Big Guns Blazing Early

By Associated PressSeptember 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Tiger Woods gets another chance to set the tone for the Ryder Cup, this time with a new partner.
 
Woods and Jim Furyk, unbeaten in the three matches at the Presidents Cup, will be the first to tee off Friday morning in a fourball match against Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, Europe's toughest tandem in the last Ryder Cup.
 
Tom Lehman and Arnold Palmer
U.S. captain Tom Lehman chats with Arnold Palmer during Thursday's practice session.
'We have got two of Europe's best on the first day,' Woods said. 'Hopefully, we'll be able to get it started and get the momentum on our side going out early.'
 
That sure wasn't the case last time.
 
In a notorious start at Oakland Hills, Woods and Phil Mickelson played together for the first time. Montgomerie and Harrington birdied the first hole and never trailed, a 2-and-1 victory that gave Europe an emotional lift on it way to its largest victory ever, 18 1/2 -9 1/2 .
 
'The first point is important,' U.S. captain Tom Lehman said. 'You want to lead with your best.'
 
Mickelson also found a good partner at the Presidents Cup last year when he and Chris DiMarco were unbeaten in four matches. They will bring up the rear for the Americans in the opening session in what figured to be the most emotional match Friday. They will face Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, whose wife died of cancer five weeks ago.
 
'It's a big occasion for Darren tomorrow, and playing with one of his best friends,' European captain Ian Woosnam said. 'I think that's going to boost Darren right up.'
 
In between were a couple of mild surprises, with Lehman starting two of his four unheralded rookies.
 
J.J. Henry, who has played as well as anyone in the three days of practice at The K Club, will join Stewart Cink in the second fourball match against Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson. In the third game, David Toms and big-hitting Brett Wetterich will take on Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal.
 
Woods has lost seven consecutive matches on opening day at the Ryder Cup, dating to his debut match at Valderrama in 1997. He and Furyk come into this Ryder Cup on top of their games. Woods has won five of his last six tournaments and Furyk won the Canadian Open two weeks ago, although both lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship last week.
 
Montgomerie and Harrington, Ireland's best golfer, won both their matches at Oakland Hills without reaching the 18th hole.
 
'Monty always just seems to raise his game for this tournament,' Woosnam said. 'Obviously he stands on that first tee, he changes into a different person. ... He's got a fantastic record and not very often he gets beat.'
 
Montgomerie had said last time that beating Woods and Mickelson was worth two points because of the emotional lift. Woosnam believes a victory over Woods and Furyk would do the same.
 
'It's going to be a big boost for us if we can beat that pairing,' he said.
 
Lehman said he had his opening-session pairings in mind before arriving on Monday, and nothing he saw in practice changed his mind.
 
Woosnam, meanwhile, relied on his gut feeling watching his players this week. That much was obvious with his pairing of Casey and Karlsson. The original plan was for Karlsson to play with fellow Swedish rookie Henrik Stenson.
 
Casey won the HSBC World Match Play Championship last week, and Karlsson reached the semifinals.
 
'I decided last night on that pairing,' Woosnam said. 'And that's why they went out together today, to give them a chance to play together. They both hit the ball extremely long. They hit in the same club and hit the same shots into the green, and I think that's what made me go for that pairing.'
 
Another surprise was Garcia and Olazabal.
 
Woosnam said he hoped they could deliver the kind of magic Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros brought to Europe in the 1980s, when the 'Spanish Armada' produced the most successful tandem in Ryder Cup history.
 
Ballesteros was a mentor to Olazabal, however. Garcia has never been particularly close to either Spanish star.
 
'They both got this love of match play,' Woosnam said. 'Obviously, they might be talking Spanish all the way around.'
 
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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.