Cheetham Leads Els in South Africa

By Sports NetworkDecember 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
European TourMALELANE, South Africa -- England's Neil Cheetham posted a bogey-free, 3-under 69 on Saturday to move into the lead after three rounds of the dunhill championship. He stands at 8-under-par 208 and owns a one-shot lead over David Frost at Leopard Creek Country Club.
Frost, a two-time winner on the European Tour and 10-time winner on the PGA Tour, also shot a 69 on Saturday to reach 7 under par for the championship.
Charl Schwartzel carded a 2-under 70 and is alone in third place at minus-6. Oliver Whiteley managed an even-par 72, but has sole possession of fourth place at 5-under-par 211.
Ernie Els, a three-time champion and world No. 3, shot a 2-under 70 and is back in the hunt after a second-round 75. Els, who owns a house on Leopard Creek, is tied for fifth place with Michael Kirk (69), Euan Little (72) and Warren Abery (73), who held the lead throughout the third round. The group is knotted at minus-4.
Cheetham moved up the leaderboard thanks to steady play on the front nine and his closest competitors making bogeys. Cheetham, who earned his 2005 European Tour card at Q School last month, tallied only one birdie on the first side, at the sixth, then made eight pars to move into the lead at 6 under par.
On the second nine, Cheetham held it together with six consecutive pars from the 10th. He moved one ahead of Frost with an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-5 15th, a hole Cheetham has birdied in all three rounds.
Frost got to 7 under, but Cheetham once again climbed past the 45-year-old international star. Cheetham's second shot at the par-5 closing hole landed 5 feet from the hole. He only managed a two-putt birdie, but he will be in the lead as he tries for European Tour victory No. 1.
Frost, a two-time Presidents Cup player from South Africa, collected a birdie at the second, but dropped a shot at the 11th. He rebounded with a birdie at the 12th, then matched Cheetham in the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 13th.
Frost, who won this title in 1994, parred four in a row from the 14th, but picked up one more birdie on the way into the clubhouse. He got up and down for birdie from a greenside bunker at the 18th that momentarily gave him a share of the lead.
Even though Cheetham birdied the last for the 54-hole lead, Frost is now in good position to visit the winner's circle for the first time since the 1999 South African Open.
Richard Finch posted an even-par 72 and is alone in ninth place at minus-3. Mark Davis (72), Damien McGrane (72), Alessandro Tadini (73) and Lindani Ndwandwe (73) are tied for 10th place at 2-under-par 214.
Second-round leader Peter Gustafsson struggled on Saturday. He birdied the second, but bogeyed three in a row from the third. Things did not get better on the back nine as he got that nine-hole stretch started with three bogeys and a double bogey.
Gustafsson shot a 7-over-par 79 and is part of group tied for 19th at even-par 216. Defending champion Marcel Siem carded a 1-under 71 and is also part of that logjam.
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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.