Johnson on Top at The Cliffs

By Sports NetworkApril 29, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 BMW Charity Pro-Am at the CliffsASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Richard Johnson of Wales posted a 4-under 67 on the Walnut Cove course Saturday to take the third-round lead of the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs. He stands at 10-under-par 204 and is one ahead of four players.
The first three rounds of the event were spread over three courses - the par-72 The Cliffs Golf & Country Club (Cliffs Valley), the par-71 The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards and the par-71 The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. Sunday's final round will be staged at the Cliffs Valley course.
Kevin Stadler (68), Jess Daley (67), Ken Duke (68) and overnight leader Chris Stroud (71) are knotted in second place at 9-under-par 205. Scott Weatherly managed an even-par 71 at Walnut Cove and is alone in sixth place at minus-8.
Johnson began on the back nine Saturday and hit a poor drive at his opening hole. Luckily, he got a wedge on the ball and knocked his approach close to set up a birdie.
He parred his next six holes, then reached the green in two with a 4-iron at the par-5 17th. Johnson two-putted to make the turn at 2-under-par 33 for his round and minus-8 for the championship.
On the second nine, Johnson wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He hit a 4-iron to 25 feet and converted the birdie putt at the first hole.
Johnson continued his fine play at the par-5 sixth as, once again, he reached the putting surface with a 4-iron second shot. He could not convert the eagle try, but settled for a birdie to reach 10 under par.
That score did not last long as he bogeyed No. 7. Johnson reached the par-5 eighth green with a 3-wood and two-putted for another birdie. At the ninth, Johnson holed a clutch par save to keep sole possession of the spot atop the leaderboard.
'I played pretty good today,' acknowledged Johnson, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour. 'I hit it solid all day. I made birdies when I needed to. Hopefully I'll be able to sink a few putts tomorrow.'
Johnson has not held the 54-hole lead in a Nationwide Tour event since the 2000 Ozarks Open. He has not won on the circuit since the Monterey Peninsula Classic of the same year, but Johnson is not all that shocked to be sitting in the lead.
'It doesn't surprise me,' said Johnson. 'Tee to green I've been solid all week, but I haven't gotten anything out of my game. Today I was able to take advantage of some opportunities and I went pretty low.'
Stadler got his round off to a great start with a tap-in birdie at the first at the Cliffs Valley course. He notched back-to-back birdies from the seventh and rolled in a 15-footer for birdie at 17 to get within one of the lead.
'I'm not hitting it great, but I'm making a bunch of pars,' said Stadler, who won on the European Tour earlier this season. 'I didn't expect to do much this week. I'm just not confident.'
The three players Stadler shares second with all played the Walnut Cove course and began on the back nine.
Daley mixed six birdies and two bogeys, while Stroud tallied three birdies and three bogeys. Duke recorded four birdies and a single bogey.
Chez Reavie, Matt Weibring and Jason Buha all shot 68s on Saturday and are tied for seventh place at minus-7.
The 54-hole cut fell at 1-under-par 213 with 74 players advancing to Sunday.
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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."

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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.