Goosen Laps Australian Field
In a performance reminiscent of Tiger Woods' annihilation of the field at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Goosen seemed to toy with a difficult course that sent many of his challengers sliding down the leaderboard.
'I'll give myself 10 out of 10. I played great,' said Goosen, who himself won the U.S. Open in 2001. 'I've shot 62 a couple of times at Loch Lomond but I would say in the conditions, and the way the course is set up, this is probably the best round I've played.'
The 32-year-old South African tallied nine birdies in a bogey-free round, including an impressive closing birdie after a patience-testing delay at the par-4 18th. He finished with a three-day total of 15-under-par 201.
Ernie Els (71) and Sergio Garcia (72) each bogeyed the last to finish the day tied for second place at 2-under 214.
Englishmen Anthony Wall (69) and Simon Dyson (70) were together at 1-under-par, while Australia's Wayne Riley (69) finished alongside Pierre Fulke (74) of Sweden at even-par 216.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and New Zealand's Steve Alker, just one and two shots behind Goosen coming into the day, respectively, both struggled to find fairways and greens in round three. Jaidee ballooned to a 6-over 78 and Alker carded a 77 to join a seven-way logjam at 1-over-par.
Goosen notched four birdies on the front nine, the last with a 15-foot putt at the par-3 eighth to reach double digits under par. He took a seven-shot advantage into the back nine, then blew the tournament wide open with four birdies in the span of five holes from the 11th to the 15th.
The closest Goosen came to posting a bogey was at the par-3 17th. But even after his tee shot landed short of the green and his chip stopped seven feet short of the hole, Goosen managed to calmly roll in the putt to keep his card clean of mistakes.
The difficult conditions resulted in slow play, and Goosen had to wait at least 20 minutes to tee off at the 459-yard 18th, the hardest hole on the course. After waiting some more in the fairway, Goosen roped a 2-iron from 225 yards to 15 feet then sank the putt to complete the record round.
'I'm seeing the shots so well out there and obviously I'm reading the greens great,' Goosen said. 'I've been hitting the ball well for the last three weeks and it was only the putting which was holding me back.'
Goosen's putting has improved each day; he needed 32 putts during his first-round 70, 26 during Friday's 68 and only 25 on Saturday.
Although Goosen's 63 matched the score set by Gary Player at Lake Karrinyup in 1974, the course has been lengthened by some 300 yards since then. The previous course record on the extended layout was 65, shot most recently by Alker in round two.
The 13-shot lead produced by Goosen established a new European Tour record for largest leading margin after 54 holes, shattering the old mark of 10 strokes held by Tony Jacklin (1974 Scandinavian Enterprise Open), Ken Brown (1984 Glasgow Open) and Woods (2000 U.S. Open).
Goosen has a chance to break the European Tour and U.S. PGA Tour record for winning margin, which Woods set at 15 strokes at Pebble Beach.
Goosen, a four-time European Tour winner at this point a year ago, has been one of the world's hottest golfers since his U.S. Open victory in an 18-hole playoff at Southern Hills last June. He built on his first major title by winning the Scottish Open a month later.
After a disappointing second-place showing at the Trophe Lancme, where he was caught from behind in the final-round by Garcia, Goosen closed the season with five straight top-10 finishes, including his third triumph of 2001 at the Open de Madrid.
He ended the season with 2,862,806 euro to finish No. 1 on the Order of Merit.
So far, so good for Goosen in 2002. During the European Tour's two-event swing through his home country, Goosen tied for fifth at the South African Open and tied for second at the Dunhill Championship.
Save for a collapse of titanic proportions Sunday, Goosen will earn his eighth career victory (apart from his seven South African titles) and be well on his way to another big year.
Full-field scores from the Johnnie Walker Classic
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.