Irwin Trails Marsh at Sr PGA Championship

By Sports NetworkMay 26, 2005, 4:00 pm
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Graham Marsh shot a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over a group of players, including defending champion Hale Irwin, after the first round of the 66th Senior PGA Championship.
 
Irwin, who is trying to win this event for the fifth time in his career, joined R.W. Eaks, Dave Barr and Tom McKnight in a tie for second place at 3-under-par 69.
 
Curtis Strange
Curtis Strange posted a 2-under 70 and sits just two off the pace after Day 1 at the Sr. PGA Championship.
Marsh started on the back side at Laurel Valley Golf Club and picked up a birdie at the par-5 11th. Marsh missed the green in a bunker at the par-4 15th and was unable to get up and down. He dropped another shot at the par-4 16th after his approach again missed the putting surface.
 
The Australian recovered with a birdie at the par-3 17th and reached the green in two at the par-5 18th. Marsh two-putted for birdie and kept on rolling at the par-4 first after his second shot stopped within 14 feet of the hole for another birdie.
 
Marsh, a two-time major winner on the Champions Tour, hit an 8-iron to 6 feet at the par-4 second and rolled in the putt for another birdie. Marsh then took the outright lead at the par-3 eighth after his tee shot landed within 18 feet of the hole. Marsh drained the birdie try to secure the first-round lead.
 
'It's a long golf course,' Marsh said. 'But obviously I'm very happy to be where I am. On a golf course like this, driving the ball in the fairway, is of paramount importance. And I did that for the most part today.'
 
Marsh has only one top-10 finish in seven events on the Champions Tour in 2005, and the 61-year-old has finished well out of contention in his last two starts.
 
'I had two pretty miserable weeks,' said Marsh, a six-time winner on the Champions Tour. 'But I made a few changes to my putting this week and got back in an old putting style that I have done well with in the past.'
 
The early part of 2005 has been more of the same for Irwin, who already has two wins to his name. Irwin, the all-time wins leader in Champions Tour history, got off to a good start at the season's first major with a birdie at the par-4 second.
 
The 59-year-old struggled with a bogey at the following hole, however, and found trouble again with a bogey at the fifth. Irwin recovered with a birdie at the seventh to make the turn at even-par.
 
The three-time U.S. Open winner made a move down the stretch and played his second shot inside 3 feet for a birdie at the 15th. Irwin then birdied the 16th and converted a 10-foot birdie putt at the last to finish within one of Marsh.
 
'The score indicates a much better round than what I played,' said Irwin. 'I really didn't hit the ball that well. So I don't want to get terribly excited because sometimes in this game just when you think you got it, it's got you. I'm happy with the score, but certainly I need some work to make it look a little better.'
 
Eaks started on the back nine and struggled early with a pair of bogeys over his first six holes. Eaks countered with an eagle at the par-5 18th and tallied four birdies early on the front nine to surge into the lead.
 
The 53-year-old stumbled coming in with a bogey at the ninth for his share of second.
 
McKnight birdied three of his last six holes to finish one shot off the lead while Barr mixed six birdies with three bogeys for his 69.
 
'Right now I'm just kind of going day by day and just hoping that I can stay together,' said Barr, who suffered through the practice rounds because of a pulled back muscle. 'Hopefully things well be a little bit more looser tomorrow and we'll just go out and see what happens.'
 
Curtis Strange had a hot start with three birdies over his first four holes. Strange, who hasn't won since his second consecutive U.S. Open title in 1989, cooled off on the inward half with a bogey at the 11th and back-to-back bogeys from the 16th.
 
The Champions Tour rookie responded at the par-5 closing hole and just got his second shot over the water protecting the green. Strange's ball rolled 8 feet of the hole and he ran home the eagle try to finish within two of Marsh after a round of 70.
 
'They had the tees up today to make us all go for it. I like that,' said Strange. 'And I got fortunate and hit it near the hole and made the putt.'
 
Strange was joined by Ray Floyd, Bob Gilder, Perry Arthur, Jerry Pate, Hajime Meshiai and Mike Reid in a tie for sixth.
 
Tom Watson was one shot further back at 1-under-par 71 along with Peter Jacobsen, Tom Kite, Gil Morgan, Dana Quigley, Bruce Fleisher, Don Reese, Jon Chillas and Luis Carbonetti.
 
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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.