Jay Townsend - July 11, 2012

By Morning Drive TeamJuly 11, 2012, 12:41 pm

European Tour Analyst Jay Townsend joined Morning Drive on Wednesday from the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links. This is the second year that the Scottish Open is being played at Castle Stuart and players love the course because the links course provides great preparation for The Open Championship and it is designed to create confidence in players by providing plenty of opportunities to make birdies.

Appearance fees are a way of life on the European Tour and although many would not like to admit it, it has been a way of life in the United States as well. The difference is that the European Tour has been more open about it and players are not under the impression that there are not appearance fees on the PGA TOUR because there are appearance fees although they may not carry that exact label.

The reaction to the 8-man Match Play event in Turkey this October from the European Tour is that it is a win-win situation in that the Match Play event will have a great field and starting in 2013, there will be a full-field event in Turkey. In a world where the economy is as unstable as it is, the European Tour is definitely happy to add the Turkish Open to the schedule starting next year.

Phil Mickelson typically plays the week before Major Championships and when you consider that he has been in a bit of a slump lately, it is a very good thing that he decided to play this week. Castle Stuart is a course that is setup to create confidence in players so this is a great chance for Mickelson to get his game back on track.
In his second visit to Wednesday’s Morning Drive, Townsend began by saying that Lee Westwood had a bit of a scare last week in Paris when he hurt his right knee and groin muscle before the third round of the Alstom Open de France. The reason it was a scare was because the injury was the same one that he suffered in 2010 which derailed what was looking to be a true career year. Instead, he was forced to sit out several weeks between the 2010 Open Championship and the Ryder Cup and Westwood certainly does not want to do that again this year.

Westwood is trying to build his schedule around the Major Championships in a number of ways including the way he schedules his tournaments and even moving his family from England to South Florida. He knows that he is running out of opportunities to win Major Championships and he is committed to trying to prepare himself better. Royal Lytham sets up well for his game and Townsend would not be surprised to see Westwood contend next week. Westwood is very English in the sense that he is very comfortable in his home country and does not like to travel abroad unless he has to. The fact that he is willing to move his family to Florida on a year-round shows how much he is willing to commit to try to win that first Major Championship.

Martin Kaymer has had a quiet 2012 season and certainly not the season that many expect after his successful 2010 season where he won five times including the PGA Championship. Kaymer’s problem may be that he has trouble saying no to people and as a result he has stretched himself too thin with worldwide tournament commitments. Over time, he has exhausted himself and his game has suffered as a result. Kaymer has said that he is working to reduce his schedule and if he can do that, Townsend can see Kaymer regaining a higher profile.

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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.