Big Easy Takes Sony Open in a Playoff

By Sports NetworkJanuary 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Sony OpenHONOLULU -- Ernie Els drained a 25-foot putt on the third hole of a playoff on Sunday to outlast Harrison Frazar and win the Sony Open in Hawaii for the second consecutive season.
'I felt good going into today,' said Els, who posted a final-round 65. 'All week, I was quite patient. So I felt it was there.'
Els, who defeated Aaron Baddeley in a playoff to capture this event last season, finished regulation tied with Frazar at 18-under-par 262 after both players birdied the 72nd hole to deny each other the victory.
The duo returned to the par-five 18th to begin the sudden death playoff and Els dropped his tee shot in the fairway. Frazar left his drive in a fairway bunker giving Els the early advantage, but he seemingly gave it away.
Els sent his second shot into the grandstand behind the green while Frazar played his second from the sand 40 yards short of the putting surface. Frazar then dropped his third inside 16 feet before Els took relief in thick rough.
Els lifted his third shot over a greenside bunker short of the green before playing his fourth within six inches of the hole. Frazar then two-putted for par followed by Els' tap-in to extend the extra session.
The pair went over to the 10th tee and Frazar found trouble again with an errant tee shot. After a solid drive, Els knocked his approach to eight feet but, Frazar managed to scramble to the green and leave himself 10 feet for par.
After Frazar converted, Els' birdie try for the win missed to the right of the cup. The Big Easy tapped in and the duo was off to the par-three 11th.
Both players reached the green off the tee, but left themselves with hefty birdie putts. Frazar missed his long birdie try before Els rolled in the decisive putt for his first victory of the new year.
'I almost had a similar line this afternoon,' Els said of his winning putt. 'So I knew where the line was going, it was all the difference.'
Els, who pocketed $864,000 for the win, was one shot back of Frazar to start the day at Waialae Country Club, but after Frazar struggled with back-to- back bogeys on the front side, Els took the lead for the first time with a birdie at the eighth.
Els two-putted for a birdie at the ninth, but Frazar battled back with four consecutive birdies from the ninth that were capped off by a chip-in birdie at the 12th.
The South African played his second shot from a bunker within a foot of the hole for a tap-in birdie at the 12th to reach 16-under and regained the outright lead with a chip-in birdie at the very next hole.
At the par-four 14th, Els almost holed out from the fairway as the gallery gasped while his approach rolled inches by the cup. Els then converted the comeback birdie to pull two shots clear of Frazar.
Els stumbled with a bogey at the 15th, however, and Frazar matched him at minus-17 with a birdie of his own at the par-three 17th.
Els then birdied the 18th, but Frazar, who reached the green in two at the par- five, two-putted for a birdie of his own to extend the tournament in an eventual losing effort.
'Obviously, I'm disappointed and this is going to hurt for a while, but I feel like I take with me the fact that I went toe-to-toe with Ernie,' said Frazar, who posted a 66 in the final round. 'So even though it hurts, there's a lot of positives to take from it.'
Davis Love III finished alone in third place at 15-under-par 265 after a round of 67. He was followed by Frank Lickliter at 14-under-par 266.
Briny Baird and Jerry Kelly shared fifth place at 13-under-par 267 while John Riegger finished alone in seventh at 12-under-par 268.
Stephen Ames joined Craig Barlow in a tie for eighth at 11-under-par 269.
Vijay Singh was one shot further back at 10-under-par 270 along with Omar Uresti, John Huston, Paul Azinger and Retief Goosen.
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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.