Americans lead after delayed opening fourballs

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2010, 12:55 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – There’s a surprising candidate for Ryder Cup rookie of the match. Heck, Jeff Overton might just be MVP if the Americans manage to hold on to the Ryder Cup.

Overton made his pairing with fellow rookie Bubba Watson look like a stroke of brilliance, rolling in one putt after another to lead the Americans to an early edge at a rain-delayed Ryder Cup that turned sunny on Saturday.

Tiger Woods also won – with a big hand from Steve Stricker, whose brilliant touch with a wedge at No. 18 clinched another U.S. point and kept them unbeaten as partners.

The Americans held a 2 1/2 -1 1/2 lead after the morning fourballs, which finished nearly 24 hours behind schedule because of Friday’s torrential rains at Celtic Manor. The teams faced a busy weekend with a mishmash of a schedule that officials rigged up in hopes of avoiding the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history.

The tenuous lead boded well for the visiting team, which is trying to retain the Cup after winning at Valhalla two years ago to break Europe’s dominance in the series.

Only twice since the current U.S.-vs.-Europe format began in 1979 has a team that won the opening session gone on to lose.

Overton and Watson – but mainly Overton – provided the first full point for the Americans with a 3-and-2 win over the heavily favored team of Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

Having calmed his nerves by rolling in a long putt from behind the bunker at the first hole Friday, Overton ripped off four straight birdies over two days beginning at No. 9 to push the Americans out to a 3-up lead. He drove the green at the 15th, a short par-4, for a birdie that protected the advantage, and finished off the match with a conceded par at 16.

“It’s pretty awesome out here,” Overton said.

U.S. captain Corey Pavin raised plenty of eyebrows when he sent out the two rookies to anchor the opening session. But it sure paid off, especially after the powerhouse duo of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson was beaten 3-and-2 by Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in the leadoff match.

The Northern Irish team of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy roared back from two holes down with six to play, halving the match with Americans Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.

Overton and Watson appeared to be having a grand ol’ time, and Pavin kept them together for the second session: six alternate-shot matches that began just 12 minutes after the first session ended.

Asked if he wanted Overton as a partner, the freewheeling Watson quipped, “I don’t even like him. He’s ugly.”

The Indiana native looked beautiful on the green, making enough big putts to hand Donald his first Ryder Cup loss in team play.

“His putter got hot this morning,” Watson said. “Now I love him as a partner.”

Donald came in with a 4-0-1 record in fourball and alternate-shot, but he was basically a one-man team playing with Harrington, who was taken with a captain’s pick over Paul Casey and Justin Rose, the more successful players this year. The Irishman hasn’t won a sanctioned tournament since the last of his major titles, the 2008 PGA Championship, and he left captain Colin Montgomerie open to criticism by failing to produce even one birdie over 16 holes in his opening round.

But the 21-year-old McIlroy gave the Europeans a big boost, including a 35-foot birdie putt at the 17th to square his match.

The youngster was of no help at the par-5 final hole, knocking two balls in the water after he went for the green in two. Cink tried the same thing – and wound up with the same result: two balls in the drink – so the match came down to Kuchar vs. McDowell.

“I’ve got you covered,” McDowell told his partner. “It’s all right.”

The U.S. Open winner cut it close, his third shot hitting the green and spinning back toward the water before stopping at the fringe. Kuchar missed a 15-footer for the win, but par was good enough to equal McDowell and give each team something to smile about.

“We’re just happy to steal a half-point from that because we looked to be in trouble,” McDowell said.

Cink did most of the heavy lifting for the Americans, using a hot putter to make five of their six birdies, but Kuchar’s safer play at the end ensured they didn’t lose.

“I finally got my chance help out this team,” he said. “I only helped out on like two holes. That was not an easy putt at all. It had a big break and a lot of speed going down there. It just came up a couple of revolutions short.”

Mickelson and Johnson appeared to have the momentum in their match when play was called Friday evening, having cut the deficit from three holes to one. But they couldn’t do anything right Saturday, the match with Westwood and Kaymer ending at No. 16, where Johnson flew the green with a wedge and Mickelson missed a 10-footer for par to extend the match.

“It’s always nice to get that first point on the board,” Westwood said.

The early European lead didn’t hold up.

Woods, playing third rather than his usual leadoff or anchor roles, remained unbeaten in his partnership with Stricker.Player Name: First | Lastnts Cup they won all four of their matches, the first team in 30 years to do that in a major team competition.

Stricker brought ‘em home this time, coming through with four birdies on the back side to hold off Poulter and Fisher for a 2-up win. Woods flew his second shot at No. 18 far left of the green, then flubbed his chip. But Stricker, who had laid up short of the water, came up within 6 feet of the cup from 86 yards with his third swing. When Poulter and Fisher both missed longer birdie tries, they conceded Stricker his putt and the match.

Mixed in among the mostly European crowd were a couple of fans wearing cheeseheads, supporting the 43-year-old from Wisconsin.

“The atmosphere here is unbelievable,” Stricker said. “Pro Europe, of course, but it’s still great to be a part of it.”

Neither Pavin nor European captain Colin Montgomerie had any more decisions to make about who to play: all 24 players had to be on the course for the remaining sessions to have any chance of finishing on time.

The second session will be followed by the last two alternate-shot matches, plus four more fourballs. Even if the weather held – and it was warming up nicely after a bit of a chilly morning – the third session will likely have to be finished Sunday morning.

When that’s done, officials hope to have enough time to get in the 12 singles matches. But there was more rain in the forecast, and any further delays will surely result in a Monday finish.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.