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Rahm has grown to love Torrey Pines, on and off the course

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s relationship with Torrey Pines didn’t get off to a great start.

In 2016, the Spaniard made the drive over from Phoenix with then-girlfriend Kelley Cahill for the Monday qualifying event. He missed qualifying for the tournament by a stroke.

Farmers Insurance Open: Full-field Scores | Full coverage

“I missed it by one and we drove back. A year after (2017) I win the tournament the way I did,” Rahm recalled Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open where he’s back in the hunt following a first-round 68 on the North Course that left him tied for 11th. “So, the history here, it’s pretty special.”

But Rahm’s affinity for the San Diego-area goes beyond professional success. He asked Cahill to marry him along the rugged coast. Although he and Cahill were married last fall in a ceremony in Spain the couple plans to have a second wedding in San Diego in February for relatives and friends who couldn’t make the trip.

Jon Rahm married Kelley Cahill on Friday at his childhood church, Basilica of Begoña in Bilbao, Spain, and the photos are stunning.

“We come here a lot. I come quite often because it’s kind of like a getaway. We love coming here and that’s why we keep having such great moments in life out here, too,” he said. “Hopefully there’s many more to come.”

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A GPS and a speaker all in one: Bushnell unveiled its innovative product this week

ORLANDO — A cart speaker might not be your thing, but when you decide to make one and you’re Bushnell, the premier company for providing golfers with on-course yardage information, it becomes a whole lot more than a music machine.

The Bushnell Wingman is a speaker that doubles as a GPS yardage device, providing front, middle and back distances when paired with the Bushnell Golf app on your phone. You can also play music through the Bluetooth, and by using the remote, which also conveniently doubles as a ball marker, the music pauses for the audible readout of the distances to the green. Think Beyonce meets Bones. Or Dua Lipa channels LaCava. Or Michael Buble mixed with Michael Greller.

“We were interested in the speaker idea, but we certainly wanted to combine it with what we’re best known for,” said Derek Schuman of Bushnell, which unveiled the product this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. “It’s cool, new, unique, fun and really first to market. We’re excited about the potential and it’s been immediately well received.”

RELATED: PGA Show 2020: You can now rent (or own) your own robotic putting simulator unit (if you have the money)

Bushnell, whose laser-distance devices are the most preferred on the PGA Tour by a near universal margin, is best known for handheld distance-measuring devices like the Pro XE and the latest introductions, the Tour V5 and Tour V5 Shift.

The Wingman ($150, retailing in April), which produces music or other audio when paired with related apps on your phone, features a battery life of at least 10 hours, automatic hole advance, and an input to charge other devices. It also comes with the company’s Bite magnetic clip that allows the speaker to be mounted on your cart.

RELATED: PGA Show 2020: Five affordable new launch monitors geared for the everyman


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Sidelined Jason Day was ‘angry’ while watching the Presidents Cup

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day was angry.

The Australian was supposed to be a big part of the International team’s game plan at last month’s Presidents Cup, but his ailing body wouldn’t allow it and he was forced to watch the matches from his couch.

“Every time I would watch the Presidents Cup coverage, I was angry,” Day said Tuesday at the Farmers Insurance Open. “I had to go up to the barn to kind of either ride or do some sort of exercise to get some frustration out, because I really wanted to be there.”

Day is making his 2020 debut following eight weeks of rehabilitation on his back, which caused him to withdraw from the matches at Royal Melbourne after captain Ernie Els made him a captain’s pick.

Despite his aggravation, Day said he did appreciate the competition, which had been mostly one-sided until last month’s event. The Internationals took a 10-8 lead into Sunday’s singles matches but lost to the Americans, 16-14.

“Watching it over here and seeing how it finished up, it would have been nice to finish really, really close,” he said. “It was fun to watch, but I was quite frustrated sitting on my backside watching it.”

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Callaway Chrome Soft family will be more different from each other than ever before to better meet the needs of different players

The Callaway Chrome Soft golf ball franchise grew out of a stated mission to think about the performance requirements and ultimately the design of a golf ball in a different way than other companies thought of golf ball technology. That different thinking again takes prominence with the Chrome Soft’s 2020 collection, as the two main balls, Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X, are more different from each other than they’ve ever been.

That’s because the players these two balls are now designed for are demanding fundamentally different things and those demands require fundamentally different solutions.

