Petterssons Lead Grows to Three

By Sports NetworkMarch 12, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Carl Pettersson carded a 4-under 68 Friday to extend his lead to three strokes after two rounds of the Honda Classic. He completed 36 holes at 13-under-par 131.
Todd Hamilton and Brad Faxon posted matching rounds of 6-under 66 to climb into a tie for second place. They stand at 10-under-par 134, two strokes clear of Fredrik Jacobson (69).
Pettersson opened his round on the back nine on the Sunrise Course at Country Club of Mirasol and sank his first birdie of the day at the par-3 11th.
He then ran home back-to-back birdie putts from the 14th to climb to minus-12, two shots clear of the field.
'I think it's important if you get off to a good start, which I did today,' Pettersson said. 'I birdied my second hole, which was nice, and I just carried on from yesterday.'
Around the turn, Pettersson sank a birdie putt at the first. The Swede then stumbled to his first bogey of the event at the very next hole.
Pettersson erased that mistake with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 fifth before closing with four straight pars.
'Yeah, it's been great. I'm glad I carried on from yesterday, and felt like I played nearly as good as yesterday, but didn't make quite as many putts,' said Pettersson. 'I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing.'
Pettersson is in unknown territory. By his own admission, he has never held a 36-hole lead before.
'I've never had a 36-hole lead in Europe,' Pettersson admitted. 'I actually don't think I've had a 36-hole lead ever. I've been close in Europe a couple of times, but tomorrow, I'll see what happens.'
Hamilton also started on the back nine and stumbled out of the gate with a bogey on the par-4 10th. He made up for that as he converted back-to-back birdies from the 12th to get to 5 under.
The 38-year-old caught fire around the turn. He dropped in a birdie putt at the 17th and followed with another birdie at the next. Hamilton made it three straight when he birdied the par-4 first.
Hamilton dropped another stroke at the par-3 third. He came right back with a birdie at the fifth and the University of Oklahoma product capped his round with consecutive birdies from the seventh.
'Obviously, I'm very pleased with how I've played,' said Hamilton. 'I've been struggling with my putter and I'm not a big fan of bermuda greens, so I'm very excited and it's kind of unexpected that I'm doing so well, not liking the bermuda greens. But love the course and I just hope to continue playing well.'
Faxon used a scorching front nine to take the lead prior to Pettersson teeing off. Faxon birdied the first, then ran off three straight birdies from the fourth.
He then sank back-to-back birdies from the ninth to move to minus-10. The seven-time winner on tour closed with eight pars in a row.
'That was a good round today, very solid with no bogeys, lots of fairways, lots of greens,' Faxon said. 'I drove it well and I got off to a great start. I birdied No. 1, which kept the momentum going from yesterday.'
Davis Love III (69) and his good friend Fred Couples (70) moved into a share of fifth place at 6-under-par 138. They are joined there by Mark Hensby, Tommy Armour III, Craig Bowden, Jesper Parnevik, Rory Sabbatini, John Senden and Tom Pernice, Jr.
Luke Donald and former Masters Champion Larry Mize pace a group of players at 5-under-par 139.
The cut line fell at even-par 144 with defending champion Justin Leonard surviving on the number.
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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.