Roberts on Top at Western Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 1, 2004, 4:00 pm
Cialis Western OpenLEMONT, Ill. -- Loren Roberts fired a 7-under-par 64 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead at the Western Open. Robert Allenby was one shot back after a round of 65.
 
Ben Curtis, who is preparing to defend his British Open title at Troon, joined Chad Campbell, Stephen Ames, Jonathan Byrd, J.L. Lewis, Robert Gamez and Mark Hensby in a tie for third at 4-under-par 67.
 
Defending champion Tiger Woods got back to action Thursday at Cog Hill for his first competitive round since a tough showing at Shinnecock. The top player in the game, who has since patched up his differences with former swing coach Butch Harmon, got off to a good start with back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 fourth.
 
The 28-year-old soon found trouble, however, with a bogey at the sixth and a double bogey at the eighth. Woods looked to be in trouble again at the par-5 ninth after his third shot flew over the green, but he drained a 10-foot putt for par to make the turn at 1 over.
 
Woods got back to even-par with a birdie at the 11th and broke into red figures with a birdie at the 13th. Woods added a birdie at the 17th but closed with a bogey at the last for a round of 70.
 
'Well, I didn't play all that well today,' said Woods, a three-time winner of this event. 'I got off to a great start and lost it in the middle of the round and got it back towards the end. I haven't quite put it all together. Either I hit the ball great and miss everything or hit it like a dog and make every putt I'm looking at.'
 
Roberts jumped out of the gate with a birdie at the par-3 second and hit his tee shot to 12 feet for a birdie at the par-3 sixth. Roberts followed with a birdie at the seventh and knocked his approach inside 11 feet for a birdie at the par-4 eighth to make it three in a row.
 
'I drove the ball in the fairway just about every hole,' said Roberts. 'If you're going to make some putts, it equates to a low score.'
 
The 49-year-old missed a couple of birdie opportunities early on the back nine, but his putting came through down the stretch starting with a birdie at the par-3 14th.
 
Roberts hit his third shot out of a bunker to 5 feet for a birdie at the par-5 15th and drained a 12-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 17th to finish off a bogey-free round.
 
'I had the ball in good position today,' said Roberts, who tied for third at this event in 1990 after opening with a 65. 'I didn't get it above the hole very often. I was always pretty much under the hole and I didn't have any tough putts.'
 
Roberts, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, has only one top-10 finish in 2004, a tie for 10th at the Nissan Open. He held the lead after the third round of the Buick Classic last month, but a final-round 78 left him seven shots out of a playoff. Despite that disappointing Sunday, Roberts has been able to move on.
 
'I had a bad putting day,' said Roberts, whose last win came at the 2002 Texas Open. 'I just got off to a bad start the first nine holes that day and didn't play well. You know, I've been out here long enough, I forget about those things.'
 
Allenby, who won this event in a playoff in 2000, used a strong finish to take second place alone. After picking up a pair of birdies and a bogey on the back side, Allenby countered with birdies at the second and the fifth to move to minus-3.
 
The Australian then birdied each of his last three holes to finish one shot off the pace.
 
Curtis tallied four birdies and a bogey over his first nine holes but stumbled on the back side with two straight bogeys starting at the 13th. Curtis countered at the par-5 15th and ran home a 35-foot putt for an eagle.
 
The 27-year-old, who will soon head across the pond to defend the major he came out of nowhere to win a year ago, added a birdie at the 17th for his round of 67.
 
'It's going to be a crazy week anyway just because I'm defending champ, but it's going to be a lot of fun,' Curtis said of the upcoming British Open. 'I'm looking forward to it.'
 
K.J. Choi, Skip Kendall, Steve Lowery, Scott Simpson, Michael Allen, Dan Forsman, Chris Smith, Dean Wilson, Kevin Sutherland, Woody Austin, Geoff Ogilvy, D.J. Brigman and David Branshaw share 10th place at 3-under-par 68.
 
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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.