Kite Races to Early Schwab Advantage

By Sports NetworkOctober 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Charles SchwabSONOMA, Calif. -- Tom Kite fired an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Dana Quigley, the Champions Tour iron man, who has played in 262 consecutive events for which he has been eligible, shot a 7-under 65 and is alone in second place.
Hale Irwin, who holds a 39-point lead over Craig Stadler in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race for a $1 million, tax-free annuity, posted a 6-under 66 and has third place.
This is the final event of the season on the Champions Tour calendar and the field is an elite one. The top-30 on the money list compete this week under optimum conditions.
Rain earlier in the week rendered Sonoma Golf Club defenseless. Most players admitted that they thought double-digits under par would win the championship, but the soft greens allowed more than half of the field to break par in the opening round.
Kite birdied the third hole, then ran home an 18-foot birdie putt at the sixth. At the eighth, Kite sank a 35-foot birdie putt, then made it back-to-back birdies at nine, when he rolled in a 5-footer. The 1992 U.S. Open champion polished off three birdies in a row at No. 10 when his 20-footer found the bottom of the cup.
At the par-5 13th, Kite reached the green in two, but two-putted from 40 feet for birdie to reach 6 under par for the championship. He dropped a shot to par at the 15th, but came back in a big way on the closing holes at Sonoma Golf Club.
Kite once again landed on the putting surface in two at a par-5, this time at the 16th. He holed his 30-foot eagle putt to join Quigley in the lead at 7 under par.
Kite parred the 17th, but took sole possession of the lead at No. 18. He found the fairway off the tee, then knocked an 8-iron to 4 feet and tapped in the birdie putt to get the first-round lead.
'I didn't think 8 under was out there,' admitted Kite, who won this year's 3M Championship. 'The course has been playing so long and the rough is so tough. When the greens are holding like they are, you feel like you can throw some darts.'
Kite is third on the elder circuit's money list, but has only one top-5 since early September. His driving accuracy has been plaguing him, but his approach shots bailed him out of trouble numerous times.
'I was a little errant with the tee ball,' said Kite, who hit only eight of 14 fairways on Thursday. 'The irons were right on and I was pleased with those. I made some really good swings the last few holes.'
Quigley collected three birdies in his first 11 holes. He reached the green in two at the 13th, and two-putted for birdie, triggering a run of three consecutive birdies.
At the par-3 17th, Quigley's tee ball stopped 5 feet from the hole. His birdie putt rimmed around the hole before falling in and putting him alone in second.
'To win the Charles Schwab Cup would be fantastic,' said Quigley, a New Englander, who praised the Red Sox victory. 'I think the Red Sox have taken the heat of my golf. I'm really not worried about the golf right now.'
Stadler, who with five wins seems to be a lock for Player of the Year, Morris Hatalsky and Jose Maria Canizares are tied for fourth place at 4-under-par 68.
U.S. Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen, Jerry Pate and last week's runaway winner at the SBC Championship, Mark McNulty are knotted in seventh at 3-under-par 69.
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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.