Clarke One Back of Leading Trio

By Sports NetworkSeptember 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Soren Hansen shot a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday to grab a share of the lead at the dunhill links championship (Fri., 8:30 AM ET on TGC). Hansen was joined by Gary Murphy and Simon Yates in a tie for first after the opening round.
Darren Clarke, David Howell, Peter Lawrie and Jamie Donaldson finished one shot back at 5-under-par 67.
This event features a rotation of the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns with all players competing on each course over the first three days. After Saturday, the top 60 professionals and ties compete for the championship on the Old Course.
Hansen played the back nine of the Old Course first and tallied two birdies over his first two holes. Hansen then added back-to-back birdies from the 14th to move to 4 under par.
The Dane found trouble with a bogey at the first but Hansen managed to recover with a birdie at the third.
At the par-3 eighth, Hansen landed his tee shot within three feet of the cup for a birdie. He followed that up with a birdie at the par-4 ninth after his approach stopped six feet from the hole.
'I started really well and finished well,' said Hansen. 'I am very happy with my score. I think that's the first time I've broken par on the Old Course and that was nice. It's a learning process and maybe I am getting there at last.'
Yates also played the Old Course and had six birdies in a bogey-free round.
'I think I might have been slightly lucky with the wind when I started off,' said Yates. 'I think we had a little bit of an advantage there.'
Murphy took on Carnoustie with seven birdies and a bogey for his share of first.
'It is a fabulous golf course,' said Murphy. 'It is tricky and you could shoot anything out there if the wind got up.'
Clarke was also at Carnoustie on Thursday and collected three birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at minus-2.
The Ulsterman picked up a birdie at the par-5 12th and another at the par-5 14th before dropping his tee shot inside three feet at the par-3 16th.
Clarke ran home the short birdie putt to finish one shot off the lead.
'I was very pleased but we got very fortunate with the weather here, the wind didn't blow that hard for us early on and to get Carnoustie out of the way on the rota in very good conditions is a big boost,' said Clarke.
Simon Dyson and Maarten Lafeber had the best rounds at Kingsbarns with matching 68s. They were joined by Nick Price, Simon Dyson, Phillip Price, Costantino Rocca, Henrik Bjornstad and Michael Campbell in a tie for eighth.
Defending champion Padraig Harrington managed four birdies and four bogeys at Carnoustie to finish in a group at even-par 72 that featured Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
'It was a good day for golf and I got off to a good start but it was not a great score at all,' said Harrington. 'Not on a golf course when it is like this. I am just not making it happen at the moment.'
Reigning PGA champion Shaun Micheel was one shot further back in a group at 1-over-par 73.
'There were a couple of pretty low scores out there but this being only my fourth round on a links style golf course, it was okay,' said Micheel.
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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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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.