Pate Sets the Pace at Senior PGA

By Sports NetworkMay 27, 2005, 4:00 pm
LIGONIER, Pa. -- Jerry Pate posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the lead midway through the 66th Senior PGA Championship. He stands at 6-under-par 138 and is one ahead of R.W. Eaks at Laurel Valley Golf Club.
 
Eaks shot a 2-under 70, while Mark McNulty (66) and Mike Reid (70) are knotted in third place at minus-4.
 
Arnold Palmer, who is believed to be playing his last competitive round in his hometown, struggled to a 14-over 86 and is toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
 
Mark McNulty
Mark McNulty's 6-under 66 on Friday got him to within two strokes of leader Jerry Pate.
He delighted the galleries at his home course on the 17th hole. Palmer drained a 20-foot birdie putt, then nearly holed a 40-footer for birdie at the last. He walked off to huge applause from several recognizable faces in the crowd.
 
'The local people have, for all my life, been extremely supportive of me and my golf,' said Palmer, who is building a house near Laurel Valley. 'What can you say after you shoot the kind of scores I shot? I did play one good hole and that was it. So that gives me a license to play another round some time.'
 
Now that Palmer completed his two rounds, the focus shifts back to the tournament and Pate, who is searching for his first win on the Champions Tour since joining the circuit last year.
 
Pate began on the back nine Friday and bogeyed the 12th when he three-putted from 45 feet. He reclaimed the lost stroke at the 15th, but it didn't look like a birdie was coming. Pate drove into a bunker, then hit a 7-iron to 60 feet, where he sank the birdie putt. He made it two in a row with another long putt, but found trouble at the par-5 18th.
 
His drive landed in the fairway, but he hit a 4-iron into the wind from 175 yards. Pate hit 'absolutely the worst shot I think I've ever hit in my professional career' and came up short of the lake. His third went through the green and he walked off with a bogey.
 
Pate calmed down on his second nine and rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt at the third. He reached the green in two at the par-5 sixth and left his 30-foot eagle putt on the edge. He tapped in and kicked off a run of golf that jumped him to the top of the leaderboard.
 
At the seventh, Pate hit a 9-iron 20 feet short of the hole and converted the birdie putt. He birdied the difficult, par-3 eighth to reach 6 under par and take the lead.
 
'The golf course played difficult if you didn't hit good shots and if you hit good shots, there were holes you could make birdies on,' said Pate, who won the 1976 U.S. Open. 'I've been the leader in enough tournaments to know you got to play one shot at a time.'
 
Pate has not won since the 1982 Players Championship, but has been close on the Champions Tour. He has nine top-10s on the 50-and-over tour, including two this year, and is ready to return to the winner's circle.
 
'Although I haven't been in the lead in a long time it's still the same game,' said Pate. 'It's the same process. Just have to play your game. And for me I have to be patient and calm and swing slow.'
 
Eaks played poorly to start his round with four bogeys in his first five holes. He drew even on his round with four birdies in a five-hole span from the sixth, then played smart golf down the stretch to grab second place.
 
At the 15th, a hole he bogeyed on Thursday, Eaks hit a 9-iron to 15 feet and drained the birdie putt. He polished off his round of 70 with a birdie at the last.
 
'Overall I'm pleased as punch with that round,' said Eaks, a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour. 'That was a good comeback. Stuck in there and at least I got it setup for the weekend.'
 
Dave Barr (72), Tom McKnight (72) and Hajime Meshiai (71) are tied for fifth place at 3-under-par 141.
 
First-round leader Graham Marsh (74), 1995 champion Ray Floyd (72), reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen (71) and MasterCard Championship winner Dana Quigley (71) share eighth at minus-2.
 
Defending champion and four-time winner Hale Irwin dropped four shots over his last six holes to shoot a 3-over 75. He is part of a group tied for 13th at even-par 144 that includes Tom Kite, Mark James and Tom Purtzer.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 6-over-par 150 and among the notable players who will be absent on the weekend are: Jay Haas (151), 2003 winner John Jacobs (153), Gary Player (155) and 2002 champion Fuzzy Zoeller (155).
 
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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.