Race to the Finish at Doral

By Sports NetworkMarch 6, 2004, 5:00 pm
MIAMI -- Australia's Craig Parry posted a 5-under 67 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead at the Ford Championship at Doral. He stands at 13-under-par 203 and owns a one-shot lead over Gene Sauers and Scott Verplank.
Phil Mickelson birdied the famous 'Blue Monster,' Doral's lengthened par-4 closing hole to shoot a 3-under 69. He is tied for fourth place with David Toms (65), K.J. Choi (66), Danny Ellis (67), Joe Durant (67) and Chris DiMarco (67).
Scoring was much better on Saturday than the previous two rounds thanks to less wind. Only 15 of the 79 players who teed it up in the third round failed to break par.
Parry took advantage of the conditions early Saturday with a 13-foot birdie putt at the second. He made it two in a row with a 17-footer at No. 3, then added his third birdie of the round at the fifth, this time from 10 feet.
Parry tied for the lead at the par-5 10th. He drove into the right rough, then laid up with his second. Parry knocked his third to 11 feet and sank the birdie putt to reach 12-under par.
The Australian took sole possession of first at the 11th when he drained a six-foot birdie putt. He collected his third birdie in a row at 12 to go two clear of the field.
Problems arose for Parry. He drove into a bunker on the left side of the fairway at 16 but was able to save par. Parry found a trap on the right side at No. 17 and was unable to recover. He knocked his second 28 feet short of the hole and ran his four-foot par save by the hole on the right.
Parry parred the diabolical 18th to maintain his spot atop the leaderboard.
'I didn't think I'd play as well as I have,' said Parry, who tied for eighth in a Nationwide Tour event in Australia two weeks ago. 'I hit the ball well in the Jacob's Creek tournament but my putting wasn't really all that flat. This week I'm starting to hole putts.'
Parry overslept and nearly missed his tee time on Thursday morning. That shouldn't be a problem on Sunday as he is in the last group, scheduled to go off at 1:45 PM(ET).
'I might be able to make the late hit off,' said Parry.
Parry previously held the 54-hole lead four times on tour, including the 1992 Masters. His only win of the group was the 2002 WGC-NEC Invitational, his only title on the PGA Tour but the 38-year-old knows what it will take to visit the winner's circle on Sunday.
'I've got to go out there tomorrow and play really well,' said Parry. 'They're not going to give it to me, I know that. I'll have to shoot under par for sure.'
Sauers, the 2002 Air Canada Championship winner, collected seven birdies on his round and picked up No. 8 with a seven-footer for birdie at the 16th. That got him to 12 under for the tournament, where he would stay after his third-round 64.
Verplank, a Ryder Cupper for the American side in 2002, tallied six birdies and a bogey on his front side to move up the leaderboard. He holed a 15-foot birdie putt at the 11th, then got to minus-12 with a long birdie putt at the 17th.
'When we started out today, the wind was not blowing,' said Verplank, who fired a 65 on Saturday. 'It was there for the taking. I think it's going to take something similar to today.'
Overnight leader Retief Goosen could not get anything going on Saturday. He stuck his approach to six feet at the last for a 1-under 71 and that extended his streak of rounds of under par or better to 28.
The 2001 U.S. Open champion is tied for 10th place with German Alex Cejka, who carded a 3-under 69 in the third round. They are knotted at 10-under-par 206.
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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.