Howell Retains Three-Stroke Advantage

By Sports NetworkMay 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourSURREY, England -- David Howell closed with back-to-back birdies for a round of 3-under 69 Saturday, which helped him stay three strokes clear of the field after three rounds of the BMW Championship. Howell completed 54 holes at 14-under-par 202.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez flew up the leaderboard in round three as he fired a bogey-free, 7-under 65 to move into second place at 11-under-par 205.
The 65 by Jimenez was the round of the day as conditions worsened throughout the day. Rain began to fall as the leaders were finishing their front nine. Later in the round, members of the greens crew needed to squeegee water off the 18th green so the final few groups wouldn't have to putt through puddles.
The second round was completed earlier Saturday after being suspended for the night due to darkness on Friday. Heavy rain before Friday's round caused an hour delay at the start of the round. With all the rain this week, players have been able to lift-clean-and-place their golf balls.
A pair of Englishmen -- Paul Casey (69) and Simon Khan (70) -- are tied for third place at minus-8.
Jean Van de Velde, famous for his collapse at the 1999 British Open, had the second-best round of the day with a 6-under 66. He moved into a share of fifth place at 6-under-par 210, where he was joined by Nick Dougherty (74), Padraig Harrington (68) and Francois Delamontagne (71).
Howell was steady to open his round as he started with five straight pars. He dropped in a 15-foot birdie effort on the sixth at Wentworth Club's West Course to move to 12 under.
The Englishman stuck his second shot within 6 feet of the hole on the seventh and rolled that putt in for his second straight birdie. Howell was 13 under and led Dougherty by four at that point.
Howell, who had no bogeys over his previous 24 holes, three-putted for bogey on the 10th. He missed an 8-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then had no less than 35 feet for birdie over the next several holes.
The 30-year-old two-putted for par on five straight holes, including from the fringe on 16 to remain at 12 under. Howell's approach from the rough on 17 stopped 2 feet from the cup and he kicked that in for birdie and a two-stroke lead over Jimenez.
Howell, who leads the European Tour Order of Merit, got up and down for birdie at the last to stretch his lead back to three strokes.
'A 69 was a good effort in the conditions,' Howell admitted. 'Miguel has obviously played fantastically well. If I shoot 66 (on Sunday), I can take it out of most people's hands, but if Miguel plays well then I'll have to as well.
'I'm in a strong position and there's a fair chance it's between the two of us. I figured it wouldn't be as plain sailing as yesterday, and it wasn't, but I managed to stay patient.'
Howell leads after the third round for the sixth time in his European Tour career. He won three of the previous five events. Howell's best finish at this tournament came last year when he took fourth place.
Jimenez, who missed the cut in six of his previous 16 starts here, carded four birdies on his front nine. His first came at the second, then the next was at the fourth.
The Spaniard also sank birdies on seven and nine to turn at minus-8. Jimenez, whose best finish here is a tie for fourth in 1994, birdied the 11th. He converted a birdie on the par-4 16th for the second round in a row.
Jimenez got up and down for birdie from left of the green at the last to finish at 11 under.
'Today was fantastic,' Jimenez stated. 'I was very solid from tee-to-green and also very solid on the greens. My caddy did a good job of keeping everything dry.'
Soren Hansen posted a 3-under 69 to grab a share of ninth place at 5-under-par 211. He stands alongside Niclas Fasth and Robert Karlsson.
World No. 6 Ernie Els and defending champion Angel Cabrera are among eight players one stroke further back at minus-4.
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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.