Kite Soaring in Windy Hawaii

By Sports NetworkOctober 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
KAHUKU, Hawaii -- Tom Kite fired a 5-under 67 Saturday in windy conditions to take the lead through two rounds of the Turtle Bay Championship. Kite finished 36 holes at 6-under-par 138, two shots clear of Rex Caldwell.
 
'It was a little bit of a guessing game with the wind,' said Kite whose last win came one year ago at the Napa Valley Championship. 'It has blown every day since I've been here though. I don't think we'll see it calm down tomorrow either.'
 
Hale Irwin, the three-time defending champion, struggled to a 1-over 73. He shares third place with Dana Quigley at 3-under-par 141. Joe Inman is one stroke further back at minus-2.
 
Kite opened his round on the Palmer Course at the Turtle Bay Resort three shots behind Irwin, Caldwell and Quigley, who shared the first round lead. Kite fell farther off the pace as he three-putted for bogey at the par-4 second.
 
He rebounded with a tap-in birdie at the next hole and came back to birdie the par-4 fifth from 20 feet out. Kite closed out his opening nine with a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth.
 
Kite made his move on the back nine. He chipped in for birdie on the 11th to grab the outright lead and followed with another birdie on No. 12 to extend his lead. The 54-year-old moved to 6-under with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 14th.
 
However, he dropped a shot on the par-3 15th when his tee shot carried over the green. He stretched his lead back to two shots as he birdied the par-5 closing hole from 15 feet out.
 
'I've been playing well and I'm starting to make some putts,' said Kite, who owns six Champions Tour wins. 'I really feel like my putting stroke is very, very good, very solid. I know exactly what I'm trying to do. There's just a question of whether I do it or not.'
 
Caldwell stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the first. He came back with a birdie on No. 3, but followed with a bogey at the next when his tee ball found water. He remained in the lead at that point at minus-3 with several other players.
 
As Kite was taking charge, Caldwell rolled off six straight pars. He dropped a stroke at the 11th to fall back to minus-2. Caldwell was able to climb back into a share of second place with birdies on the 14th and 18th to close out an even-par round of 72.
 
'It was tough out there as you can see by the scores,' Caldwell said. 'You try to play the best you can out there with the conditions. The wind blew a lot harder today than it did yesterday.'
 
Ed Fiori, Bob Gilder, James Mason and Tom Purtzer share sixth place at 1-under-par 143. D.A. Weibring, Butch Sheehan, Jim Colbert, Dick Mast and Lonnie Nielson are one stroke further back at even-par.
 
Graham Marsh, who is tied for 20th at 2-over-par 146, made tournament history on Saturday. He recorded the first hole-in-one in tournament history at the Palmer Course at Turtle Bay on the 140-yard eighth hole. It was the ninth of his career.
 
Marsh gained some company later in the day when Bob Murphy aced the fourth hole with a 6-iron. This marked the fourth time this season that there have been two holes-in-one in one round.
 
Jan Stephenson, a member of the LPGA Tour playing on a sponsor's exemption, had more trouble on Saturday. She stumbled to a 12-over 84 and is 20-over par for the tournament. She carded six bogeys and two double-bogeys on Saturday.
 

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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.