Weir Hangs On Defends Nissan Title

By Sports NetworkFebruary 22, 2004, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Mike Weir, the reigning Masters champion, saved par at the 72nd hole Sunday to outlast Shigeki Maruyama by a single stroke and win his second consecutive Nissan Open.
 
Weir only managed an even-par 71 on Sunday to finish the tournament at 17- under-par 267. Maruyama fired a 4-under 67 to finish a shot behind at minus-16.
 
The pair were tied at 17-under par when they came to the famous closing par-4 at Riviera Country Club. Maruyama's drive landed in the right rough and was not very long. Weir found the fairway and seemed to be in control, but Maruyama hit a good 4-wood just short of the green. Weir, meanwhile, hit a 4-iron left of the green into the rough.
 
Maruyama, who had almost all of the green to work with thanks to the back-left pin location, chipped his third shot 15 feet past the stick. Weir hit a spectacular pitch, with little green to work with, that ran over the right side of the cup before stopping a foot from the hole.
 
Maruyama blew his par-saving putt three feet past the hole, then made his bogey putt and watched as Weir tapped in for par to claim his first victory since last year's Masters.
 
'I thought that was it,' said Weir, referring to his amazing pitch at the last. 'I thought it was a good way to end it. I thought I made it.'
 
Weir picked up victory No. 7 on the PGA Tour and this was his first win while owning a piece of the 54-hole lead. He also became the first repeat Nissan Open champion since Corey Pavin in 1994-95.
 
'To win back-to-back, I never expected that,' said Weir, who pocketed $864,000 for the victory. 'It's nice to be mentioned at this tournament as a multiple winner.'
 
Weir opened Sunday's final round with a five-shot lead and added to it with birdies at one and three. His lead was now seven and seemed insurmountable for the sixth-ranked player in the world but a bogey at the fourth, coupled with a Maruyama birdie at No. 7, and the margin was back to five.
 
The next swing in momentum came at the 10th when Weir's approach spun back into a bunker. He blasted out to 10 feet, but the par putt died right. Maruyama cashed in an eight-foot birdie putt and the lead was cut down to three.
 
Weir gave one back at the 13th hole. His approach landed on the fringe and he ran his birdie putt six feet past the stick. Weir's par-saving putt missed right and now Weir was ahead by two at minus-17.
 
Maruyama then took over with some precise approach shots. At the 15th, he knocked a 2-iron from 211 yards out to two feet and kicked in the birdie putt to trim the margin to one. One hole later, Maruyama played a 6-iron eight-feet over the flag to set up birdie and finally tie Weir for the top spot on the leaderboard.
 
Both players saved pars after missing the green with their third shots at the par-5 17th, but it was Weir whose short game held up down the stretch.
 
Weir had owned a share of the 54-hole lead five times before going into Sunday's final round and those five occasions netted zero victories. He held on this time, but Maruyama almost extended Weir's dubious record.
 
'It was nerve-racking,' said Weir. 'Shigeki was playing very well today. He just played fantastic. I made a couple of mistakes, but other than that I played solid. I hit it right in the middle of the fairway and the smart side of the hole.
 
'It was a tough day all around. I thought I ended it in big-time style.'
 
Stuart Appleby shot a 5-under 66 on Sunday to take third place at 14-under-par 270.
 
John Daly, last week's Buick Invitational winner, birdied the final two holes to shoot a 4-under 67 and finish fourth at minus-13. This marked the first time Daly recorded back-to-back top-fives since Phoenix and the Buick Invitational in 2002.
 
Hank Kuehne carded a four-under 67 to come in fifth at minus-12, followed by Kirk Triplett, who shot a final-round 68, to post a solo sixth at 11-under-par 273.
 
Tiger Woods rebounded from a 1-over 72 on Saturday with a 7-under 64 on Sunday. He vaulted into a tie for seventh place with Jay Williamson (64) and J.J. Henry (69) at 10-under-par 274.
 
'Today I just hit it closer,' said Woods. 'I made a few putts, but more importantly I hit my irons better.'
 
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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.