Els Extends Lead in Shanghai

By Sports NetworkApril 30, 2005, 4:00 pm
European TourSHANGHAI, China -- World No. 3 Ernie Els birdied the final hole Saturday to close out a round of 4-under 68 and take a five-shot lead at the BMW Asian Open. Els completed 54 holes at 19-under-par 197.
 
Simon Wakefield matched the low round of the day with his 6-under 66. That moved him into second place at 14-under-par 202. Two-time European Ryder Cupper Thomas Bjorn moved into third place with a 4-under 68. He stands at 12-under-par 204.
 
Jean-Francois Lucquin stands alone in fourth place at 11-under-par 205 after a round of 69. Eddie Lee, who played in the final pairing with Els, is one stroke further back at minus-10 after struggling to a 1-over 73.
 
Els opened his round with a birdie on the par-4 first for the third straight day. The South African tripped to a bogey at the fourth, his first bogey since his seventh hole of the opening round.
 
The 35-year-old recovered with a birdie at the seventh. Els made it two in row as he birdied the eighth at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club to move seven strokes clear of Bjorn.
 
Els, the owner of 20 European Tour wins, bogeyed the ninth after his drive found water, but came right back with a birdie at 10 to get back to minus-17. He faltered to another bogey at the 12th and his lead dropped to four strokes.
 
The two-time U.S. Open champion rebounded with a birdie on the 13th, his third in three days on that hole. Els converted a birdie putt on No. 14 to get to 18 under, five shots clear of Wakefield.
 
Els parred his next three holes before a birdie on the par-5 18th kept him five clear of Wakefield, who birdied the same hole.
 
'I have to be satisfied, but today was quite a difficult day here and there,' said Els, who won the Dubai Desert Classic and Qatar Masters in back-to-back weeks earlier this year. 'Friday I was right on, but today was a little off, but all in all I have to be pleased to be 19 under after three rounds.
 
'It's nice to have a lead, but you have to watch out. The boys are going to be coming hard and there were a couple of good scores today. I have to play sensibly and aggressive when I can.'
 
Wakefield climbed into contention with a stellar back nine. The Englishman played the opening nine at minus-1 with two birdies and a bogey.
 
Around the turn, Wakefield converted a birdie putt on the 10th to get to minus-10. After a pair of pars, the 31-year-old ran off three consecutive birdies from the par-five 13th to jump to 13 under.
 
Wakefield's 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th briefly got him within four of Els, but the South African also birdied the last for a five-shot cushion.
 
'I am very pleased even though it was a day of two halves really,' Wakefield said. 'I got off to a pretty nervy start, but I tried to keep a smile on my face all the way around because there were a few shots that I did not hit particularly well, but got good results. It is always nice to be in the last group on the final day. I hope I am not too intimidated by Els, but I am just going to enjoy it and see what happens.'
 
Luke Donald, Soren Hansen and Jeev Milkha Singh share sixth place at 9-under-par 207. Irishman Peter Lawrie and Frenchman Jean Van de Velde are one stroke further back at minus-8.
 
Miguel Angel Jimenez, the defending champion, is well off the pace at 4-under-par 212 after a third-round 69.
 
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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.