Little Kim Earns Giant Win
Dorothy Delasin, who won this event the past two years, made a strong run at the end with a final-round 67. She finished three shots off the pace at 11- under-par 205 with Grace Park (67).
Kim finished the second round one stroke behind Robbins, who managed to hold off a Saturday charge by the 5-foot-1 Korean. On Sunday, Kim's challenge was too much as she put together a bogey-free round to overtake Robbins at Squaw Creek Country Club.
Kim tallied her first birdie of the day at the par-4 third. She knocked her 5-iron inside six feet to reach 12-under but Robbins held her ground with some solid play of her own.
Robbins, in search of her first win since 1999, birdied the fifth and hit a 9-iron to 12 feet for birdie at the ninth to make a turn at minus-14. She held a two-shot edge over Kim until both players stepped onto the par-4 11th, where the momentum shifted.
Kim hit a brilliant second shot within two feet of the hole to set up birdie while Robbins found the sand with her approach. Robbins blasted out of the bunker but failed to save par from six feet. Kim converted her short putt for the birdie and the duo was tied at 13-under.
Both players were shoulder-to-shoulder until the deciding par-4 17th. Kim hit another remarkable approach and watched as the ball stopped four feet from the cup. The diminutive 25-year-old drained the putt to take the outright lead and never looked back.
'I was nervous because I missed a lot of putts before 17,' said Kim. 'Every time my putts were a double-break. Seventeen was a double-break too. So, I was just a little bit nervous.'
At the closing hole, Robbins missed the green with her second shot but gave a valiant effort with her third. She chipped from off the green and nearly made birdie, then tapped in for par and a one-under 71.
Kim put the finishing touches on a two-putt par to secure the win and the $150,000 first prize.
'I hit it very strong,' Kim said of her first putt on 18. 'I didn't know I was that strong, because I was a little bit nervous. The green was a little bumpy because a lot of the players had been walking on it.'
Kim won for the first time since the 2000 Safeway LPGA Golf Championship. The victory was her fourth on the LPGA Tour.
For Robbins, a nine-time LPGA Tour winner, her second runner-up finish of the year was bittersweet.
'I just really couldn't get the ball close enough,' said Robbins. 'The greens did get a tad bumpy. We knew that was going to happen again. Any time you can finish second, you feel a little short-sighted. At least I did have a shot coming in at the end.'
Tammie Green, another two-time winner of the Giant Eagle, fired a final-round 65 to finish at 10-under-par 206. She was joined by first-round co-leader Beth Bader and tour rookie Natalie Gulbis.
Michele Redman and Pat Hurst tied for eighth at nine-under 207.
Full field scores from the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
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."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
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.