Hall of Fame inductees boast impressive resumes

By Randall MellMay 6, 2013, 3:45 pm

A Hall of Fame class notably light on major championships will be inducted Monday in St. Augustine, Fla.

Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie, Willie Park Jr., Ken Schofield and Ken Venturi will be honored at the St. Johns County Convention Center at the World Golf Village with the ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. Golf Channel’s telecast will air at 10 p.m.

The four former players being inducted combined to win just four major championships but also made marks beyond those stages.

NBC’s Dan Hicks will host the induction ceremony.

Couples, 53, won 15 PGA Tour titles and one major, the Masters in 1992. He qualified for induction garnering 51 percent of the vote in the Hall of Fame balloting. Though 65 percent is required for induction, a special provision grants membership to the leading vote-getter, provided nobody garners the minimum and the vote-getter pulls at least 50 percent of the vote. Couples will be presented Monday evening by CBS’ Jim Nantz.

Montgomerie, 49, one of three Scots being inducted, won 31 European Tour titles without a major among them. He was elected through the international ballot, also via special provision after garnering just 51 percent of the vote. He will be presented by European Tour chief executive George O’Grady.

Venturi, 81, won 14 PGA Tour titles and one major, the U.S. Open in 1964, but he also made his mark as CBS’ golf analyst for 35 years. He was elected through the lifetime achievement category. Venturi is recovering from surgery and will not be able to attend the ceremony. Nantz will present and represent Venturi.

Park Jr., a Scot who died in 1925, won the British Open twice.

Schofield, 67, yet another Scot, was the executive director during the rise of the European Tour from 1975-2004. He was elected through the lifetime achievement category. Former USGA executive director David Fay will present him.

Here are capsules of the five inductees:

Fred Couples

• His 15 PGA Tour titles include two Players Championships (1984, ’96). His Masters triumph was among a dozen top-five finishes in majors.

• After winning the ’92 Masters, Couples became the first American to become No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Nicknamed “Boom Boom,” Couples was a power player with one of the smoothest swings in the game. He ranks among the most popular players in his generation.

• He won PGA Tour Player of the Year awards in 1991 and ’92. He also won the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average those years.

• Has won eight Champions Tour events.

• Has captained the Americans to Presidents Cup victories in 2009 and ’11, played on five Ryder Cup teams and four Presidents Cup teams. He is also the 2013 Presidents Cup captain.

Colin Montgomerie

• With those 31 European titles, Montgomerie was a force on that tour, winning eight Order of Merit titles, including seven in a row (1993-99). No British player has won more European Tour titles.

• Montgomerie never won a major, but he came close, finishing second five times, including playoff losses to Ernie Els in the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont and to Steve Elkington in the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera.

• Montgomerie played in eight Ryder Cups, helping the Euros win five of them. No European has won more Ryder Cups. Montgomerie was 20-9-7 in the matches and was never beaten in singles (6-0-2). He captained the Euros to victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor.

Willie Park Jr.

• Park won the British Open in 1887 and ’89. He’s the son of World Golf Hall of Famer Willie Park Sr., who won four British Opens, including the inaugural championship in 1860.

• A pioneer in club and ball design, Park Jr. made his mark beyond that of a player. He was also an architect and writer.

Ken Schofield

• Became the European Tour’s executive director in 1975 and reigned until 2004, a time of unprecedented growth for the tour. When Schofield came aboard, the European Tour schedule featured just 17 events. There were 45 on the schedule when he retired. He also oversaw the creation of the European Challenge Tour and the European Senior Tour.

• Schofield steered the European Tour toward global expansion, opening doors that would lead the tour to Africa and Asia. Schofield took the tour off the continent for the first time in 1982 with the start of the Tunisian Open.

Ken Venturi

• In one of the most dramatic conclusions in the history of the U.S. Open, Venturi won in 1964 at Congressional. The question was more than whether Venturi could close out the victory; it was whether he could literally survive the challenge. He overcame 100-degree temperatures and severe dehydration to win.

• Venturi won 14 PGA Tour events as a pro and nearly won one as an amateur. He is famously the only amateur to hold a 54-hole lead at the Masters. He did so in ’56, but finished second to Jackie Burke Jr.

• After carpal tunnel syndrome hastened his retirement as a player, Venturi joined CBS as an analyst in 1968. He shaped how we came to understand the sport and its stars in that role for 35 years.

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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.