Kanada the Pacesetter in Texas

By Marty HenwoodMarch 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeAUSTIN, Texas -- Texan Craig Kanada opened with a 7-under 63 Thursday to set the early pace at the Canadian Tours season-opening Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic presented by BG Products.

Kanada is in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead on fellow American Scott Ford while three-time champion Rob Johnson is two back. Seven others, including Canadians Rob McMillan, Philip Jonas, Craig Matthew, Scott McNeil and Chris Baryla, are minus-4.

Austin native and PGA Tour regular Omar Uresti, who won the Barton Creek Challenge last year playing on a sponsors exemption, is also 4-under.

Using a Pro-Am format, the season-opener is being held at the par-72 Fazio Canyons and par-70 Crenshaw Cliffside courses at Barton Creek Resort and Spa. After each competitor has played both layouts, the professional field will be cut to the low 60 players plus ties Friday. Those players will compete for the $100,000 purse on the weekend, with the final two rounds to be played at the Crenshaw course.

The low 15 pro-am teams, plus ties, will also make the cut, although the final round of the pro-am will be held Saturday.

Ford, the grandson of 1957 Masters champion Doug Ford, won the 2001 CanAm Days Championship and has Nationwide Tour status this year.

McMillan has also won three times on the Canadian Tour, while Jonas won the 2000 QuebecTel Open.

Jim Rutledge of Victoria, who is coming off a win at the Nationwide Tours ING New Zealand Championship last weekend, opened with a 67 on the Crenshaw course.

Ford and Kanada both played the Crenshaw course Thursday, a track that produced the lowest scores of the day.

With no wind and mild temperatures greeting players on the opening day, Kanada capitalized on his lead-group tee time, going 4-under on his front nine.

On the par-4 second, a hole that normally plays as a par-5, Kanada hit his approach from 175-yards to within ten feet before making the birdie putt. With close friend Bud Baker as his amateur partner, Kanada put up eight birdies and a bogey on his scorecard.

It was great to get out early this morning, said Kanada. Conditions were perfect for scoring, and I took advantage of it. It never hurts to have a good start, so Ill take it.

The former PGA and Nationwide Tour member had his best Tour finish here in 2003, finishing second to Swedens Anders Hultman.

I like this place, and especially this golf course, Kanada said when asked about Barton Creeks four championship courses. I was really comfortable out there. I was never in any real trouble. It wasnt a very stressful day.

Kanada doesnt think the two-course setup will throw him off Friday. Knowing he'll be in tough to match his performance on a more demanding course has him approaching the second round in a relaxed frame of mind.

I think it is easier playing on two golf courses. Tomorrow I will go out and play a tougher course, so I dont feel I have to try to back up a 63. With conditions like today, I could almost fire at every pin and try to make birdies. It will be different tomorrow.

Defending champion Scott Gibson, who won this event by nine shots in 2005, opened with a 3-over 73 at Crenshaw.

The Barton Creek Classic is the first of two consecutive tournaments at the resort. The Yes! Golf Barton Creek Challenge will be held next week.
 
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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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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.'"


    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."

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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."