Chopra Leads Langham at Henrico

By Sports NetworkMay 22, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Henrico County OpenRICHMOND, Va. -- Daniel Chopra posted a 7-under 65 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead of the Henrico County Open. He finished three rounds at 23-under-par 193 and leads Franklin Langham by two at The Dominion Club.
 
Bryant MacKellar, a Monday qualifier, fired an 8-under 64 in the third round and is alone in third place at 19-under-par 197.
 
Chopra and Langham, both of whom shared the 36-hole lead with Scott Sterling, played in Saturday's final group and were tied for first after each went 2 under on their front nine.
 
Chopra made the first move to the top spot at the 12th. He reached the green in two from 280 yards out and two-putted from 60 feet for birdie and sole possession of the lead.
 
Langham answered at 14 with a 12-foot birdie putt but the tie was short-lived as Chopra ran home a 10-footer of his own to reclaim a one-shot lead. Both players went for the short par-4 15th off the tee and both landed left of the green. Langham pitched 15 feet short of the hole while Chopra chipped 8 feet right of the flag. Langham missed his birdie putt but Chopra converted his to go up by two.
 
The duo tallied matching birdies at No. 16, both from inside 10 feet, and each had a reasonable look at birdie at the par-3, 243-yard 17th. Neither made their 25-foot chance but both looked to take advantage of the par-5 closing hole.
 
Chopra missed the fairway left and Langham landed in the first cut on the same side. Langham elected to lay up short of the green while Chopra played a difficult iron shot through trees into the right, greenside bunker. Langham pitched to 5 feet and Chopra blasted to nearly the exact same spot.
 
Both players sank their birdie putts to keep Chopra's two-shot lead.
 
'I feel like if the shot is there to be hit, I go for it,' said Chopra, referring to his tough shot at 18. 'The riskier shot I was thinking about was a 6-iron and hook it over the water. Something in my head told me to play a little safer than that.'
 
Chopra is a member of the PGA Tour but since this week's event, the Colonial, is an invitational, he decided to tee it up for only the second time this season on the Nationwide Tour.
 
His other start was at the First Tee Arkansas Classic and he won the event. Now, instead of coming in the top-125 on the PGA Tour money list to keep his PGA Tour card next year, he has options.
 
If Chopra makes it to the winner's circle on Sunday, he will be one victory away from an automatic 'battlefield exemption' to the PGA Tour, which takes care of the rest of 2004 and 2005. If he doesn't win this week and continues to play well in limited starts on the Nationwide Tour, a top-20 on that money list will get him to the PGA Tour next year.
 
'I have thought about it but nothing you really consider seriously,' Chopra admitted. 'It's something I have an opportunity to do. I'm in position to get the second win. That's what you play for, to win tournaments.'
 
Langham will start the final round two back despite a 5-under 67 on Saturday.
 
'I blew up today,' kidded Langham. 'I'm never going to shoot 67 and say I'm unhappy. I feel good about my round. I played real solid. I didn't quite make the putts I've been making the first few days, but I made enough.'
 
Johnson Wagner held a piece of the lead on Saturday but back-to-back bogeys on the second nine cost him. He still shot a 7-under 65 and is tied for fourth place with Nathan Green and Ryuji Imada. That duo carded rounds of 67 and the trio is knotted at 18-under-par 198.
 
Sterling managed a 1-under 71 and shares seventh place with Jimmy Walker (66) at minus-17. If Walker can hoist the trophy on Sunday, he will earn the automatic pass to the PGA Tour thanks to a pair of wins earlier this season.
 
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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.