Van de Velde Holding on in Portugal

By Sports NetworkMarch 25, 2006, 5:00 pm
European TourMADEIRA, Portugal -- Jean Van de Velde shot a 1-under 71 on Saturday to take sole possession of the lead heading into the final round at the Madeira Island Open.
The Frenchman stands at 11-under-par 205 for a two-shot lead over 1999 champion Pedro Linhart of Spain, who fired a 3-under 69 Saturday to reach minus-nine.
Jarmo Sandelin, who shared the overnight lead with Van de Velde at 10 under, dropped into a tie for third place following a 2-over 74. He was joined at minus-8 by Damien McGrane (71), Simon Wakefield (68) and Lee Slattery (66).
In all, there are 10 players within five shots of the lead. They are all looking up at a man who has been in this position before, with less than successful results.
Each of the last three times Van de Velde has held at least a share of the lead after three rounds, he has finished a runner-up. Those instances include his collapse at the 1999 British Open, but also the Open de France last year, where a second-place finish helped him re-gain his tour card.
Van de Velde had been playing on invitations only when he finished second at the Open de France. Still, he lost in dubious fashion to Jean Francois Remesy, stumbling to a double bogey on the first playoff hole.
'All I am going to do is concentrate on my game,' said Van de Velde, who battled windy conditions Saturday after the round resumed following a four-hour fog delay.
'Hopefully we will have better conditions (Sunday) and we will see what happens,' he continued. 'It's there -- I am playing well and was under par again today.'
Van de Velde moved to 11 under with a birdie at the third, his second straight birdie at the par-5 hole, but gave that stroke right back with a bogey at the next.
Another bogey at the par-4 ninth dropped Van de Velde to minus-9, but that would be his last dropped shot on the day. He went on to birdie the par-4 14th and the par-5 16th to reach 11 under again.
If Van de Velde can hang on, he would win for only the second time on the European Tour. His only other title came the first time he held a third-round lead -- at the 1993 Roma Masters.
'To me, this all started last year with me starting to play golf and then getting my card again,' said Van de Velde. 'Now here I am leading a tournament, so what else could we hope for?'
Linhart, whose 1999 victory at this event remains his only European Tour title, mixed four birdies with one dropped shot in his round. He was bogey-free until the 18th, where a five dropped him to 9 under.
'I like this place. I come from a hilly golf course in the Canaries so I am used to playing on this kind of course,' said Linhart. 'If I can win tomorrow, then it would change everything, but I don't want to think too much about that.
'When I won here in 1999 I was leading the tournament from the second round, so this is completely different. That was also a long time ago.'
Magnus Persson fired a five-under 67 in his third round to move up 20 places and into a tie for seventh place. He stands at minus-7, along with Garry Houston (72) and Tom Whitehouse (71).
Niclas Fasth (67) and Stephen Gallacher (71) are one stroke further back.
The third round was delayed four hours due to low cloud cover and foggy conditions.
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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.