Canizares Cruises to Russian Open Title

By Sports NetworkAugust 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
European Tour MOSCOW, Russia -- It's unlikely anyone will notice, but no one has ever played better at the Russian Open.
With the world's best golfers competing nine time zones away at the PGA Championship, Spain's Alejandro Canizares earned his first career win and set multiple records Sunday at this obscure European Tour stop.
The son of four-time Ryder Cup player Jose Maria Canizares, Alejandro closed with a 6-under 66 and ended at 22-under-par 266 for a four-shot victory over David Drysdale of Scotland.
Finishing all four rounds with a 67 or better, Canizares became the quickest affiliate member to win on the European Tour, claiming title No. 1 in just his third start and surpassing better-known previous record holders Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell.
Canizares also established a new tournament scoring record, beating by three shots the previous mark of 269 held by four players. He earned $166,165 and a two-year exemption on the European Tour.
'This is unbelievable,' Canizares exclaimed. 'This means everything. I was trying to get my card through exemptions and now I have done it by winning my third event, so this is way beyond my expectations.'
The Russian Open was a fully-fledged European Tour event for the first time this season. In its first nine years -- initially a Challenge Tour event, then a dual-ranking event -- the tournament had a history of producing indistinguishable champions.
Canizares, who will turn 23 next month, is the newest of the bunch.
'Now I can focus on winning more,' said Canizares, who missed the cut at this year's British Open in his European Tour debut.
Since missing the cut at Royal Liverpool, Canizares has finished better in each tournament he's played. He placed 71st at the Players Championship of Europe, then tied for seventh last week at the KLM Open.
'This is probably the best that I have played so far in my career,' he said Sunday. 'One of my best weeks ever.'
The overnight leader Saturday, Canizares fended off all challengers Sunday with a round that included seven birdies and one bogey. He opened with consecutive birdies, then closed in style with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes.
Seven of the next eight finishers all broke par, but Canizares was just that much better.
Drysdale closed with a 3-under 69 to end four shots back at 18-under 270 for his best finish since winning the final Challenge Tour event at the end of the 2004 season.
The 31-year-old Scotsman, who claimed his second Challenge Tour victory earlier this season, was complimentary of Sunday's winner.
'He played brilliantly,' Drysdale said of Canizares. 'I started one behind him and leveled with him at one stage, but he never flinched. Some of his iron play was awesome.'
Sweden's Mikael Lundberg, also a first-time winner at this event last year, shot a 6-under 66 and tied for third place with Ireland's Gary Murphy (68) at 17-under 271.
Swede Leif Westerberg was fifth at 16-under, Brazilian Alexandre Rocha was sixth at 15-under, and Spaniard Carlos Rodiles was seventh at 14-under.
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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.