Els Two Back of Karlsson

By Sports NetworkSeptember 5, 2003, 4:00 pm
European TourCRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland -- Defending champion Robert Karlsson carded a 4-under 67 on Friday to take the lead midway through the European Masters. He stands at 10-under-par 132 and owns a one-stroke lead over 2000 European Masters champion Eduardo Romero.
 
Ernie Els, who shared the first-round lead with Karlsson, posted a 2-under 69 in the second round and is tied for third place with Michael Campbell (67) and Trevor Immelman (66). The trio is knotted at 8-under-par 134 at the Alpine Course at Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre.
 
Karlsson trailed Els, Campbell and Immelman by two strokes when he teed off Friday but quickly matched the threesome in first. Karlsson birdied his first two holes to get into a tie for the lead but the Swede ran into problems later in his front nine.
 
Karlsson double bogeyed the par-3 third hole and bogeyed the fifth to fall well off the pace but the 34-year-old knew the course well enough to know that he was far from out of the tournament.
 
'I made a double-bogey-5 at the third hole but didn't let it worry me,' said Karlsson. 'You know there are plenty of birdie chances out there so you have to be patient and wait for things to happen.'
 
Karlsson collected birdies at seven and nine to get within one shot of the lead but assumed the top spot on the second nine. He birdied three holes in a row from the par-4 12th to sit atop the leaderboard after six consecutive rounds of this tournament.
 
'I haven't really thought about it,' said Karlsson, who went wire-to-wire last year. 'I have just gone out and played and enjoyed the course. It's easy to drop shots here so you have to take things as they come.'
 
Karlsson could have ridden a hot streak into the European Masters but struggled in the final round last week at the BMW International Open. He squandered the final-round lead in Germany but said on Friday that he would gladly give up his streak atop the leaderboard on Saturday to visit the winner's circle on Sunday.
 
'Frankly, I would be happy to lose the lead tomorrow just as long as I reclaimed it on Sunday night,' said Karlsson.
 
Romero, the 49-year-old Argentinean, did not look like someone getting ready to join the Champions Tour next summer. He mixed five birdies and a bogey on Friday to post a 4-under 67.
 
'I played fantastic, better than yesterday,' said Romero, who opened with a 66 on Thursday. 'I am hitting the ball very solidly and have a lot of confidence in what I am doing. I am playing better each day and I like my position for the weekend.'
 
Els tallied five birdies and three bogeys but is in solid position for his fourth win on the European Tour in 2003.
 
'I am still in it. I feel quite happy with the way things have gone and I am looking forward to the weekend.,' said Els, the second-ranked golfer in the world.
 
Campbell and Immelman are both carrying extra motivation into this week. Both missed out on automatic spots on the International Presidents Cup team and captain Gary Player did not select either to round out his squad.
 
'It is part of my motivation,' acknowledged Campbell. 'I want to try to win every tournament between now and the Presidents Cup to try to prove a point, not only to Gary but myself as well. That's the most important thing.'
 
Immelman, who grew up less than three hours from Fancourt, the site of the Presidents Cup, echoed Campbell's sentiments on Friday.
 
'Absolutely, I do feel I have a point to prove but more to myself,' said Immelman. 'The Presidents Cup was probably one of my biggest goals of the year. That was a bitter pill to swallow.'
 
Paul Eales (69), Peter Hedblom (68), Patrik Sjoland (68) and Richard Sterne (64) share sixth place at 7-under-par 135 followed by Brian Davis (66), Nathan Fritz (66) and Raphael Jacquelin (67), who are tied for 10th place at minus-6.
 
Sergio Garcia is in the hunt at 5 under par, while Colin Montgomerie is a shot behind Garcia at minus-4.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at even-par 142 and among the notable players who failed to advance to the weekend were 1999 European Ryder Cup captain Mark James and 2003 Volvo PGA Championship winner Ignacio Garrido.
 
Related Links:
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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.