Top 10 personalities in the men's game

By Randall MellMay 25, 2012, 8:30 pm

Jason Dufner’s game is on the rise.

So is his persona. We’re learning there is more than meets the eye as we get to know the subtle, wry dimensions of his personality.

NBC analyst Johnny Miller said in a media conference call this week that Dufner was among his favorites at the U.S. Open because he had the game and the personality to win at The Olympic Club. Miller said Dufner is one of those competitors who barely seem to have a pulse, and he likes those guys at a U.S. Open.

Here is one man’s completely subjective listing of the top 10 personalities in men’s professional golf under age 50, guys with a ton of pulse, guys who you eagerly await in the media room after good rounds because you know they’re going to fill up your notebook. They may be on this list because they’re funny, quirky or just gifted with colorful insight into the game and human nature, or maybe all of the above:

1. Bubba the White

Bubba Watson’s personality is much too large to be restrained to a single spot atop this listing of top-10 personalities. Bubba the White, like Gandalf the White in the Lord of the Rings, radiates with a wizardly charm. Watson possesses a quirky but intriguing perspective on life as only Bubba can see it. He’ll make you chuckle at his folksy views. He’ll also awe you with the magic in that pink driver of his.

2. Bubba the Grey

Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s wizard, Bubba has a darker alter ego who fits the author’s description, “. . . quick at times to sharp speech and the rebuking of folly.” Yeah, that’s pretty much Bubba, too, though folly is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

3. Paul Goydos

If this guy won more, he would be a superstar. His wit and dry humor were unveiled for all to see in his playoff loss at The Players Championship four years ago. He’s Bob Newhart in golf cleats. He is self-deprecating and gifted in expressing it with some good one-liners.

4. Rocco Mediate

He is not your ordinary PGA Tour pro, to be sure. For starters, he has a tattoo on his right arm (RNM, the first initials of his three sons). He is a wisecracker who can be brutally honest – just ask Tiger Woods – but in the most disarming fashion, usually. Nobody rambles more delightfully than Rocco. You rarely want him to stop talking when he’s in the media room.

5. Phil Mickelson

Yeah, he’s a lightning rod, but Lefty brings as much game into the media room as he does on the golf course. His messages can be calculating, but he wins us over delivering them so cleverly. There’s a lot of thought that goes into Lefty’s opinions, and they carry considerable weight in the game. When Mickelson makes a stand, he makes it count. And while he may lumber across a golf course, he is as quick as anyone on his feet in the media room, with witty jabs and needles aimed at writers.

6. Boo Weekley

The guy galloped down the first fairway at Valhalla in the shadow of Churchill Downs straddling his driver as if he were riding Secretariat. You don’t see that every day at a Ryder Cup. He was voted Class Clown his senior year at Milton High in the Florida panhandle. He once felt like a clown getting knocked out by an orangutan in a boxing match at a carnival. Weekley tells his stories with a folksy charm that endears him to his audiences.

7. Henrik Stenson

The Swede once stripped to his underwear to hit a shot out of the muck at Doral. He looked completely uninhibited doing so. He was as funny talking about it as he was doing it. Even amid slumps, some nasty ones that might have ended the careers of lesser men, Stenson is a cheerful subject, mostly.

8. Lee Westwood

His sharp, penetrating English wit comes through in most of his media sessions. Westwood is smart, and he knows how to make an important point with levity punctuating his message. That’s a nice trick. His opinions also carry substantial weight because of the respect he has won among his peers.

9. Graeme McDowell

The good-humored Irish outlook passes comfortably through McDowell’s persona. He is candid, with strong opinion, but he has the knack of making you like him even if you disagree with him.

10. Rory McIlroy

The youngest member of this list, McIlroy, 23, can sound wise beyond his years in an interview room, while also being boyishly playful. He is surprisingly unguarded for a No. 1 player in the world, open and eager to share his opinions.

Honorable mention: Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Darren Clarke, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Geoff Ogilvy, Jerry Kelly.

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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.