Fichardt Seeks Redemption at Smurfit

By Sports NetworkJuly 4, 2002, 4:00 pm
KILDARE, Ireland -- South Africa's Darren Fichardt and Australia's Jarrod Moseley each posted rounds of 5-under-par 67 Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the European Open at the K Club.
The score represented a new course record at the renovated K Club, as the course was lengthened over the winter in preparation for the 2006 Ryder Cup Matches.
Michael Campbell of New Zealand shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for third place with Argentina's Jorge Berendt and Sweden's Joakim Haeggman.
Two of golf's biggest names are part of a group tied for sixth place. Greg Norman, who won this tournament in 1986 before capturing the British Open later that year, opened with a 69 Thursday.
'If you drive the ball around here you are going to put yourself in a position to shoot a decent score and that is what I did today,' said Norman.
Colin Montgomerie, whose chances of playing this week looked doubtful because of a lingering back injury, also carded an opening-round 69 as the Scotsman looks for one of the titles that eluded him in his European Tour career.
'That is a good start,' said Montgomerie. 'This is one of the toughest courses we play all year on tour. It is a very demanding test of golf.'
Sebastien Delagrange, Barry Lane, John Dwyer, Chris Gane and European Ryder Cupper Niclas Fasth fill out the group two shots behind.
Fichardt got off to a rough start Thursday when he bogeyed the second hole but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies at three and four to get to 1-under. He nearly holed his tee shot at the par-3 eighth when his 7-iron hit the pin and bounded three feet from the hole, where he made birdie to make the turn at 2-under 33.
The South African birdied all three par-5s on the back nine at The K Club to get into the clubhouse at 5-under.
Fichardt won the Sao Paulo Brazil Open in 2001 and had a chance last week to add to his trophy case at the Irish Open. He was involved in a four-man playoff and missed a four-footer for the win on the first playoff hole. Soren Hansen captured the title on the fourth extra hole but Fichardt received words of encouragement from Mark McNulty, Thomas Bjorn and Retief Goosen.
'It hit me on Tuesday when I came to the course,' said Fichardt. 'But I got a lot of help from Mark, Thomas and spoke to Retief this morning and they said it happens to everyone. People do miss those putts and it could have been the first hole of the tournament or the playoff, it doesn't matter. The sooner I get up and back on the horse again the better.'
Moseley mixed two birdies and one bogey over his first nine, the back side at The K Club, but moved up the leaderboard on his second nine. He tallied four birdies over his last seven holes to match Fichardt at minus 5.
Moseley seemed to return to the form he displayed when he fired a final-round, course-record-matching 63 at the Volvo PGA Championship in late May.
'The season was very slow in starting but Wentworth kicked that off,' said Moseley, who won his first European Tour start at the 1999 Heineken Classic. 'I've really played well since then. I like a little break on the greens and these have more slopes and that suits me. I am enjoying getting better and if I can keep the progression going, then I will give myself chances to win.'
Darren Clarke, the 2001 European Open champion, struggled in the opening round of his title defense. He shot a 2-over-par 74 and is tied for 67th.
Full-field scores from the Smurfit European Open
Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.