While it’s still the case that both types of players want ball speed and distance and short game spin, and both balls deliver that performance through a multilayer core and mantle and urethane cover construction, the guts of Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X seem as different from each other as two balls from two different brands. While the Chrome Soft features a dual core where two kinds of rubber formulations of differing firmness comprise an inner and outer core that are then wrapped by an ionomer mantle layer followed by the urethane cover, the Chrome Soft X features a significantly larger single core and two mantle layers followed by the urethane cover. It’s the latter that is the significant departure from the past versions focused on higher swing speed, elite-skilled players.

“We really focused this year more on the demographic of this type of golfer more than in any other year that we have with Chrome Soft X,” said Callaway’s Dave Bartels, senior director of golf ball research and development. “We really felt like we were missing something that was critical to the success of this product. Through testing with tour players and a lot of the elite amateurs we discovered that we really need to focus on absolute raw ball speed. A lot of the better golfers have different needs, but they all do want more speed when they hit the ball in the center of the face. That was the genesis of a solid piece core with a dual mantle system.”

Both balls are a four-piece construction, but Chrome Soft uses a dual core, a single mantle and a urethane cover, while Chrome Soft X uses a large core, two mantles and a urethane cover. Similarly, both balls look to boost distance through a thinner urethane cover that allows for a larger core structure. By thinning the cover (10 percent on Chrome Soft and 22 percent on Chrome Soft X), more of the ball’s volume is devoted to distance-enhancing components in the core and mantle pieces. The inner core is 34 percent larger on the Chrome Soft to help fuel more ball speed, but it is again supported by an outer core infused with microscopic strengthening compound of graphene, the Nobel Prize-winning element that was introduced for the first time on the 2018 Chrome Soft balls.

On the new Chrome Soft X for 2020, the single core construction is fundamentally different than the previous version’s dual core construction. Compared to the distance-generating inner core of the 2018 Chrome Soft X, the 2020 Chrome Soft X uses a core that’s 117 percent bigger and is constructed from a high molecular weight neodymium rubber.

But for all the talk of the larger, faster material in the core of the new Chrome Soft X, it’s the role of the mantles that is unique for a Callaway design. The firmer outer mantle is both helpful to distance but also serves as the foundation for the thin urethane cover, allowing it to pinch more effectively between clubface and that mantle for better short game spin.

“We’re trying to look holistically at the core and mantle system to see how we can we best achieve fast ball speed,” Bartels said. “We looked at dozens if not hundreds of designs for the mantle layers and we found that together the mantle layers provide a system that kind of encapsulates the core.”

Both Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X feature enhanced versions of the company’s trademark hexagonal dimple pattern for more precisely tuned aerodynamic requirements based on each ball’s expected audience and ball flight. “This new pattern on a very microscopic scale allow the ball to fly higher and by flying higher it’s going to reach its apex farther downrange for longer distance,” Bartels said.

The Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X will be offered in white and optic yellow, as well as in both the Truvis “soccer ball” pattern and the three-lined alignment markings known as Triple Track. The balls are scheduled to be at retail March 12 ($48 a dozen).

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LPGA: Nasa Hataoka did not mismark ball during final round of TOC

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Twitterverse buzz over whether Nasa Hataoka mismarked her ball on the 11th green while in contention Sunday at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions was much ado about nothing.

Full-field scores from the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions

A tweeted video (that has since been deleted) only partially showed Hataoka marking her ball but made it appear as if she laid her coin in front of her ball, picked up the ball and then returned it in front of the coin, closer to the hole. 

According to the LPGA, a tour video rules official watched the entire sequence and could see there was no violation. In fact, Hataoka could be seen marking her ball that way more than once, placing the coin behind the ball, then then moving the ball behind the coin to read the putt before returning the ball to its original position.

Nasa Hataoka and Gaby Lopez couldn’t finish the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions before darkness fell Sunday. They will return Monday at 8 a.m. ET to pick up after five sudden-death holes.

Hataoka, Gaby Lopez and Inbee Park played to a tie through regulation, with Hataoka and Lopez remaining tied through five holes before darkness suspended play. Park was eliminated from the playoff after hitting her tee shot into the water at the third playoff hole. The playoff will resume Monday at 8 a.m. at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando.

