Funk Johnson Share Buick Lead

By Sports NetworkAugust 27, 2004, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)CROMWELL, Conn. -- Fred Funk posted a 4-under 66 on Friday to share the 36-hole lead with Zach Johnson, who shot a 65 in Round 2. The duo is knotted at 8-under-par 132 and are one ahead of Hank Kuehne at the Buick Championship at TPC at River Highlands.
Overnight leader Corey Pavin struggled to a 2-over 72 and is tied with Jose Coceres, who carded a 66 on Friday. The pair share fourth at 6-under-par 134.
Funk, who made his first Ryder Cup team after the PGA Championship two weeks ago, birdied the second hole when he rolled in a 22-footer. He added his second birdie two holes later when his 5-iron stopped 10 feet from the hole.
Funk made his move up the leaderboard with solid play midway through his back nine. At the 14th, Funk hit a 9-iron to 4 feet and converted the birdie try. He made it two in a row at the short 15th when his drive landed right of the green, pin-high. He chipped to 6 feet, sank the putt and took the lead at minus-8.
The 48-year-old moved two clear of the field at 17 when his pitching-wedge approach spun 5 feet short of the hole. Funk made that putt, but bogeyed 18 when he landed in the rough.
But Funk is happy to be playing in better form after missing the cut at the PGA and tying for 61st last week at the WGC-NEC Invitational.
'If I hit a couple of shots poorly, I feel like I'm hitting so many good ones that I can get this going,' said Funk. 'I was excited about going to the Ryder Cup, but I wasn't excited about how I was playing. I've got that 'where it's fun to play' feeling again.'
Johnson, who won this year's BellSouth Classic for his first tour victory, started on the back nine Friday and did not look like he would be sharing the lead at the halfway point.
He missed a 5-footer for par at No. 12, but came back to birdie the 13th, this time cashing in from 6 feet. Johnson missed the green at 15, but chipped to 3 feet and kicked in the birdie putt. He drained a 25-foot birdie putt at 18 to make the turn at 33.
Johnson hit a sand-wedge to 2 feet to set up birdie at the second, his second birdie at the hole in as many days. He got to 7 under for the tournament with a 5-foot birdie putt at four and joined Funk in first with a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth.
Johnson is a tour rookie who has a few things going with him this week. Aside from his breakthrough win in Georgia, Johnson won the Envirocare Utah Classic on the Nationwide Tour this week last year.
'There is a trend in that for me,' said Johnson, the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year in 2003. 'I hope last year is a sign that this year will be good too.'
Kuehne, the tour's longest driver, first broke into red figures with a birdie at the third. He pulled his drive in the left rough, but got a wedge on it and rolled in the 20-footer.
He missed the green short with a 2-iron at the par-5 sixth, but chipped on and made birdie. He collected his second birdie in a row when he missed the fairway right at the seventh, but hit a lob-wedge to 2 feet for his third birdie of the front nine.
Kuehne once again was able to make birdie from the rough, this time at the par-5 13th. He pulled another drive and laid up 75 yards short of the green. His approach lipped out of the hole and Kuehne tapped in for birdie.
The 28-year-old recorded his final birdie of the round at the driveable, par-4 15th. Kuehne pulled his 2-iron and landed 15 feet from the pin, albeit in the left rough. He chipped on then tapped in for birdie and a 65.
'I played pretty solid golf,' said Kuehne. 'I hit 15 greens, but the three greens I missed were all fringes, so I was able to putt everything. I really had a low stress round, which was nice.'
Joey Sindelar, this year's Wachovia Championship winner, shot a 3-under 67 and is tied for sixth place with Bob Burns (70), Kirk Triplett (67), Esteban Toledo (66), Tom Byrum (66) and Robert Gamez (66). That group is tied at 5-under-par 135.
American Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton missed a 4-foot par putt on his 18th hole Friday to shoot a 1-over 71 and miss the cut by a stroke at 2-over-par 142.
Among the other notable players who will not be around on the weekend are: Nick Price (143), two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (143) and Fred Couples (149).
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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.