Gutschewski Takes Opening Lead

By Sports NetworkJune 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
GLENVIEW, Ill. -- Scott Gutschewski fired a 6-under-par 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the LaSalle Bank Open.
Chris Couch, who owns four Nationwide Tour wins including this year's Rheem Classic crown, posted a 5-under-par 66 to share second place. He was joined there by Robin Freeman and Ben Bates, who each own two tour wins.
Gutschewski, who earned his lone win at the 2003 Monterey Peninsula Classic, opened with a birdie at the first. However, he tripped to a bogey at the next.
The 28-year-old dropped in a birdie on the third and came right back with a birdie on No. 4. Gutschewski made it three straight as his birdie try on the par-4 sixth fell into the cup.
Gutschewski faltered to his second bogey on the seventh to fall back to minus-2. The Nebraska native atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the ninth at The Glen Club.
Around the turn, Gutschewski birdied 10 and 11 to climb to 5 under. He rolled in a birdie putt on the par-4 12th and made it five in a row as his birdie attempt on the 13th found the bottom of the cup.
Gutschewski's run was ended by a bogey on the 14th that dropped him to 6 under. He got that stroke back with a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th. He finished his round with a bogey on the par-5 closing hole however.
'I was getting it in play and making some putts today,' Gutschewski said. 'I hit the ball in the fairway a lot. Overall, I'm pleased with my start.'
Couch played the back nine first and carded two birdies and two bogies over his first seven holes. The University of Florida graduate ran off three straight birdies around the turn from the 18th.
The 31-year-old eagled the par-5 fifth to get to minus-5. Couch dropped a shot at the sixth, but closed with a birdie on the ninth to share second place.
Bates got his round going with a bogey on the 11th. He sprinkled three birdies over his next seven holes to make the turn at minus-2. The 2004 Reese's Cup Classic winner birdied three of the first five holes of the front nine to climb to 5 under. He bogeyed the sixth, but closed with a birdie on No. 9.
'This tournament has a great feel to it,' said Bates. 'I couldn't be happier with my start. I tend to do better on golf courses that have a little rough. I like courses that force you to hit the fairway and that is the case here.'
Freeman rolled in his first birdie at the third. He came back with a birdie on the fifth, but stumbled to a bogey on the par-4 seventh.
The 45-year-old posted back-to-back birdies from the 12th to get to minus-3. Freeman closed with birdies on the 15th and 17th to finish in a tie for second.
Mario Tiziani and Joel Kribel each posted rounds of 4-under-par 67. They share fifth place with Greg Chalmers, Scott Dunlap, Danny Ellis, Mathew Goggin, Aaron Barber, Chris Tidland, Ted Tryba, Grant Waite, Garrett Willis, Jim McGovern, Jon Mills, Deane Pappas and Brent Schwarzrock.
Defending champion Brendan Jones posted a 2-under-par 73 to begin his title defense.
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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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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.'"

    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."

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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."