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Miguel Angel Jimenez outlasts a Hall of Fame leader board to win the season opener

It won’t be known for awhile, but if the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Haulalai is a harbinger of the PGA Tour Champions’ season ahead, it will be a memorable one.

Four World Golf Hall of Famers were tied for the lead at one point on the back nine at Hualalai Golf Club on the Big Island of Hawaii on Saturday, but it was an interloper, Miguel Angel Jimenez, who emerged the victor in a playoff with Ernie Els and Fred Couples.

Jimenez, 56, holed an 12-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the event for the second time.

Early on the back nine, Els, Couples, Bernhard Langer and Retief Goosen, all World Golf Hall of Famers, were tied for the lead at 12-under. Goosen was first to bow out by running out of holes and tied for fourth. Langer was next to go when his tee shot at the par-3 17th got caught in the wind and drifted left and onto the lava. He eventually made a double-bogey there and bogeyed the 18th to fall to a tie for sixth.

Couples faltered on the first playoff hole when he missed a three-foot putt for par, leaving Jimenez and Els the last men standing.

RELATED: Ernie Els will give PGA Tour Champions a boost it needs, but will Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson do likewise?

Els, perhaps, came up one day short. Senior events — other than the senior majors — are 54-hole affairs and as such are more a sprint than a marathon. He nervously stumbled in his first round, shooting a 72, which put him eight shots back of the lead.

“From the first day it was pretty disappointing,” Els said. “I was almost last in the field. Then I got myself back up and played some really good golf. Disappointing obviously. I would have loved to got it through, but I had a couple of chances, didn’t quite get the right speed or the right line.”

Els played his way into contention with consecutive 65s on the weekend to get into a playoff with Couples and the interloper, Jimenez, who is not in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Many would argue, however, that he is a Hall of Famer of some sorts, given his popularity and renown in golf circles as the most interesting man in the world.

Jimenez, who shot a final-round 68 for a 54-hole total of 14-under par 202, caught a huge break on the par-3 17th. His tee shot went left and bounded off the lava and back into a bunker from which he was able to save par.

“I was very, very lucky there,” he said.

The PGA Tour Champions was fortunate, too, to open its season with a show featuring a star-studded cast.

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Woody Austin (68) birdies last to take lead in Champions opener

KA’UPULEHI-KONA, Hawaii – Woody Austin scrambled for birdie on the par-4 18th Friday to take the lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship, while Ernie Els had the best round of the day to get into contention in his senior debut.

After the wind carried Austin’s drive far right, he hit a low 4-iron out of the rough to 12 feet to set up the closing birdie at windy Hualalai. He had a 4-under 68 to get to 11-under 133, a stroke ahead of Bernhard Langer.

Austin (68): ‘I’ve got to shore up the putter’

Austin (68): 'I've got to shore up the putter'

“I don’t think you’re supposed to have 4-iron in on the 18th hole, but I hit a beautiful little low little runner and gave myself a birdie putt that I made,” Austin said.

The 55-year-old Austin won the 2016 event for the second of his four senior titles. He also won four times on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve got to sharpen up the putter,” Austin said. “I three-putted three times in the two days, so I need to sharpen that up.”

Langer, tied for the first-round lead with Miguel Angel Jimenez, followed an opening 64 with a 70.

“It’s a much tougher wind for this course,” Langer said. “It was southwest, so it played almost the opposite. The par 5s are a lot harder today than yesterday. I reached all the par 5s yesterday. Today, I only reached one. Just a harder wind for some reason the way the holes lay out.”

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

The 62-year-old German star won the event in 2009, 2014 and 2017. He has 40 Champions victories.

Jimenez, the 2015 winner, had three front-nine bogeys in a 71 to fall into a tie for third with Fred Couples at 9 under. The 60-year-old Couples had a 68.

“If it’s this hard of a wind, someone could shoot 4 or 5 under and win,” Couples said. “If it’s calmer, it might take 6 or 7 under. It’s like that every year.”

Els followed a 72 with a 65 to get to 7 under. He birdied four of the first six holes and eagled the par-5 seventh. He bogeyed the par-4 ninth and added birdies on Nos. 12 and 13.

“I just felt a bit more comfortable,” said Els, the four-time major winner from South Africa who turned 50 in October. “Believe it or not, after all these years, I felt like a rookie yesterday and I felt a little out of place.”

Els (65): ‘Blessing to be out here … better learn quickly’

Els (65): 'Blessing to be out here ... better learn quickly'

He changed putters to try to get better roll.

