Oppenheim Wins Playoff in Austin

By Marty HenwoodMarch 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeAUSTIN, Texas -- A bad break for Jim Rutledge opened the door for Rob Oppenheim to win his first Canadian Tour title Sunday at the season-opener in Austin, Tex.

The 26-year-old from Andover, Mass. converted a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to win a four-man playoff at the Yes! Golf Barton Creek Classic presented by BG Products.

Oppenheim, Rutledge, Omar Uresti and overnight leader Craig Kanada each finished with a four-day total of 11-under 271.

One week after winning the Nationwide Tours ING New Zealand Championship, Rutledge, from Victoria, BC, posted a final-round 68, the same score put up by Oppenheim. Both players began the final day four shots back of Kanada.

In a matter of seconds Sunday afternoon, both Rutledge and Oppenheim missed ideal opportunities to win the event in regulation.

Nursing a two-shot lead with just two holes to go, Rutledge double-bogeyed the par-3 17th to come back to his closest pursuers. Up ahead on the 18th green, the leaderboard was being changed as Oppenheim stood over a 4-foot birdie putt. With Rutledges misfortune now up on the board, Oppenheim had a chance to jump ahead but missed the short attempt.

Three birdies over his final four holes, including a tricky 20-foot slider on the par-3 17th, gave Oppenheim a chance.

After signing his scorecard, the former Massachusetts amateur champion waited to see if his number would be enough to force extra holes.

After what Rut did on 17, I think it was a pretty lucky break just to get into the playoff, said Oppenheim. Its a funny game, but thats golf.

The foursome moved back to the par-4 18th tee to begin the playoff and all four found the green in two. After Uresti and Kanada missed long birdie putts, Oppenheim made a clutch 25-footer. Rutledge then stepped up and just missed a putt from 20 feet that would have extended the playoff.

On the final few holes, I was just looking to improve my standing', admitted the new champion. 'Winning the golf tournament never really crossed my mind.'

For Rutledge, it was a tough end in his bid to win twice in a week on two different continents. Turning for home at 1-under, the six-time Tour champion added three birdies and an eagle on the inbound nine to climb into top spot.

On 17, the turning point of the day, Rutledges tee shot seemed to be safe, hitting the back fringe. But the ball rolled back across the putting surface, almost hitting the pin before dropping into a hazard in front of the green.

I honestly hit a good shot there, said Rutledge. I caught a bad break on a difficult little hole. The guy in front of me hit the exact same shot and was fine.

Its too bad. I really wanted this one. I clawed my way back, but came up just short.

During the winter, Oppenheim lost a pair of mini tour playoffs in Florida, something he admits was on his mind as overtime loomed Sunday. But Oppenheims father, Jim, who also served as his caddie this week, had some basic rallying words for his son.

My dad told me Its about time you win one of these things, he said with a smile.

Ive been in contention a few times, and I knew I could win out here, added Oppenheim, who had a Tour-best third-place result last summer at the Montreal Open. To get a win under my belt this early in the year feels good. It was a great field out here this week, and to come out on top is special.

The Canadian Tour will remain at Barton Creek for this weeks Yes! Golf Barton Creek Challenge presented by BG Products, which gets underway Thursday.
 
Related Links:
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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.