Haeggman Goes Low for Victory

By Sports NetworkMarch 14, 2004, 5:00 pm
DOHA, Qatar -- Joakim Haeggman fired a final-round, 7-under 65 on Sunday to come from behind and win the Qatar Masters. He finished at 16-under-par 272 and won by a single shot over Nobuhito Sato at Doha Golf Club.
 
The victory was Haeggman's first since the 1997 Volvo Scandinavian Masters and his third on the European Tour. He is playing this season on a medical exemption after breaking his ankle in an ice hockey accident.
 
'I tripped over and sat on my ankle,' said Haeggman, who broke his ankle in two places. 'I am not so fast these days and the bone didn't hold. I spent a long time trying to walk again but it's fine now. The nearest I get to an ice rink is 400 yards away when I drive past.'
 
Sato, an overnight co-leader, needed an eagle on the final hole of regulation to force a playoff but only made birdie. He carded a 4-under 68 on Sunday to post his highest finish on the European Tour.
 
Raphael Jacquelin, the other co-leader with Sato after the third round, managed a 3-under 69 and tied for third place with Brian Davis and Jose Manuel Lara, who both shot rounds of 5-under 67. The trio came in at 14-under-par 274.
 
Haeggman, who began the final round two strokes behind the co-leaders, broke out quickly on Sunday with five birdies in his first seven holes. He took over sole possession of first place with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 10th to reach 15-under par.
 
The Swede birdied the par-3 13th to go two ahead but dropped a stroke to par at the very next hole. Haeggman parred holes 15-17 to remain one up on the field as he played the par-5 18th at Doha Golf Club.
 
Haeggman sank a 15-footer for birdie at the last to go two in front of Sato and Jacquelin, who both needed eagle at the final hole to force a playoff.
 
Sato landed in the fairway at 18 but realized he could not make the putting surface in two. He laid up then pitched his third to six feet and made the birdie putt to go to 15 under.
 
Jacquelin tried a driver off the fairway with his second at 18 and landed in a greenside bunker. His blast did not fall into the cup and he made par to stay in third place.
 
With the victory, Haeggman now has his sights set on making this year's Ryder Cup team, a team he has made only once in 1993. He was one of Sam Torrance's advisors at the European victory in 2002 but now the Swede wants to be a bigger part of the action this September.
 
'The hard practice has paid off and I would love to get back into the Ryder Cup Team again,' said Haeggman, who went 1-1 at the Belfry in '93. 'I enjoyed walking the fairways with Sam last time, but I couldn't see why I wasn't there playing. This is just one step on the road and I feel I can cope with pressure and play at the highest level again.'
 
For Sato, this finish was a step in an ongoing process. Sato, who turned 34 on Friday, earned his tour card this year through Q-School but with his second-place check this week, he moved to 18th on the Order of Merit and looks to be in solid shape for retaining his card next year.
 
'I am so happy,' said Sato. 'I never expected to play so well and to make only two bogeys all week was good. I am pleased with the birdie at the last because I have done so much to keep my card for next year.'
 
Martin Maritz shot a final-round 67 and took sixth at 13-under-par 275, Greg Owen finished a stroke back at minus-12 thanks to a 5-under 67 in Sunday's final round.
 
Roger Chapman (70), Robert-Jan Derksen (65), Stephen Gallacher (67) and David Howell (70) shared eighth place at 11-under-par 277.
 
Darren Fichardt, the 2003 champion, shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday and tied for 36th place at 5-under-par 283.
 
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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.