McLardy Fires Course Record for Early Lead

By Sports NetworkJanuary 11, 2007, 5:00 pm
European TourJOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Andrew McLardy fired a course-record, 9-under-par 63 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Joburg Open.
The event is being played on two courses - the East and West Courses of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. The East course is playing to par 71, while the West is a par 72. The field of over 200 golfers will rotate courses on Friday before the low 70 and ties play the East course the final two rounds.
McLardy is trailed closely by fellow South Africans Warren Abery and Mark Murless, who each posted rounds of 8-under-par 64.
Marc Cayeux, Chris Gane, Vaughn Groenewald, Louis Oosthuizen, David Park and Brandon Pieters all shot seven-under-par 65 on the West Course. They were joined in a share of fourth place by Edoardo Molinari, who carded seven-under on the East course.
McLardy got off to a flying start and also closed with a bang. He dropped in back-to-back birdies from the first. McLardy quickly got to minus-three as he also birdied the fourth.
The South African gave that stroke back with a bogey at the fifth. He parred the next four, before flying up the leaderboard around the turn.
McLardy birdied No. 10 to move back to minus-three. He collected birdies at the 12th and 13th.
The 32-year-old eagled the par-five 15th to jump to minus-seven. McLardy's tee shot on the 15th came to rest behind a tree, but he hit a remarkable recovery shot to within three feet and drained the short putt for eagle.
McLardy also collected an eagle on the par-five 18th to end one clear of the field.
'I scrambled well on the front nine and was lucky to get away with everything that I attempted,' admitted McLardy. 'But I changed my rhythm on the back nine and things went a lot better. I was delighted with the two eagles to finish and with my back nine as a whole.'
Abery, like McLardy, played the West course in Thursday's opening round. Abery got going with birdies at the second and fourth. He made the turn in minus- three after a birdie at the ninth.
The 33-year-old came right back with a birdie on 10 then made five consecutive pars. Abery birdied the 16th and 17th before closing out his round in style with an eagle on the par-five closing hole.
Murless carded three birdies over the first six holes on the West course. After tripping to a bogey on seven, he turned in minus-four thanks to an eagle on the par-five ninth.
The 30-year-old posted a birdie on the 10th. Murless also closed with a solid string of golf. After a birdie on 15, Murless posted back-to-back birdies from 17 to end one behind McLardy.
Among those tied for 11th place are - David Dixon, Thomas Aiken, Ariel Canete, Gareth Davies, Jamie Little, Henrik Nystrom and Patrik Sjoland. They each shot six-under-par 66 on the West course, while Sven Struver and Hennie Otto carded six-under 65s on the East course.

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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.