Heinens 61 Gives Him Louisiana Lead

By Sports NetworkApril 13, 2002, 4:00 pm
Mike Heinen fired a sizzling 11-under 61 to rocket into the lead at the Louisiana Open Saturday. Heinen's 20-under-par 196 established a new 54-hole tournament record and gave him a two-stroke lead over Charles Raulerson with one round to play.
Andy Sanders and Larry Rinker finished one shot further back at 17-under 199.
Heinen, who captured the 1994 Houston Open on the PGA Tour, was six shots off the lead at the beginning of the round. He wasted no time in picking up ground with a 12-foot eagle putt at the par-5 first.
The Louisiana native then made the first of four consecutive birdies at the fifth for a 30 on the front nine.
'When I shot 30 I felt like I was in good shape to shoot something really good,' said Heinen. 'I tried to stick with my game plan from there. I was hoping to shoot 63 or 64 to get back in it.'
Heinen was on his way to an even better score. He birdied the 12th and made his second eagle of the day two holes later at the 14th.
Heinen birdied the 16th and made it two in a row at the following hole to equal the 18-hole course record originally set by David Lebeck at last year's event.
'I've been playing really well and have been feeling like I've been leaving a few out there. Today, I got a few of those back,' said Heinen. 'I hit the ball just as good today as I did the first two days, I just made four or five more putts today.'
The two-time All-American at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette has spent time on both the PGA and Buy.Com Tours. He came close to winning his second PGA Tour event at the 1995 Freeport-McMoRan Classic but lost on the second hole of a playoff to Davis Love III.
Raulerson, who played his college golf at Louisiana State University, managed two eagles of his own but struggled to keep pace with Heinen. The 38-year-old ran into trouble with a double-bogey at No.13, the same hole he double-bogeyed in the second round.
'It's going to be an old-fashioned Louisiana shoot-out tomorrow,' said Raulerson, who will play alongside Heinen. 'It's the Cajun's against the Tigers. It'll be a lot of fun.'
Steven Alker closed out an up and down round that included a double-bogey at the par-four ninth with a stretch of three consecutive birdies. The New Zealander, who is playing his rookie season on the Buy.com Tour, carded a 69 to finish alongside Keoke Cotner and Hunter Haas at 16-under 200.
Mark Hensby and Marco Dawson were both knotted at 15-under 201 while 2000 winner Rob McKelvey was one shot further back at minus-14. He was joined by Wes Short, Anthony Rodriguez and Jason Gore.
First-round leader Roland Thatcher was part of a larger group at 13-under 203 that included 1996 Bay Hill Invitational winner Paul Goydos.
Full field scores from the Louisiana Open
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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.