OMeara Starts Just One Back in Florida

By Sports NetworkFebruary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2005 ACE Group ClassicNAPLES, Florida -- Bobby Wadkins had two eagles and fired an 8-under 64 on Friday, pulling clear of a low-scoring field to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the ACE Group Classic.
Wadkins, a two-time winner last season, birdied each of his last four holes after making his second eagle of the round at the par-5 13th. He had been just 2-under through 12 holes.
Mark O
Rookie Mark O'Meara fired a 7-under 65 in the opening round of the ACE Group Classic. (WireImages)
'I kept my self relaxed,' Wadkins said. 'The four-birdie finish told me I did a good job of staying out of my own way.'
Mark O'Meara, in his second Champions Tour event, shot a 7-under 65 and shares second place with Allen Doyle and two-time champion Gil Morgan. Argentina's Eduardo Romero and Wayne Levi are one shot further back at 66.
In all, there are 30 players at 3 under or better and 48 who broke par Friday at Quail West.
But they are all looking up at Wadkins, who is enjoying his first 18-hole lead since he posted two during a three-month span last year. The first ended with his win at the Boeing Championship.
Two months later, he won his first major at the Senior Players Championship.
On Friday, Wadkins chipped in from 20 yards for an eagle at No. 1, then three- putted from 30 feet for a bogey at No. 3. He landed a 9-iron within two feet at No. 6 to set up his second birdie.
Wadkins knocked a 3-wood onto the green and made his second eagle at the 13th on a 20-foot putt. He birdied the 15th on another 20-footer, drained a 12-footer at the 16th and then made putts of six and 15 feet to finish off his birdie streak.
'I had a really simple round today. Pain free,' Wadkins said. 'Iron shots that weren't good found a way to find the green.'
O'Meara improved by 17 shots over his final-round 82 in last weekend's Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, which dropped him into a tie for 38th in his Champions Tour debut.
Friday, O'Meara hit 10 fairways and 16 greens in regulation. He also started out with an eagle at the par-5 first.
'Hopefully I'll play well the next two days,' O'Meara said. 'There's a lot of nice names up there (on the top of the leaderboard).'
Doyle posted his best score at this event since he won in 1999, hitting 12 fairways and 15 greens in regulation and making seven birdies. He opened with three consecutive birdies, the last coming on a 30-foot putt at the third.
Afterward, the two-time defending U.S. Senior Open champion was in a joking mood.
'My daughter is married to the producer of The Golf Channel. Maybe I'll hog all of the TV time tomorrow,' he said.
Morgan, the 1998 and 2001 champion, carded his best-ever score at this event and has now posted a sub-par first round in Naples in each of the last nine years.
John Bland, D.A. Weibring, Mark Johnson, Morris Hatalsky, Brad Bryant and Mike Reid share seventh place at 5-under 67.
Defending champion Loren Roberts leads a group of nine players who are knotted another shot further back at 68. Roberts made this tournament his third straight win to begin last season -- a Champions Tour first.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The ACE Group Classic
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • 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.