Song Singing the Right Tune at Safeway

By Sports NetworkMarch 16, 2006, 5:00 pm
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- Aree Song fired an 8-under-par 64 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Safeway International.
Maria Hjorth and Sarah Lee share second place one stroke further back at minus-7. Michele Redman posted a 6-under-par 66. She was joined in a tie for fourth place by Michelle Ellis, Young Kim and Jean Bartholomew.
Women's world No. 1 and defending champion Annika Sorenstam birdied two of her last three holes to post a 3-under-par 69, where she is tied for 28th.
Sorenstam, a three-time winner of this event, started on the back nine and opened with a birdie on No. 10. After a bogey on 12, she birdied 13 and 15. The Swede tumbled back to even-par with bogeys on 16 and 17.
The 35-year-old made the turn at minus-1 thanks to a birdie on the 18th. Sorenstam parred the first six holes of the front side before birdies on seven and nine put her at 3 under on the Prospector Course at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
'Today was a tough round. It was kind of a roller coaster,' admitted Sorenstam. 'I had some really good shots and then I had some bad ones. I have a few things to work on, but I'm very happy with 3 under, it could have been worse.'
Song got off to a fast start with birdies at two and three. She moved to minus-3 with a birdie on the sixth. The Thailand native made it two straight as she also birdied the seventh.
The 19-year-old made the turn at 5 under after a birdie on the ninth. Song birdied 10 to get within one of Lee's lead. Song drained her third birdie in a row at 11 to join Lee at minus-7.
Song parred four straight holes from the 12th. She birdied the 16th to take the lead. Song, who won the 1999 U.S. Girls's Junior amateur to become the youngest winner in event history, closed with back-to-back pars.
'Well everything went as planned today pretty much,' Song said. 'I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens and made some really good putts. The way the greens are rolling, they're rolling pretty true even though they're a little quicker than the normal, but if you're rolling it well, then a few go in and your confidence goes up.'
Lee opened on the 10th tee and bogeyed each of her first two holes. She got those strokes right back with birdies on 12 and 13. Lee got into red figures with a birdie on No. 15.
The 27-year-old jumped to 3 under with a hole-in-one at the par-3 17th.
'Yes, that was my first hole-in-one, believe it or not,' said Lee of her 6-iron shot. 'Actually, I missed the shot a little right. So it got a lucky, lucky bounce.'
Lee kept soaring as she birdied 18 and No. 1 to get to 5 under. After five pars in a row, Lee birdied the seventh and eighth to move to 7 under.
'In the morning, it was a really chilly day. I tried, but I couldn't even warm up,' Lee said. 'I didn't hit it great early, but just stayed focused and positive.'
Hjorth got off to a flying start with birdies on four of her first five holes. The Swede continued her streaky play with three straight pars, then consecutive birdies from the ninth.
The 32-year-old stumbled to her lone bogey on the 12th. Hjorth, a two-time winner in the 1999 season, birdied No. 14 to get back to minus-5. She birdied the next as well to share second place.
Paula Creamer, the 20005 Rookie of the Year, opened with a 5-under-par 67. She shares eighth place with her 2005 Solheim Cup teammate Meg Mallon, as well as 2004 Women's British Open winner Karen Stupples, Brooke Tull, three-time LPGA Tour winner Lorena Ochoa, Mikaela Parmlid, Kate Golden, five-time tour winner Mi Hyun Kim and 2003 Kraft Nabisco champion Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.
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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.