Three Share Lead in California

By Sports NetworkSeptember 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- Jason Dufner, Shane Bertsch and James Oh each posted matching rounds of 6-under-par 65 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the Mark Christopher Charity Classic at Empire Lakes Golf Club.
Todd Gleaton and Joe Ogilvie, a two-time winner on tour in 2003 and second on the money list, posted rounds of 5-under-par 66 and share fourth place.
Dufner wasted little time in breaking into red figures Thursday although he did par No. 1. He knocked a seven-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie at the second, holed a two-footer for birdie at the third and capped off his run of birdies with a 10-foot birdie at No. 4.
Dufner, who won the Wichita Open in 2001, rolled home a six-footer for birdie at the seventh to make the turn at 4-under-par 31.
At the 10th, Dufner knocked a nine-iron to six feet to set up birdie. He parred the next four holes but found trouble at the 15th when his sand-wedge approach sailed over the green and he failed to save par.
Dufner rebounded on the closing holes with a 20-foot birdie at 16 and a six- footer for birdie at the par-five finishing hole to match his lowest round on the Nationwide Tour in 2003.
'I played pretty good. Seven birdies is good and 6-under is not too bad,' said Dufner. 'You've got to make putts. Since '01, I haven't had too many good putting rounds but today I made some putts.'
Bertsch opened with back-to-back birdies at one and two, from 15 and eight feet, respectively. He added another pair of birdies at seven and eight to head to the back nine at minus-4.
For the third time in Thursday's round, Bertsch collected back-to-back birdies. He sank a 30-footer at the 10th and an eight-footer at the 11th but three-putted from 30 feet for bogey at No. 12.
Bertsch left a few strokes at Empire Lakes on the back nine. He missed birdie putts from five, nine and four feet at holes 13-15 but joined the group at the top of the leaderboard with a two-putt birdie at the last.
'That could've been one of those 8- or 9-under rounds,' admitted Bertsch, who tied for eighth place at the beginning of the month in Utah. 'I left a few out there on the back but good things happened too.'
Oh, who started on the back nine Thursday, tallied three birdies on each of his nines to card his bogey-free 65.
Casey Martin, Doug LaBelle II, Hunter Haas, John Elliott, Jason Bohn, Ryan Howison, Robert Conrad, Kyle Kovacs, Michael Allen and Brad Ott are tied for sixth place at 4-under-par 67.
Related Links:
  • Mark Christopher Charity Classic Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage - Mark Christopher Charity Classic
  • Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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."

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.