Goosen Tied For Dubai Lead Tiger In Hunt

By Sports NetworkFebruary 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen overcame a long offseason and fired an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to share first place after the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
Richard Green and Jamie Donaldson joined the South African atop the leaderboard at the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club. David Lynn and Ross Bain are tied for fourth place at minus-6.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is only three back despite a couple of missed opportunities.
Tiger Woods, who made his 2006 debut last week with a playoff win at the Buick Invitational, posted a 5-under 67 and is part of a group tied for sixth place.
 
Woods wasted little time in breaking into red figures as he birdied the second hole. He eagled No. 3 and birdied No. 4 to reach 4 under par through four holes.
 
The No. 1 player in the world cooled a bit as he parred his final five holes on the front nine. He bogeyed the 10th, but rebounded with a pair of birdies in a three-hole span early on the back nine.
 
That would be all for the reigning Masters champion and British Open winner.
 
Goosen, who played only two rounds in the last six weeks, opened on the back nine and struggled off the tee. He went way left at 10, but saved par. It was right off 11 and left off 12, but both times he was able to get up and down.
 
At the par-5 13th, Goosen hit a 5-iron with his second shot and knocked it to 20 feet. The South African converted the eagle putt, then closed his first nine with three straight birdies from the 16th.
 
Goosen, who won the South African Airway Open at the end of last year, kept the strong play going on the second nine. He birdied the first for four in a row, then birdied the par-5 third hole and parred his next five before reaching 8 under with a birdie at the ninth.
 
'It was nice to get off to that start and then I had a good run in the middle of the course,' said Goosen, who has not played in this tournament since 2001. 'I must say coming out, I didn't expect a lot. I missed a lot of fairways, but I made a lot of putts.'
 
Green, who won this tournament in a playoff against Ian Woosnam and Greg Norman in 1997 with his wife on the bag, birdied two and three, then collected his last birdie of the front nine at the par-4 ninth.
 
On the second nine, Green caught fire. He recorded birdies at four of his first five holes, including three in a row from the 10th. The Australian polished off his 64 with a birdie at the 17th.
 
Throughout his practice rounds all week, the memories of his 1997 victory have loomed large. That has been his only win on the European Tour, despite three straight top-55 finishes on the Order of Merit, and the Australian might be ready to return to the winner's circle.
 
'It's nice to go out and shoot a good score and bring back all of those memories of '97,' said Green. 'I kind of hope to play like these boys and make it happen, rather than get lucky. That's the way I see it now.'
 
Donaldson, who has been crippled by back problems in recent years, parred his first four holes, before tallying his first birdie at the fifth. That was his only birdie on the first side and Donaldson did not fly out of the gate on the back nine. He made only one birdie in his first three holes, but fortunes changed at the par-5 13th.
 
Donaldson birdied that hole, then ran the table to finish with six consecutive birdies. Donaldson could not recall a birdie streak of more than five, but the Welshman has a simple strategy.
 
'I just concentrate on staying out of my own way and letting things happen,' said Donaldson. 'I wasn't really aware of how many I had. I knew I had quite a few and was quite surprised to see six in a row when I got in.'
 
Last week's Qatar Masters champion Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty, Niclas Fasth and Nick O'Hern joined Woods in sixth place at minus-5.
 
Defending champion and three-time winner Ernie Els carded a 4-under 68 on Thursday. Darren Clarke, Costantino Rocca, Lee Westwood and Barry Lane are among those who are tied with Els in 12th place.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Dubai Desert Classic
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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.