Two-Time Defending Champ Back in Hunt

By Sports NetworkFebruary 17, 2006, 5:00 pm
European TourKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- More lightning storms wreaked havoc with the second round of the Malaysian Open on Friday.
On Thursday, it was a nearly three-hour stoppage that ultimately led to a suspension of play due to darkness. On Friday, the first round was completed, but play was halted again due to lightning. The players never made it back to the course at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
The second round was suspended with over half of the field needing to complete play. Some golfers have yet to tee off in round two and play will be resumed at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Friday night in a shot-gun format.
David Park fired an 8-under 64 in the second round and is alone in the lead at 13-under-par 131.
Two-time defending champion Thongchai Jaidee rebounded on Friday with a 9-under 63. He is tied for second place with Thammanoon Srirot, who posted a second-round 65, at 12-under-par 132.
Soren Kjeldsen also fired a 63 in round two and is alone in fourth place at minus-11.
Park began on the back nine Friday and wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He birdied the par-5 10th, then birdied No. 13, a hole he bogeyed in the first round.
The Welshman collected more redemption from round one as he birdied 15, another hole that tripped him up earlier in the tournament. Park closed his front nine with back-to-back birdies from the 17th.
Park birdied the par-5 third for the second time in as many rounds. He added a birdie at the next par-5, the fifth, and took sole possession of first place with a birdie at the 182-yard eighth.
'I hit the ball straight and you have to hit the fairways on this course,' said Park, whose only win on the European Tour came at the 1999 European Grand Prix. 'I'm doing that and I am hitting my wedges close.'
Despite the bogey-free round, Park was dissatisfied with some aspects of his play on Friday.
'I had three eight-foot-and-under putts that I missed,' admitted Park, who made the cut in the first four events on the 2006 European Tour docket, but missed the weekend at last week's Johnnie Walker Classic. 'Obviously, I am hitting the ball nicely.'
Jaidee used two spectacular birdie runs in his round to move closer to a third consecutive win at this event. He tallied four birdies in a five-hole span on his front nine, the back side at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, then collected five birdies in six holes on his second side.
'Everything worked well today,' said Jaidee, who became the first player born in Thailand to win on tour when he titled here in 2004. 'The course is very soft and quite easy.'
Srirot mixed four birdies and a single bogey on his opening nine, then registered four birdies on his final nine for his 65.
'I hit really good tee shots and my putting also worked nicely,' admitted Srirot. 'I've been playing okay coming into the tournament and I'm looking forward to the weekend rounds.'
John Bickerton and Charlie Wi carded matching rounds of four-under 68 on Friday and are knotted in fifth place at 10-under-par 134. Keith Horne shot a 5-under 67 and is alone in seventh place at minus-9.
Chinarat Phadungsil posted a 4-under 68 and is in the clubhouse at 8-under-par 136. Thaworn Wiratchant, who was alone in second place after the first round, is 1-under through four holes and 8-under par for the championship.
First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez struggled badly in the second round. He shot a 5-over 77 and is part of a group tied for 47th place at 3-under-par 141.
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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.