LaBelle Long Lead Cox Classic

By Sports NetworkAugust 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Preferred Wichita OpenOMAHA, Neb. -- Doug LaBelle II and Michael Long each posted rounds of 8-under-par 63 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the Cox Classic.
 
Ryan Armour, Peter Tomasulo, Matt Hendrix, Scott Dunlap, Bradley Hughes, Kevin Johnson and Chez Reavie are knotted in third place at minus-7 at Champions Run.
 
LaBelle parred his first three holes, but broke into red figures with a 6-foot birdie putt at the fourth. He made it two in a row with an 8-footer at the fourth.
 
LaBelle tried to drive the green at the reachable, 315-yard, par-4 ninth, but instead found a bunker. He blasted out to 4 feet and canned the birdie putt to make the turn at 3-under-par 32.
 
At the par-5 10th, LaBelle reached the green in two and two-putted for a birdie from 40 feet. Two holes later, LaBelle hit a 4-iron to 6 feet to set up birdie at the par-3 12th.
 
He made consecutive pars at 13 and 14 and appeared destined to make another par at 15. Instead, LaBelle chipped-in from 30 feet for another birdie to reach 7 under par for the championship.
 
LaBelle hit another great shot at a par-5, this time a 3-iron landed 15 feet from the stick at the 17th. He two-putted for another birdie, then sank a 10-footer for birdie at the last to polish off his second opening-round 63 in as many starts on tour.
 
'I got off to a good ball-striking round early, but I didn't capitalize on my birdie opportunities,' admitted LaBelle. 'The greens are very receptive if you can control the spin on the short irons then the course is very scoreable. As straight as I usually drive it, that is my strength.'
 
LaBelle ranks sixth on the Nationwide Tour in driving accuracy and eighth on the money list. He won his last start, the Price Cutter Charity Championship, when he opened with a 63, but took seven days off for a wedding in South America.
 
Doesn't seem he's missed a beat.
 
'I'm just taking one shot at a time and right now, everything is working for me,' said LaBelle. 'I didn't touch a club and you don't know if that will take away your momentum. You just try to prepare mentally as best you can.'
 
Long began on the second nine and two-putted for birdie at the par-5 10th. He parred his next two, but rattled off back-to-back birdies from the 13th, both inside 5 feet.
 
Once again, the New Zealander parred his next two, but closed his opening nine in style. Long did not reach the green with his second shot at the par-5 17th, but chipped to tap-in range. He made it two in a row with a 25-foot birdie putt at 18 to make the turn at 5-under 31.
 
Long did not play as well on the second nine as he opened with three straight pars. He kicked in a 3-foot birdie putt at the fourth, then rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at five.
 
Long's drive at the ninth, found the putting surface and it took him two to get down for a birdie and a share of the lead.
 
'The birdies just fell in,' acknowledged Long, who is 39th on the Nationwide Tour money list. 'I started the year real solid, but the last month or so has been a little scratchy.'
 
Tom Carter, David Morland IV, Brendon de Jonge, Bryce Molder, Michael Sim, Steve Larick, Chris Tidland, Chris Anderson and Andrew Johnson share 10th place at 6-under-par 65.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Cox Classic
  • Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.