Am Tour: McDaniel overcomes rough start to win Jones flight

By Mike BaileySeptember 12, 2014, 11:02 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rich McDaniel got off to a rough start, but settled down after the first three holes, while Joe Moore used the support of his family, as both men nabbed the first two titles in the 2014 Golf Channel Am Tour Championships conducted at Talking Stick and Grayhawk golf clubs.

McDaniel, who held a nine-shot lead in the Jones Flight (handicap 16-19.9) going into the final round at Grayhawk's Raptor Course, bogeyed the first hole, topped his tee shot on the second hole for a double-bogey and almost missed a short putt for bogey on the third hole. In fact, after the second hole, his nine-shot lead was already down to six with 16 holes to go. Making double on the third hole could have started a downward spiral.

"I almost missed it," said McDaniel, who owns a real estate appraisal company in San Diego. "It went around the cup and dropped. It was going to be another double bogey, and I thought my tournament was over. But when it dropped, it just kind of released all the stress, and I said to myself, 'I'm ready, game on; let's go.'"

McDaniel wound up shooting 88, which was more than good enough as he finished four strokes better than the field, with a total of 335, 50-over par. His closest competitor, who shot the low round of the day at 81, was Clint Payton of Seymour, Ind., but he just had too much ground to make up.

"I'm on Cloud 9 right now," McDaniel said. "This was very fun and exciting."

McDaniel, who admits he has an addictive personality, says his compulsion for everything, including golf, might have helped him notch his first national title.

A few years ago, he quit the club where he was a member and just started playing tournament golf. This year, despite working 12-hour days, often seven days a week, he managed to play in 50 golf tournaments, many of the them on the Am Tour. That experience, combined with his volunteer work as a coach for his son's middle school golf team, helped him prepare for this week, he said.

Moore wins Snead flight 


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Joe Moore credited his whole family for his sucess this week, including son Craig and wife, Kim, who caddied for him.


For Moore, the fire chief for the Clarkdale (Ariz.) Fire District, winning the Golf Channel Am Tour's Snead flight (20 and over) truly was a family affair. In addition to Moore, his son Craig also competed in the Palmer Flight (handicap 4-6.9) and improved each day, finishing with 80 in the final round.

But the spotlight belonged to mom and dad on Friday. Both of them, because Joe Moore and his wife Kim played as a team. You see, Kim served as caddie for her husband, who was decked out like a tour player in long slacks, white belt and neon green shirt. Not only did she clean his golf balls and clubs and help with yardage, but he said she gave him the moral support and confidence to play his best. In the end his 94 on Friday on the North Course at Talking Stick was good enough to come from three shots back and claim the crystal.

"I honestly don't know if I could have done it without her," said Moore, who also heaped plenty of praise on tournament organizers, golf course staff and the courses as well.

Kim is very familiar with her husband's game. They play together almost every weekend as a family (including Craig) around their home in Cornville, Ariz., which is about 100 miles north of Scottsdale. Kim, in fact, is usually the organizer, gathering the troops, trying to figure out which course they're going to play in the area. Sometimes, they even make trips over to Sedona to play the courses there.

Perhaps playing all that desert golf gave Moore a bit of an edge over players from the rest of the country, but it certainly didn't come easy. He made several doubles and a quad, but also had five pars. Fortunately for Moore and the rest of the field, the third-round leader, Samuel D'Alfonso of Key Biscayne, Fla., had an even tougher day, shooting 103, which allowed Moore to walk through the door.

 

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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.