Stile-ish Leaderboard at Buick

By Sports NetworkJune 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- Darron Stiles posted his second consecutive round of 4-under 66 on Friday to move to the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes of the Buick Championship. He stands at 8-under-par 132 and is one ahead of Peter Lonard at the TPC at River Highlands.
Lonard, one of four co-leaders after Thursday's first round, shot a 2-under 68 and is through two rounds at minus-7.
Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas is among the pack of pursuers, three off the pace.
Scott Verplank, another of the first-round leaders, posted a 1-under 69 on Friday. He is tied for third place with Todd Fischer (68), Stewart Cink (65) and Notah Begay III (66) at 6-under-par 134.
Stiles began his second round on the back nine and collected his first birdie at the 13th when he two-putted the par-5 green. He parred his next four holes until the 18th, a hole that could have been a lot worse. Stiles' 5-iron approach from the fairway came up short and right of the green. He chipped through the green, then did it again, but holed his bogey putt from the fringe.
'That putt was probably the key to the round, making bogey there instead of double,' admitted Stiles.
Stiles was not lying about that putt being the key as he caught fire after the turn. He hit an 8-iron 10 feet from the hole to set up birdie at the first, then tapped in a short birdie putt at two. Stiles polished off his third birdie in a row the third when his 8-iron approach stopped inches from the cup.
He made a good par save at the fourth when his drive landed in the right rough. Stiles reached the front of the green, but sank a 7-footer to save the four.
At the par-4 ninth, Stiles hit a sand-wedge to 8 feet. He rolled in the birdie putt to move into sole possession of the lead at the midpoint.
This is the second time this season that Stiles has held at least a share of the 36-hole lead. In Memphis at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Stiles found himself on top of the leaderboard through two rounds, but ultimately tied for 22nd place.
'I think in Memphis I got ahead of myself and my brain,' acknowledged Stiles. 'Since then, I've realized that you really can't do that, especially out here because all it takes is one or two shots that you're not 100 percent focused on and your round is done.
'I think tomorrow that's my key, is to stay right there in the moment on that specific shot and not get too far ahead.'
Lonard struggled at the par-5 sixth when his 90-yard approach bounced off the downslope and into the gallery.
'Didn't kill anyone,' joked Lonard. 'Everyone was alright. Didn't have to kiss anything better, which was good. That wasn't very enjoyable. I'll blame my caddy on that one.'
He walked off with a bogey, but reclaimed the lost shot at the ninth when his sand-wedge approach stopped 3 feet from the hole.
Lonard split the fairway at the 14th, then hit another wedge to 3 feet. He converted that birdie putt, then punched an 8-iron to 20 feet at the 17th to set up birdie and get within one of the lead.
'I'm driving better than I have all year,' said Lonard. 'I hit a lot of shots that were quality shots and lipped a couple out. I just didn't hole any.'
Brent Geiberger (68), D.J. Trahan (68), Joe Ogilvie (68), Ryan Moore (63), Skip Kendall (67) and Trevor Immelman (65) are knotted in seventh place at minus-5.
The other two co-leaders from Thursday struggled on Friday. Heath Slocum and Harrison Frazar both carded rounds of 1-over-par 71 and are part of a group tied for 13th at 4-under-par 136.
The 36-hole cut came at even-par 140 and among the notable players who will miss the weekend are: 1995 PGA Champion Steve Elkington (141), reigning Rookie of the Year Sean O'Hair (142), defending champion Brad Faxon (145) and FedEx St. Jude Classic winner Jeff Maggert (146).
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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.