Americans Near Perfect on Day 1

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Phil Mickelson pulled Woody Austin into his arms to celebrate another clutch putt from the 43-year-old rookie in the Presidents Cup, then they walked to the edge of the 18th green to see if it would be good enough for another American victory Thursday.
 
Mike Weir had chipped to 3 1/2 feet, certainly no gimme for his partner Vijay Singh.
 
The Canadian crowd that had cheered so wildly for Weir and the International team grew silent, enough for Mickelson to hear that familiar high-pitched tone of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus.
 
What do you want to do with (his) putt? Nicklaus asked.
 
Mickelson understood the question to be a directive, and he didnt hesitate to concede the putt and halve the match.
 
It was the most poignant moment Thursday at Royal Montreal, a day filled with gray skies and American red numbers on the scoreboard. The concession assured the International team a half-point, and it turned out to be the only thing it earned in the biggest opening-session rout in seven years at the Presidents Cup.
 
With clutch play from rookies Austin and Lucas Glover, and solid play from Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the Americans won 51/2 points in the six alternate-shot matches to seize early control of these matches.
 
Our guys were sensational today, Nicklaus said. They finished the matches. They played great. And Im happy that Mike Weir from Canada got on the board.
 
Nicklaus made sure of that, although Mickelson believes Singh would have made the putt.
 
It was typical coming from Nicklaus, who conceded a putt about the same length to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup that allowed those matches to end in a draw. That gesture became a symbol of sportsmanship in matches between countries and continents.
 
Captain Nicklaus was right. It was the right thing to do, Mickelson said after he and Austin rallied from 3 down over the final seven holes in a match in which only six holes were halved. It was a hard-fought battle. There didnt need to be a winner or a loser.
 
Then again, this was only Thursday. And it was clear the Americans were in charge.
 
It was the biggest blowout in the opening session since the United States won all five matches in 2000 on its way to the most lopsided victory in the short history of the Presidents Cup.
 
Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan made a birdie on the first hole of the opening match and never trailed on their way to the easiest victory of the round, 3 and 2, over Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy. Woods and Charles Howell III were in the last match, the only other one that did not go the distance. Howell redeemed himself from an awful tee shot with a 15-foot par, and Woods closed out the 3-and-1 victory over K.J. Choi and Nick OHern with a tee shot to 3 feet on the 17th.
 
Weve seen this board the last two Ryder Cups, Woods said of the lopsided margin. On the European side.
 
The difference came from the matches in between.
 
All of them went to the 18th green with the International team poised to win two of them and halve the other two. Instead, the United States won three of those matches to seize control, and International captain Gary Player blamed it on poor decisions.
 
Weve seen a lot of majors in the last few years lost on the last hole by the incorrect decision, Player said.
 
The best decision came from Nicklaus.
 
Weir and Singh won five out of seven holes to built a 3-up lead, only to see the Americans run off three straight birdies. In position for a fourth straight birdie, Singh holed out from the bunker on the 15th for a 1-up lead, and Mickelson answered two holes later by pouring in a 15-foot birdie that set up the final hole.
 
Austin pulled his approach into a bunker. Singh leaked his right of the green. Mickelson blasted out to 12 feet, and Austin made his third big putt on the back nine, shoving his fist toward the hole and clasping fists with Lefty.
 
Then came the concession.
 
It doesnt surprise me with Jack or Gary, Weir said. They do the right thing, and they have for their whole career. Id like to think that if it was role reversal there, we would have done the same thing.
 
The other tight matches were a disaster for the International side.
 
Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera, after getting run over early by Jim Furyk and David Toms, won two straight holes and had all the momentum on their side when Els made a 15-foot par putt to stay 1 down on the 16th. It looked even better when Furyk hit his tee shot into the water, and the best the Americans could do on the 18th was a bogey.
 
From in front of a lip in the bunker, Els played a fade to the front of the green, and Cabrera lagged the long putt to 4 feet. Mickelson playfully told Nicklaus behind the green not to concede that putt, and it was a good thing. The Big Easy missed, giving the Americans a point.
 
Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman were tied with Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink playing the 18th, and they made it easy on the Americans when Sabbatini hit his tee shot into the water. Johnson played a bunker shot to 2 feet for a conceded par, and another point.
 
Player said Sabbatini should have hit 3-wood off the tee, and said he spoke to him after the match.
 
I dont like to interfere with my players at all, Player said. He said, It was in my mind and I just made the wrong decision. When you have four matches go to the last hole, that split decision is vitally important.
 
Then there was Retief Goosen and Stuart Appleby, also tried to squeeze out a half-point with a win on the 18th hole. Appleby, however, pulled his approach so badly that it took 15 minutes to get a ruling, and Goosens best option was to take a penalty stroke and hit their third shot over a row of corporate chalets. Lucas Glover and Scott Verplank made a par from the bunker for a 2-up victory.
 
Six better-ball matches are scheduled for Friday, and the International team cant afford to fall further behind.
 
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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 GolfChannel.com 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.