Diaz on Top at Jamie Farr

By Sports NetworkAugust 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
SYLVANIA, Ohio -- Laura Diaz posted a 6-under-par 65 on Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic. Diaz is one stroke ahead of defending champion Rachel Teske.
 
Dottie Pepper and Mi Hyun Kim each carded rounds of 4-under-par 67. They share third place with Carri Wood and Heather Bowie.
 
Diaz had a rough start at Highland Meadows Golf Club. She opened on the 10th hole and promptly three-putted for bogey. After settling down to par the next three holes, Diaz got back to even-par when she dropped in a four-foot birdie putt on the 14th.
 
She closed out her opening nine in fine fashion. The 28-year-old drained a 60- foot birdie putt at the 16th and followed that with a 12-foot birdie at the next.
 
At the par-5 18th, her ninth, Diaz dropped a sand-wedge within nine feet and sank that birdie try to close with three consecutive birdies.
 
Diaz turned the triple again on the front side. She converted a seven-footer for birdie at the third and birdied the next two holes to climb to 6 under.
 
She nearly holed her third shot to the par-5 seventh, but the ball stopped one foot from the cup for a kick-in birdie. After missing the fairway at her last, No. 9, she was unable to get up-and-down to save par to end with a one-stroke advantage.
 
'It feels good to shoot under par again,' said Diaz. 'I've had a little bit of a struggling year, so it's nice to post a low number. I putted really well today, and I'd have to say that was the key. I made two huge putts, one that was probably 60 feet and another one that was 35 to 40 feet.'
 
Diaz has been battling an old ankle injury for most of the season and it has affected her game.
 
'My doctor said I had a tear in the peroneal tendon, which is the tendon that runs on the outside of your ankle bone,' Diaz said. 'He believes it was caused from a sprain in my junior year in college. I've been going to a massage therapist. He's used electronic acupuncture and deep-tissue massage to help the heeling process.'
 
Teske, who has two wins to her credit this season, also began on the back nine Thursday. She started quickly with a birdie at her opening hole. At the par-3 14th, Teske dropped a 4-iron within 10 feet to setup her second birdie. At the par-5 17th, she again sank a 10-footer for her third birdie of the round.
 
Around the turn, Teske dropped a 5-iron within five feet at the first to setup birdie. She followed that up with another birdie at the next to move to minus-5.
 
Teske, however, could not maintain that momentum. She missed the fairway at No. 4 and was unable to save par. She did get that stroke back at the seventh when she sank a five-footer for birdie.
 
'I hit the ball really solid and made birdie on the first hole,' said Teske. 'It started from there and I got a little bit of momentum. My putting felt really good, and I felt confident out there.'
 
Meg Mallon and Hee-Won Han both posted rounds of 3-under-par 68. That duo shares seventh place with Paula Marti, Jill McGill, Joanne Morley, Fiona Pike, Jenny Rosales, Nancy Scranton, Marisa Baena, Nicole Jeray and Kelli Kuehne.
 
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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.