Webster Holds On for Maiden Victory

By Sports NetworkMay 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
European TourMILAN, Italy -- Steve Webster posted a 4-under 68 on Sunday to capture the Telecom Italia Open. Webster finished the event at 18-under-par 270 for his long-awaited first victory on the European Tour.
Anders Hansen made a final-round charge with a 66 to share second place with Bradley Dredge and Richard Finch at 15-under-par 273. Local favorite Emanuele Canonica was one shot further back at 14-under-par 274.
Webster had come close to his maiden win several times before, including a playoff loss to two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen at the 2001 Telefonica Open de Madrid. Webster was given another chance this week at Castello di Tolcinasco and he jumped out of the gate in the final round on Sunday with a birdie at the par-5 first.
The Englishman found trouble with a bogey at the par-4 third, however, and his shaky front nine continued with a bogey at the par-3 eighth. Webster responded with a birdie at the following hole and played his approach to 12 feet for a birdie at the par-4 10th.
With several players applying pressure to the top of the leaderboard, Webster drained a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 13th to remain in first. Webster then began to pull away with a birdie at the par-5 15th after he reached the green in two.
At the par-4 17th, Webster dropped his second shot inside 10 feet and ran home the birdie putt to move to 18-under. Webster then parred the closing hole to win by three strokes.
'I was concentrating really hard,' said Webster. 'My mind was racing ahead. I always thought I could win and with nine holes to go I was telling myself you are going to win this. But to make the winning putt with a couple of shots in hand was a great feeling.'
Hansen tallied a pair of birdies and a bogey over his first four holes. He added back-to-back birdies starting at the par-5 ninth and picked up a birdie at the 12th to move to 13-under.
The Dane continued his fine play with two straight birdies from the 14th, but he looked to be in trouble at the par-3 16th after his tee shot found a greenside bunker. Hansen hit out to 12 feet and rolled in the putt to save par. He managed a couple of pars on his closing holes to finish in a tie for second.
Finch, the 36-hole leader, stumbled to a bogey at the par-4 second and hit his tee shot in the water en route to a double bogey at the par-3 eighth. The Englishman persisted and collected three birdies over his next four holes to get back to minus-13.
Finch sank a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the 15th and drained a 20-footer for a birdie at the 17th on his way to a round of 70.
Dredge picked up a birdie at the first and another at the fourth to grab a share of the lead. He struggled to a bogey at the very next hole, however, and faltered again with a bogey at the 10th.
The Welshman hit his second shot to 6 feet for a birdie at the par-4 11th and made it two in a row with a birdie at the 12th. Dredge then birdied the 14th and the 17th to get to 16-under, but a bogey at the last left him three shots off the pace.
Simon Khan suffered a quadruple bogey at the 18th to fall back into a tie for sixth place with Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Jamie Spence and Andrew McLardy at 10-under-par 278. Gary Orr, Marcel Siem, Stuart Little and Adam Groom followed at 9-under-par 279.
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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.