Stanley has plenty of support after tough loss

By Rex HoggardFebruary 1, 2012, 10:33 pm

It is the most delicate play in golf, if not all of sport. Kudos and congratulations come easy after a victory, but filling the overwhelming silence that accompanies defeat is an art, more so then science.

In the vortex that follows a letdown the real trick is to find anything to say because the only wrong thing to say is nothing at all. So it is that Mike Taylor found himself poised to thumb a text message into his cell phone Sunday evening but no idea how to fill the field.

What do you say? asked Taylor, Kyle Stanleys swing coach and so much more.

His man had just triple-bogeyed the last hole at Torrey Pines to squander a three-stroke lead and his first PGA Tour title, and now Taylor had to be all at once upbeat and analytical, profound and compassionate in 160 characters or less.

I texted him that I was proud of him and that the big thing was to keep his head up and his chest out and take the positives from the week, said Sea Island (Ga.) Resorts Taylor.

There would be time for critical analysis of Stanleys play later, but on a raw Sunday, Taylor opted for solace and support. Dr. Morris Pickens, Stanleys sports psychologist, took a similar route, texting: I know it hurts, and I feel for you. Well talk more on Monday.

This much is certain, there is no perfect answer. Each player digests disappointment differently, and the only consensus seems to be to give the player time to recover, but never let him forget.

He played well the entire week, Taylor said. The main thing is, as far as your career goes, this is such a small thing. After a week or two, we can talk about actually what happened and what we need to work on.

Pickens plans to have dinner with Stanley on Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. to address Sundays happenings and not just on the now-infamous 72nd hole but during his entire week in San Diego. During one point on Sunday, Stanley led by seven strokes, and from a pure tactical point of view, its difficult to find fault in his game plan on the par 5 closing hole.

The drive, the layup and even the sand wedge approach shot were textbook by almost any measure. The deciding factor, in reality, was an adrenaline-induced additional 100 rpm in spin, an extra 2 mph in club head speed, one more yard of carry ' the razors edge.

Not that Pickens or Taylor have much interest in the mechanics of Stanleys miscue. At least not right now. The message now isnt what happened, its whats next?

If you got to choose how bad things would happen, then bad things would never happen, Pickens said. Choose how to respond.

Which brings Stanley to TPC Scottsdale and this weeks Waste Management Phoenix Open, a scheduled stop he never considered skipping which has delivered an avalanche of support from every corner of the clubhouse.

One of the few people who wouldnt struggle for something to say was among the first to reach out to Stanley. Robert Garrigus, who suffered a similar final-hole implosion at the 2010 St. Jude Classic, offered Stanley plenty of unsolicited advice via Twitter on Sunday.

If anyone knows how Kyle Stanley feels its me, and he will win more than one tourney before his time is up. He just needs to keep grinding. Sorry bud, tweeted Garrigus, who rebounded from his Memphis meltdown by winning the season-ending event at Disney in 2010.

Brandt Snedeker, who clipped Stanley on the second extra hole at Torrey Pines, could also offer advice from a similar perspective. At the 2009 BMW Championship, Snedeker, widely considered one of the circuits best putters, four-putted from 13 feet on the last hole. The triple-bogey 7 cost him a spot at the Tour Championship and starts at the 2010 Masters and British Open.

Snedekers manager with Crown Sports was waiting for his man when he walked off the 18th green at Cog Hill three years ago. I told him I was sorry, and he told me he didnt want to hear it, Jimmy Johnston laughed. Its the way he is, the way he handles things. Everybody is different in a situation like that.

Hallmark has no card to ease the pain of a four-putt or the shock of an ill-timed triple bogey. On Sunday, there were no magic pep talks to soothe a battered psyche, no clich that would somehow mitigate a meltdown.

There is no use in trying to forget what happened. The only tonic is time and maybe a little forgiveness and a dollop of forward thinking.

Its not rah rah, you will recover, Pickens figured on Wednesday. The message is, What will you learn from this?

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward the back-right hole location, about 25 feet away, closer than both Fleetwood and Johnson.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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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."