Westwood Helps Carry GBI to Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 6, 2003, 5:00 pm
VALENCIA, Spain -- Lee Westwood and Paul Casey of Great Britain & Ireland combined to win nine holes Thursday and lead their respective teams to victories in fourball matches at the Seve Trophy. The GB&I team took a 3 1/2 - 1 1/2 lead over the Continental Europe squad after the first day of competition.
Westwood paired with David Howell to down Jose Maria Olazabal and Continental Europe captain Seve Ballesteros, 2-up. Casey teamed with Brian Davis to beat Ignacio Garrido and Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2 and 1.
Alex Cejka and Raphael Jacquelin gave the Continental European team their only full point Thursday when they beat Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, 4 and 3.
GB&I captain Colin Montgomerie and 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie halved their match with Fredrik Jacobson and Niclas Fasth. Phillip Price and Padraig Harrington scored a 2-up victory over Continental European team Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn.
'We would definitely have taken that if you had offered us a two-point lead at the start of play so it has been a pretty good first day for us,' said Montgomerie. 'The competition is as intense as you would expect but the standard of play has been excellent.'
Westwood and Howell fell 1-down when Olazabal birdied the par-3 fourth at Campo de Golf Parador El Saler. Howell responded with a birdie at the next and Westwood gave the English duo a 1-up advantage with a birdie at the sixth.
Ballesteros managed to square the match with a birdie at the eighth. After the two teams split the 10th and 11th holes, Westwood took over. He birdied the 13th and 14th to give his team a 2-up lead and held them there with pars on the next two holes.
The Spaniards tried to come back to gain a 1/2 point as Olazabal birdied 17 from 10 feet out to get within 1-down. However, Howell hit a magnificent shot within three feet of the cup on 18 and made the birdie for the 2-up victory.
Davis and Casey had a similar start as they fell 1-down when Garrido birdied the third. Garrido rolled in another birdie at the sixth to give his duo a 2-up lead.
Casey rallied with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to square the match. Jimenez won the 10th and 12th with a birdie and par respectively. In between, Davis birdied the par-5 11th. Casey drained his third birdie of the day at No. 13 to square the match.
After Davis and Garrido halved the 14th with birdies, Casey birdied the 15th to give his duo a 1-up lead. The Englishman followed with a 12-foot birdie on 17th to claim the 2-and-1 victory.
In the fourth match, Monty picked up a birdie at the first to grab a quick lead for the Scottish duo. Lawrie extended their lead to 2-up with a birdie at the fourth.
The Swedes fought back with a pair of birdies to square the match. Fasth cut the deficit to 1-down with a birdie on the sixth and Jacobson squared the match with a birdie on the eighth.
Lawrie gave the Scotsmen a 1-up lead with a birdie on the par-3 ninth. Jacobson evened the match with a birdie at the par-5 11th. They halved the final seven holes, including birdies by both teams on Nos. 15, 16 and 17 to split the point.
'I think myself and Paul's better ball score of 65 was about the worst of the day which gives you a good indication of the standard of play, but as always this is turning out to be a great contest on an excellent golf course at a wonderful venue,' Montgomerie said. 'I am already looking forward to the next three days.'
In the anchor match, Harrington was on fire on the front nine running off three birdies and an eagle between Nos. 4 and 7 to give his duo a 4-up lead.
Garcia began to cut into that deficit with a birdie at the ninth. He cut it to 2-down with a birdie on No. 12 and the Spaniard birdied the 14th to get his duo back within 1-down.
Harrington birdied the 15th to move back to 2-up, but Bjorn birdied the next to get back to 1-down. Harrington rolled in a birdie putt from over 20 feet out at the last for the 2-up win.
'I definitely got off to a fast start and that helped keep me going,' Harrington said. 'I seemed to be hitting them close and didn't seem to be missing too many putts either which left our opponents a bit too much to do on the back nine.'
'Padraig played unbelievably well,' said Garcia. 'We did well turning for home but he had left us just too much to do.'
Jacquelin and Cejka secured the easiest win over Rose and Poulter. Cejka and Jacquelin combined to birdie five of the first six holes, all of which they won.
Jacquelin drained his fourth birdie of the day on No. 9 to move his pair 7-up through nine. The two teams halved the following two holes.
Standing 7-down with seven holes to play, Poulter and Rose tried to make a miraculous comeback. Poulter birdied the 12th, then Rose the 13th. Poulter kept their hopes alive with a birdie at the 14th to cut it to 4-down with four holes to go.
Their hopes were dashed when Rose could only manage a par at the 15th and was halved by Jacquelin. The big win for Cejka and Jacquelin was the lone victory for the Continental European team, which lost 14 1/2 - 11 1/2 to the GB&I squad last year.
'You know we had a great start, Raphael birdied the first and I birdied the second,' said Cejka, the 2002 Trophe Lancme winner. 'It was good that we were 5-up after five holes.'
Despite the deficit, Ballesteros knows there is plenty of golf to play.
'I will go and speak to my players now, see what they feel like, how they feel about tomorrow and then I will make the decision on my pairings,' Ballesteros said. 'It was a tough day today but there is a long way still to go.'
Friday will see another set of fourball matches, before morning greensomes and afternoon foursomes on Saturday, and the traditional 10 singles matches on Sunday.
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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.