Cook Earns US Open Spot

By Sports NetworkMay 28, 2002, 4:00 pm
John Cook, who tied for second behind Jim Furyk at the Memorial on Sunday, climbed more than enough spots in the World Golf Ranking to earn an exemption into the field for next month's U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park in New York.
Cook began last week ranked 63rd in the world but jumped 21 spots to No. 42 with his runner-up showing at Muirfield Village.
Monday was the deadline set by the United States Golf Association for players to make the top-50 in the world ranking. Players outside the top-50 who are not already exempt for the U.S. Open will have to earn a spot through next week's 36-hole qualifier.
Cook, 44, grabbed a spot in the British Open as well, as Monday was also the cutoff set by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the governing body of golf's oldest championship.
Cook, who hasn't played in the British Open since missing the cut in 1997, will get to tee it up at Muirfield in Scotland, the site of his second-place finish to Nick Faldo in 1992.
Faldo, on the other hand, will need to play the U.S. Open qualifier if he wants a chance to compete in his 60th consecutive major championship. The 44- year-old Englishman needed a top-two finish at the Volvo PGA Championship this past weekend, but wound up two shots out of second place in the European Tour's flagship event at Wentworth Club.
Faldo, who was 78th in the ranking, moved up to No. 62 after finishing tied for fourth.
Anders Hansen of Denmark made his first career victory a big one with a win at the Volvo PGA, but finished one spot out of the top-50 after vaulting from 141st in the world to 51st.
Charles Howell III dropped from 50th to 53rd and will have to go the qualifying route to make the field at Bethpage. Although the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year recorded three top-10s in his first five starts of 2002, he hasn't finished in the top-15 since February and has missed the cut twice in his last three events.
Tiger Woods, who was seeking his fourth straight win at the Memorial but tied for 22nd in defense of his title, remained firmly entrenched as the top-ranked player in the world, followed by Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
The recently slumping Sergio Garcia -- two missed cuts and a 73rd-place finish at the Memorial in his last three events -- stayed in the fifth position.
David Duval's tie for fourth at the Memorial marked his first top-10 of the season. The 2001 British Open champion moved up one spot to No. 6 in an exchange of positions with last year's PGA Championship winner David Toms.
Vijay Singh held on to the No. 8 spot.
Furyk climbed 14 spots to No. 9 courtesy of his two-shot win on Sunday. Chris DiMarco, who was idle this week, moved up from 11th to 10th in the world.
Colonial winner Nick Price and Ireland's Padraig Harrington both fell two spots, Price from ninth to 11th and Harrington from 10th to 12th. Davis Love III, Argentina's Angel Cabrera, Rocco Mediate and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke each slipped one slot to Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16, respectively.
Although hampered for much of this season with a bad back, Colin Montgomerie has managed to finish in the top-three in his last three starts on the European Tour. The Scot's world ranking improved four places with his move from 21st to No. 17.
Kenny Perry, Canadian lefthander Mike Weir and two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer of Germany rounded out the top-20.
Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal, another winner of two green jackets at Augusta National, dropped out of the top-20 this week, as did U.S. Ryder Cup captain's pick Scott Verplank. Olazabal fell from 18th to 21st while Verplank slipped from 20th to 23rd.
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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.