Billy Hurley III - January 6, 2012

By Morning Drive TeamJanuary 6, 2012, 1:11 pm

2004 U.S. Naval Academy Graduate and former Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Billy Hurley III earned his PGA TOUR card for 2012 by finishing 25th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour Money List. One of the things he is focusing on the most is his schedule for the 2012 PGA TOUR season. He had started 2011 on the Nationwide Tour with low status but was able to take advantage of a few exemptions to move up in priority before finishing runner-up in an event in Ohio in July. At that point he was hoping to make it to the final stage of Q-School before eventually earning his card at the Nationwide Tour Championship. Hurley learned that he had his card on the last day of the last event. He spent much of that day seeing what the various scenarios were before in the end getting his card after waiting 90 minutes following his last hole of the tournament. Golf-wise, it was the most stressed he had ever felt because the fate of his 2012 season was literally in the hands of other players.

When it comes to nerves in his life, the most nervous he had ever felt in golf was coming down the stretch in the final round of the 2011 Nationwide Tour Championship because he had to make a few clutch putts to keep the hopes of earning a PGA TOUR card alive. His experience in the Navy and having served in the Middle East gives him life experience and perspective which allows him to properly recognize the value of a putt during a tournament round and know that in the grand scheme of things, it is not really all that important.

He will begin his PGA TOUR career as a member next week in the Sony Open in Hawaii and he was a ship driver in the U.S. Navy in Hawaii as an officer. Being a ship driver teaches you how to react quickly to what is in front of you and he was able to win two awards for his ship driving ability. When he was on the USS Chung-Hoon in Hawaii, he was deployed twice to the Middle East where in his first deployment he helped guard oil units in Iraq as well as do some humanitarian work in the Philippines. In the second deployment, he went to Japan and also drove the ship through the Suez Canal which gave him a lot of confidence in his ability to be a leader. He will be seeing some of the officers that he served with on the USS Chung-Hoon next week when he is Hawaii for the Sony Open and is very excited to see the ship and all of the officers.

Following his year on the Nationwide Tour, he feels that he plays in a similar manner this year on the PGA TOUR he will have a successful rookie season. The trick is that he has to figure how to get his game to a point where he can consistently and confidently play his own game and know that his game and his body will hold up under pressure.

He is most excited to play Harbour Town on the PGA TOUR this year. He knows that he will need an exemption to play in the RBC Heritage this year but he feels that the course sets up well for his game as it is shorter course that requires a lot of accuracy off the tee and from the fairway.

Out of the players in the field at Kapalua, he feels that his game is most similar to David Toms as Toms is a veteran who is not a long hitter but can hit it straight on a consistent basis and obviously Toms has been able to go on to win multiple times on the PGA TOUR and have a great deal of success. He hopes to be able to spend time with a  number of veteran players including Ben Crane and Jonathan Byrd.

He was the first Lieutenant on the USS Chung-Hoon and agreed with Erik and Gary that the nickname of “The First Lieutenant” could work very well.

Starting low on the priority list, he is under a lot of pressure early on this year to play well in order to improve his status in the reshuffle in two months. Since he is starting at the bottom, he figures that there is no way to go but up. It is interesting that he is a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR but he does not have his choice of events right now although he wants to play well enough early on to change all of that.

Out of the other rookies on the PGA TOUR in 2012, he looks at players like Scott Brown and Jason Kokrak as those who can get off to great starts and turn in strong rookie seasons. Kokrak is a great player and thinks that he can hit it as long as anyone on the entire PGA TOUR, including players like Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland.

Last year, Hurley played in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Pro-Am with Gary Williams and his first piece of advice for Gary when it comes to playing competitive was to be at the first tee on time. Hurley enjoyed playing at Bay Hill last year and getting to meet Mr. Palmer and has hopes of playing there again someday.

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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.