Poulter Wins in Wire-to-Wire Fashion

By Sports NetworkNovember 3, 2002, 5:00 pm
ROME, Italy -- Ian Poulter birdied the 18th hole for a final-round 69 Sunday, as he hung on to win the Italian Open by two strokes over Paul Lawrie. Poulter finished at 19-under-par 197 in the rain-shortened tournament.
'Unbelievable,' said Poulter, who led wire-to-wire. 'I'm just so happy I hit a good drive on 18.'
Lawrie finished with a final-round 70, but it was his double-bogey on 18 that secured the title for Poulter. Poulter, who also won this event in 2000, earned his third career victory on the European Tour.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms washed out play on Friday causing the tournament to be shortened to 54 holes,
Poulter and Lawrie dueled the entire round Sunday at Olgiata Golf Club. Lawrie began the day one stroke behind Poulter, but birdied the first to tie for the lead. The duo remained tied through the fourth, as they each parred the next three holes.
Poulter reclaimed the lead with a five-foot birdie putt on five. Both men birdied the par-4 sixth, then each parred the seventh. Poulter rolled in a 12-footer for birdie on eight to extend his lead to two strokes over Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion.
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Lawrie came right back with a birdie at the par-5 ninth to get back within one shot. The pair each parred the 10th, before Poulter's lead grew back to two shots when Lawrie bogeyed the 11th.
The Scot got back within a stroke with a birdie on 12. After the duo parred the next two holes, Lawrie evened the match with a birdie on the par-5 15th.
Lawrie bogeyed the 16th, when his tee shot found a greenside bunker, to fall one behind. Poulter three-putted for bogey on 17, while Lawrie birdied the hole to take a one-stroke lead with one hole to play.
Poulter came through in the clutch with a birdie on the final hole when he stuck his second shot within five feet of the cup. Lawrie, needing only a par at worst to get into a playoff, faltered with a double-bogey after knocking his tee shot out of bounds.
'It was unfortunate that Paul hit his out of bounds but thankfully it was enough,' said Poulter. 'This is absolutely fantastic because I hadn't won this year and I've made it my goal to win every year on tour. I've done that throughout my pro career and this keeps me going forward and bettering myself all the time.'
Lawrie was looking for his seventh European Tour win and second this year. Earlier this season, Lawrie won the Wales Open.
'I would have bet my house on making four up the last,' said Lawrie. 'I thought I hit a pretty good swing on the last and it came off at an unbelievable angle right.'
Anthony Wall, Anders Hansen and Emanuele Canonica tied for third at 15-under-par 201. Barry Lane, Angel Cabrera, Jarrod Moseley and Padraig Harrington were one stroke further back at minus-14.
Nick O'Hern also carded a final-round 63 to finish at 13-under 203. He was joined there by Stephen Gallacher and Henrik Nystrom. Philip Golding, who also shot 63 on Sunday, and Andrew Marshall were one stroke back at minus-12.
Final scores from the Italian Open
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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.