Roberts in Power at Constellation Energy

By Sports NetworkOctober 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
Champions TourBALTIMORE, Md. -- Loren Roberts held off the steady charge of Fred Funk with a 3-under 67 on Saturday to remain in the lead after three rounds of the Senior Players Championship.
Roberts finished with a tough up-and-down par from below the 18th green at Baltimore Country Club and held a three-shot lead on Funk at 10-under 200.
'I hit a really good spot in the middle of the round. But my putter saved me on the last few holes,' said Roberts, who will be seeking his third Champions Tour major on Sunday.
Funk, who has never won a major on any tour, hit every fairway and missed just two greens in regulation during the third round, finishing at 7-under 203. He had the best round of the day Saturday, a 4-under 66 that kept Roberts on his toes.
'It was the best ball-striking round I've had in a long while,' said Funk, who has won on both the Champions Tour and the PGA TOUR this season.
Tom Watson shot a 2-under 68 and was alone in third place at 5-under 205. The reigning Senior British Open winner made a sloppy bogey from the rough at the 18th to fall five shots off the lead, leaving Roberts and Funk in good position to go head-to-head for the win Sunday.
Mark Wiebe (69), Des Smyth (70) and David Eger (70) were tied for fourth place at 4-under 206, six shots off the pace and all but out of contention. Jay Haas, Dana Quigley and Gil Morgan were the only other players within seven shots of Roberts.
The man they call the 'Boss of the Moss' will not only be seeking his third Champions Tour major on Sunday, he will also be looking to reverse a recent trend that has hijacked opportunities for further majors.
Roberts hasn't broken par in the final round in any of the last nine over-50 majors.
At this event last year, he coughed up a two-shot lead in the final round when he shot a 74 on Sunday at the TPC of Michigan. His lead was as big as five shots before a nasty stretch run that included two double-bogeys and a bogey.
Bobby Wadkins ended up winning despite making a double-bogey on the 18th hole.
'I really let that one get away last year,' said Roberts. 'But I've forgotten about that and I'm just going to go out and keep doing what I've been doing. I felt like I've hit some good shots and I'm just going to focus on that tomorrow.'
The week before last year's Senior Players, Roberts lost a final-round lead at the U.S. Senior Open after setting a USGA scoring record the day before when he scorched Prairie Dunes for a 62.
'I feel like I'm getting a little better, hopefully,' Roberts said.
He had five birdies and two bogeys in a solid -- if not unspectacular -- third round. Funk pulled within two shots down the stretch, but Roberts restored his lead to three when he knocked a 167-yard approach to 3 feet at the 13th for his last birdie.
Roberts drove into the left rough at the 18th, then couldn't get his club down cleanly on the ball on the approach. He ended up short of the green, and his ball rolled back down the fairway.
'Wow, that didn't come out of there at all,' Roberts could be heard saying.
He was able to chip up to 5 feet, making the par-saving putt to preserve his three-shot lead on the steady Funk. Roberts is 1-3 with the 36-hole lead on the Champions Tour.
'I always thought that majors were important. Unfortunately I didn't get into enough of them on the regular tour,' Roberts said.
This is the final major championship of the season.
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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.