Five Europeans you meet at the PGA Show

By Tom AbbottFebruary 3, 2010, 6:33 am
The extravaganza which is the PGA Merchandise Show is over for another year. I’m not much for gizmos and gadgets and new technology doesn’t turn me on as much as it does others. For me, the show is more about the people, than what is on display, so in this column I thought I would focus on some of the folks I caught up with last week, whilst keeping the European theme.

Anthony Netto

Netto is a British national who grew up in South Africa and now lives in Germany. A qualified PGA pro, Netto’s life was turned upside down by a terrible car accident in his early 20s. Confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Netto has made it his mission to help others in a similar position. He has developed a wheelchair which allows the user to get into a standing position, thus making a proper golf swing possible.

Netto was at the show working with an organization called Vets Help. He has made several trips to VA Hospitals throughout the U.S. and has been brought to tears with what he has seen. Through Vets Help, he hopes to give wounded veterans a chance to play golf. He’s an inspirational man and if you are wondering what restrictions the chair has, he did manage to drive a ball 345 yards at a clinic during the Deutsche Bank Championship last year.

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Nick Bradley

Bradley is the British golf coach who aided Justin Rose to the No. 1 spot in Europe in 2008. He’s also the author of the best selling book, “The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing.”

Nick is working on a new instructional book, which will follow the cutting edge theme of his first, and the new one is due out later this year.

He also tells me he’s working with a new shaft puring technology which will be able to add roughly 10 percent to your distance just by treating the shafts.

Sounds good to me.

Nigel Mangan

Mangan from Ennis County, Ireland set a new world record at the Demo Day last week by striking 7,721 balls during a 12-hour period.

I stopped by the record attempt midway through the day and Mangan looked like a machine striking golf balls in a monotonous rhythm, which obviously did the trick.

His hands looked very sore at the halfway point so no doubt he’ll be suffering for a while. Mangan was raising funds for wounded soldiers and hopes to break the 24-hour record in the not too distant future.

Sandy Jones

Jones is CEO of the British PGA and this week he celebrates his 30th year with the organization. Over dinner, he recounted memories of when the show was held in a hotel with each room being a company’s individual booth, how times have changed.

Jones’ legacy for the PGA in the UK seems to be his commitment to teaching and nurturing talent into the game. Some of the fruits of his labor can be seen with the influx of young British players on the European Tour. Jones has also been instrumental in the development of the modern day Ryder Cup.

Anna Nordqvist

The forgotten hero of 2009, the Swede won a major and the Tour Championship on the LPGA despite starting the season with limited status. Yet, she still didn’t win rookie of the year.

Nordqvist has recently made the move to the Orlando area from her Scottsdale base having attended ASU. She is now closer to coach Henri Reis, longtime swing guru of former world number one Annika Sorenstam.
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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.