“I left everything short and didn’t quite get it to the hole yesterday, so it was a little better,” Els said.

John Daly also was 7 under after a 68.

Davis Love III shot 66 after an opening 74 left him tied for last in the 38-player field.

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Si Woo Kim, following 87, WDs with back injury at American Express

Si Woo Kim’s stay in La Quinta was short. But it was adventurous.

Kim, 24, withdrew from the American Express on Thursday after shooting a 15-over 87 in Round 1 at the Nicklaus Course. It was a score that garnered its share of glances; the former Bob Hope Classic annually boasts one of the easier set-ups on the PGA Tour, and Thursday’s action lived up to the billing as 48 players shot 68 or better.

Kim’s round was nine shots higher than the nearest competitor on the day. A round that included a quadruple bogey, three triples and a double, with Kim making the turn in 46 strokes.

So what happened? Kim’s back injury, which has troubled him throughout his career, apparently resurfaced. After turning in his card Kim pulled out of the event, citing the aforementioned woes.

Since winning the Players Championship in 2017, the South Korean has dropped from No. 28 in the world rankings to his current position of No. 107. Kim has especially struggled over the past eight months, missing the cut in nine of his last 13 starts last season and just one top 30 finish in eight appearances this campaign.

Though it was Kim’s eighth WD in just 139 starts on Tour, it was his first since the 2017 PGA Championship.

Kim was not the lone WD. Nate Lashley (77), citing a wrist issue, also bowed out.


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Seung-Yul Noh returns to Tour after two years of military service in South Korea

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Seung-Yul Noh returns to the PGA Tour this week at The American Express following two years of mandatory military service in South Korea.

“It’s exciting because I feel like I just started as a pro (when he began his military service). Getting to see a lot of friends on Tour, it’s just exciting right now,” said Noh, who played twice on the Korean Tour last fall to prepare for his return.

Noh last played a Tour event in October 2017 and is playing this season on a major medical extension with 26 starts to earn 359 FedExCup points and retain his Tour card.

The American Express: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Noh said he was able to stay at home in Seoul during his two years of service and spent his days training with the military. “I did everything, winter training, summer training, shooting training, walking all day,” Noh said.

Each day after training he would go to either the practice range or the gym in order to be prepared for when he was able to return to the Tour.

Sangmoon Bae returned from his two years of military service in South Korea in 2018 and failed to keep his Tour card, but Noh is confident his extracurricular work the last two years will give him an opportunity to pick up where he left off.

“The swing feels pretty good, and the body is definitely getting better,” he said. “When I hit the ball on the range or during the practice rounds the swing feels pretty good. I know how to control the ball, but for two years I was mostly on the range and not the course, so it feels different but it’s getting close.”

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Sergio Garcia spotted with Ping clubs; Callaway confirms split with former Masters champ

Sergio Garcia is making his 2020 debut this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. And he will be doing so with new sticks in tow.

Photos from an event associated with the European Tour stop show Garcia without Callaway clubs in his bag, instead brandishing a set of Ping irons and wedges and a TaylorMade fairway headcover. In a statement to Golf Digest, Callaway said that it has split with the 2017 Masters champ.

“We can confirm Callaway did not renew its agreement with Sergio Garcia for the 2020 season,” a Callaway spokesperson said. “We parted on great terms and the option for Sergio to carry Callaway equipment in the future remains.”

Following a 15-year run with TaylorMade that culminated in the Spaniard winning his first major, Garcia signed a deal in 2018 to play Callaway woods, irons and wedges, the company’s Chrome Soft balls and an Odyssey putter. The results from this time frame were mixed. Garcia won three international tournaments in the past two years, but missed the cut in six of eight major appearances and struggled on the PGA Tour, failing to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2018 and not advancing past the Northern Trust last season.

There was also a 2019 incident in Saudi Arabia where Garcia had an emotional outburst in a bunker, and more controversy at the WGC-Match Play involving a non-concession in a tilt against Matt Kuchar.

As for Garcia’s new clubs, Ping confirmed to Golf Digest that Garcia reached out to the company for equipment help. Some of the clubs Garcia will be using this week are the Ping Blueprint irons, Glide 3.0 wedges and an Anser-style putter.

There is at this moment, however, no Ping deal in place, according to Ping.


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