Bunker Shots Open Up

By Randall MellJuly 13, 2010, 8:09 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from the Old Course to American tests at architectural works designed by Palmer and Nicklaus.


The Open Championship verticle logoBritish Open

What is it with Phil Mickelson and the British Open?

Nobody has a good answer for his struggles there, including Mickelson himself, but the heavy winds loom as a factor.

Still, the talent is such that he’s right behind Tiger Woods in British bookmaking shops listing favorites this week. Tiger Woods is still favored with Ladbrokes having him at 6-to-1. Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are next, each at 16-to-1. Mickelson has just one top 10 in 16 British Open starts, but there’s some hope at St. Andrews, where Mickelson tied for 11th in 2000.

Bunker shot: Tiger Woods is considering ditching his putter this week? In some ways, that’s more shocking than news of a marital split. Woods has been loyal to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter since 1999, winning 13 of his 14 majors with it. He’s reported to be going with a Nike Method 001 putter to help him on St. Andrews slower greens. Woods hasn’t been putting well of late, but there’s no discernible difference in his stroke. It’s easy to imagine his once impenetrable focus hasn’t been there. When he gets that back, Woods will be back.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tiger Woods. Contender – Justin Rose. Darkhorse – Francesco Molinari.

  • Course: Old Course, St. Andrews. St. Andrews, Scotland. Par 72, 7,259 yards.
  • Purse: $8.6 million (winner’s share, $1,221,005).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN, 4 a.m.-3 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Saturday, ESPN, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Sunday, ESPN, 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m., replay 9 p.m.-midnight.
  • Last year: Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a playoff.




PGA Tour (75x100)

Reno Tahoe Open

With the world’s attention on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a class of players trying to re-establish themselves at Montreaux Golf & Country Club.

Stuart Appleby, Chad Campbell and Chris DiMarco are among veterans looking to add to their PGA Tour victory totals after dry spells. The trio has combined to win 15 PGA Tour events, none since ’07.

Bunker shot: Robert Garrigus gets another chance to rebound from that disappointing finish at the St. Jude Classic five weeks ago, when he blew a three-shot lead at the final hole. Garrigus will be making his fourth start since then. How’s he doing? Here’s the rundown: T68 at the Travelers, 67th at AT&T National and T65 at the John Deere Classic. The cruel facts of golf life are that he’ll be remembered for that collapse until he can erase it with something better.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ryan Palmer. Contender – John Rollins. Darkhorse – Jeff Quinney.

  • Course: Montreaux Golf & Country Club, Reno, Nev. Par 70, 6,759 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1997).
  • Purse: $3.5 million (winner’s share, $630,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 4-7 p.m., replays 1-4 a.m. for first three rounds, 1:30-4:30 a.m. for final round.
  • Last year: John Rollins won his third PGA Tour title by three shots.


Nationwide Tour

Chiquita Classic

With Paul Goydos shooting 59 at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour last week, another low number didn’t get much attention. Peter Tomasulo’s 10-under 61 may not have broken golf’s magic barrier, but he posted his low score in the final round of the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic to come from eight shots back and win.

Bunker shot: Just $441 separate No. 1 Chris Kirk and No. 2 Kevin Chappell at the top of the Nationwide Tour money list. They’re both in this week’s event, a new tournament on the Nationwide Tour schedule. Does it really matter who finishes first with the top 25 all earning PGA Tour cards at year’s end? Yes. The leading money winner gets an exemption into The Players Championship next year and the lucrative payday offered there.  

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jamie Lovemark. Contender – Kevin Chappell. Darkhorse – Darron Stiles.

  • Course: TPC River’s Bend, Maineville, Ohio. Par 72, 7,180 yards (Designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 2001).
  • Purse: $550,000 (winner’s share, $99,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 2-4 p.m., replays 8-9:30 a.m. the following mornings.
  • Last year: No tournament.
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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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.