Two Arizonans Tied in Canadian Tour Event
Both carded a 3-under 69 and sit at 6-under 138 after 36 holes, one shot in front of Winnipegs Rob McMillan and Monday qualifier Paul Scaletta (Glen Allen, Va.). Rookie David Hearn of Brantford, ON, the leader after the opening round, is at 4-under 140.
Kontak, a five-time Canadian Tour champion and winner of the 1998 Order of Merit crown, hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and has used his length off the tee to play the par-5 holes at 3-under.
Im playing solid and not making a lot of mistakes, said the 30-year-old, who fired a 58 in a mini-tour event earlier this year. You have to play smart around this golf course. Im feeling confident right now, and at least Ive given myself a chance.
Friday featured an intriguing matchup when Kontak and Hank Kuehne, two of the longest hitters on tour, were paired together. While most would have seen this as a potential showdown between the big guns, Kontak was downplaying the five hours he spent with the 1998 U.S. amateur champion on the 7035-yard layout.
I was telling (caddie) Billy (Spencer), had I been 26-years-old I probably would have chased him all over the lot. But Hank is ridiculously long. He plays his game, I play mine, and well see where we are when this is all over.
For the second day in a row, gusting winds swirled throughout Barefoot, keeping birdies at a premium. But Reese, who has missed just one fairway in regulation over the first two rounds, was consistent again Friday and is going to keep the same approach for the weekend.
I felt like I put myself in good position all day, and you have to be good with your tee shots here or you are going to have problems, said Reese, who is coming off a tie for seventh at last weeks Michelin Ixtapa Classic. I have made some putts to keep rounds going, but Ive also had to make some up and downs. This is a tough golf course.
The second-year Tour player played a bogey-free second round, and has just one bogey over the first 36 holes. Asked what he may do differently on the weekend, Reese used the if-it-isnt-broke-dont-fix-it-approach.
Its going to be difficult for anyone to take it real low out here, so Im going with the same game plan. Ive played some good golf this week, and hopefully it continues (Saturday). Ill try to play fairways and greens and stay out of trouble.
McMillan missed the first cut of the season but has gradually improved after taking most of this past winter off. With Derek Gillespie boasting the best showing by a Canadian this year (2nd at the Scottsdale Swing at Eagle Mountain), McMillan feels it is time for the tours homegrown players to make a charge.
We have a lot of good players in Canada, and the more Canadians that can win the better, he said. I havent been razor-sharp this year after the layoff, but it is getting better. Every guy out here is trying to peak in October (for PGA Tour Qualifying School), so hopefully I will be ready. If that isnt the attitude you have, then you shouldnt be playing this game.
After struggling to a 5-over 77 Thursday, the 23-year-old Gillespie bounced back with a second round 67, enabling him to play on the weekend.
Full Coverage of the Barefoot Classic
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.