Sutton Cracks the Shell in Houston

By Mercer BaggsApril 22, 2001, 4:00 pm
Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days after winning his last PGA Tour event, Hal Sutton won once again.

Sutton erased a two-shot overnight deficit by shooting an impressive 3-under-par 69 in very windy conditions to capture the Shell Houston Open.
Free Video - Registration Required Sutton comments on his Shell Houston Open win
This weeks victory was sweet redemption for the Louisiana native. Sutton finished runner-up in Houston in 1994 and 99.
Two years ago, he took a two-shot lead into the final round, but shot 75 on Sunday to finish one shot back of champion Stuart Appleby.
This is one that I wanted more than anything, said Sutton, who collected $612,000. Ive been close here so many times, so close yet so far, so this is really good. I knew it would be tough. Today, it helped to be packed with patience.
At 10-under-par 278, Sutton finished three shots clear of Lee Janzen and 54-hole leader Joe Durant.
For the seventh straight tournament, Janzen failed to break 70 in the final round. Winless since his 1998 U.S. Open triumph, he posted a 1-over-par 73.
Durant, seeking his third victory of the season, birdied his first hole Sunday, but then missed a pair of par putts inside three feet on the 2nd and 3rd holes.
That birdie at the first proved to be his last. Durant posted 14 pars and one bogey over his final 15 holes for a round of 2-over-par 74.
Durants bogey at the 3rd combined with a Sutton birdie at the 2nd gave Sutton sole possession of the lead at 9-under.
For the day, Sutton carded five birdies, but it was a bogey that saved his round.
Still leading at minus 9, Sutton hit his approach shot on the par-4 7th into the water guarding the front of the green. After placing his fourth shot 25 feet behind the hole, Sutton salvaged a bogey by sinking the putt.
That (bogey) was the turning point for me, said the 42-year-old. I could have come away with my confidence damaged, but I felt great.
Confidence intact, he carried that momentum into the next hole, lacing a 3-iron from 202 yards to within 15 feet of the hole at the par-3 8th. Sutton dropped the birdie putt to once again claim the outright lead at 9-under.
Another birdie at the 10th gave Sutton a two-shot cushion over Durant at 10-under.
Janzen bogeyed the 8th and double bogeyed the 9th to fall five off the pace. He tried to mount a late comeback by birdieing the 13th, 15th and 17th holes, but three-putted the home hole to tie for second place.
Following four straight pars, Sutton made his first mistake on the back nine at the par-5 15th. A missed fairway resulted in an errant lay-up. Playing from the rough, Suatton came up short of the green with his third shot.
Saturday, Sutton rolled in a 4-wood from off the green for an eagle at the 15th. He tried the same tactic on Sunday, but barely reached the green. He two-putted from 12 feet for a bogey 6.
Suttons lead was cut to one; however, Durant wasnt able to get any closer.
Durant failed to birdie the 15th, and then came up woefully short of the green on the par-3 16th. He bogeyed the hole to fall to 7-under.
Sutton then clinched the tournament by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the 17th. His round of 69 tied for the low score of the day.
Whoever was in control of the wind had it turned all the way up, Sutton said. It tests your nerves and what you have inside of you.
Sutton will now head to Greensboro, NC, where he will try and defend his title at the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic.
Full-field scores from the Shell Houston Open
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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.