At-home Hull forbidding family, friends from Woburn

By Randall MellJuly 27, 2016, 7:42 pm

WOBURN, England – Charley Hull dearly loves the childhood friends she still keeps so close, and that’s why she is practically forbidding them from coming to watch her play the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week.

That goes for her two sisters, too.

She doesn’t want them all roaming Woburn Golf Club this week. It doesn’t matter that Woburn, where Hull has been a member since she was 11, is only 40 minutes south of Kettering, where they all grew up.

“I don’t know why,” Hull says of her strong feelings.

That’s classic Hull, quixotic and honest to an endearing fault.

Hull, 20, the best female player in England today, the guileless starlet with the blonde locks and unfiltered opinions, is feeling a bit of pressure to perform as the showcase player with the Women’s British Open in her backyard.

Mostly, she says, she feels pressure to keep the life she has in this part of England separate from the life she lives as an LPGA pro.

“I just feel like my friends are my friends outside golf,” Hull said Wednesday, on the eve of the championship’s start. “I just don’t want them asking, 'So why did you hit that there? Or what does that mean, or what’s this?’

“I’ve had family come, and sometimes I try and distance myself. My sisters, especially, they don’t know much about golf. If I’ve had a bad round, they are like, 'Well, I could easily have holed that,’ or 'I could have done this.’ I’m like, 'Just be quiet.’

“I haven’t really got them coming this week. They might pop around in the evening, that’s it.”

If you weren’t there to hear Hull say that, if you don’t know Hull’s unaffected, unselfconscious persona, you might think that sounded mean. For Charley, it’s not. It’s seeing what’s important, the relationships, and how golf’s just not as important as this separate life she cherishes in this part of the world, the home she wants to shelter and protect from the insanity that golf can become on a world stage.

Hull confesses she’s feeling emotions this week she hasn’t felt in Solheim Cups or other major championships. On her 18th birthday, she signed a deal to represent Woburn as its touring pro, joining Ian Poulter in that function. So Hull wasn’t going to hide the challenges this week presents when media asked in her news conference.

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“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me this week, which is a bit annoying,” Hull said. “At the end of the day, it’s my home course, and it’s great to have it here. It will be nice to see all of the members come out and to have their support, because there are a great bunch of people here at Woburn. I always feel so welcome.”

At Woburn, Hull has her own parking space with her name on it, right behind Poulter’s. She owns a BMW X3, but she doesn’t have a driver’s license. She doesn’t drive yet. Her father uses the parking space to get her to the club, or to take the family’s new dog to the course to romp around the fairways.

Hull, seeking to make her first LPGA title a major breakthrough, is going to allow one friend to come watch her this week. That would be James Northern. He’s in construction in Kettering. He has played golf with Hull since she was 7 years old at Kettering Golf Club.

Northern became part of Hull’s story when she took the international stage so grandly at the 2013 Solheim Cup in Colorado, where at just 17 she famously whipped Paula Creamer and then asked Creamer for an autograph after.

Hull wasn’t asking for the autograph for herself. She wanted it for Northern, a Creamer fan, who asked if it might be possible.

Northern was at Woburn on Wednesday, on the range with Hull, watching her hit shots.

“That Solheim Cup was televised late over here, and I was half asleep when I saw Charley getting Paula to autograph a ball,” Northern said. “I replayed it, and I kind of laughed. It shocked me she actually did it. It was such a nice thing to do.”

That’s the Charley her friends know, the friends she escapes to to find the shelter of normal life.

“Charley’s won on [the Ladies European Tour],” said Dave, her father. “She’s made a few quid, but it hasn’t gotten in the way of who she is, whatsoever. She is a real person, a normal kid. She has these great friends here at home that she loves to be around, normal kids. They work in a bar or a bank, and when Charley has time off, she wants to be with them.”

When the madness of the Women’s British Open is over, Charley is going to take three of her girlfriends from Kettering to Ibiza, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. Hull is paying for the trip. She’s taken her friends there before.

“I’m more proud of Charley being a good kid with good manners than a good golfer,” Dave said.

Charley still lives with her parents, in the home she grew up, in a little village just outside Kettering. Dave bought the home when Charley was 3. He is a retired plasterer who guided his daughter in the game more than he steered her, after she found the game on her own. Dave didn’t know a lot about golf, but as he realized his daughter had special gifts, he got advice from people like Tony Jacklin, the two-time major championship winner from England.

Jacklin told Dave not to get Charley a regular caddie too early, to make her learn for herself all the things a good caddie would do for her. While Charley has swing coaches, Dave also encouraged her to learn her own swing, so she could fix herself.

“Some things are just common sense,” Dave said.

Charley is allowing her friend James to come watch her this week because he is her best golfing buddy from home. They still play together at Kettering Golf Club.

“James keeps me calm and relaxed and stuff,” Hull said.

James knows how quixotic Charley can sound, but he appreciates how that hasn’t really changed through all their years together.

“Charley is a little crazy, in a good way,” James said. “She is fun, she likes to laugh, and she doesn’t take things too seriously, which is a really good thing . . . Charley is Charley.”

All Charley’s friends know exactly what that means.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."