it up- I cant seem to do anything at all on the back side here, said Hend. With nine birdies and an eagle, you should do better than 7-under. Its disappointing, but golf is like that- what could have been.
Knoll continues to be the surprise of the week. With just 20 percent vision in his right eye after a freak accident three years ago, the 40-year-old, with a grand total of two tournament rounds under his belt in the last two seasons, has showed flashes of his former brilliance that made him one of Canadas top golfers in recent years.
I hit the ball so bad today, but I chipped and putted like a demon and was able to save something, said the 1996 Payless Open champion. It doesnt really matter what happens tomorrow- this has been a great week and Im still here.

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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.