Champions Tour on Couples Horizon

By Associated PressMay 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- If his bad back and his game hold up for another 3 1/2 years, Fred Couples will confront the same decision faced by many other elite golfers.
 
Dominate on the Champions Tour? Or take your chances against the new wave of young players on the higher profile PGA TOUR?
 
Couples has some time to decide. He doesn't turn 50 until Oct. 3, 2009, thus becoming eligible for the older circuit. But he's already given a lot of thought to it.
 
'If I could play well on the senior tour, possibly playing well and being in the last group (in the final round), that's what I would rather do,' Couples said Wednesday, a day before teeing it up in the opening round of the Memorial Tournament.
 
Couples won the 1992 Masters and tied for third this year after battling playing partner and eventual winner Phil Mickelson in the final round. With 15 career victories, he has made more than $19 million on tour -- not counting the swag from his numerous big paydays in those made-for-TV Skins Games.
 
He doesn't appear to be slipping into the background, with almost $750,000 banked this year in nine tournaments. Couples still stands No. 21 in the world rankings and is considered one of the top contenders in almost every event he enters.
 
Jay Haas has covered much the same territory as Couples, one of his best friends. With a dependable, steady swing, he continues to straddle the two tours. He has won his last three starts on the Champions Tour, including his first major championship in Sunday's Senior PGA Championship.
 
'Last week was the highlight of my career,' he said of his playoff victory over Brad Bryant, which came in his 90th start in a major championship. 'I know that people say it's just a Champions Tour major and everything, but it's where I am now and I don't feel it's any less of an accomplishment.'
 
On the PGA TOUR, Haas has made $63,000 in four starts. Making his 29th appearance at the Memorial, he's only missed the cut twice. And he's already looking ahead to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open.
 
Haas, 52, loves that he can pick and choose where and when he plays. One week he's paired with icons such as Ray Floyd and Hale Irwin, who were established stars when he first turned pro way back in 1976, and the next week he's matching strokes with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
For some stars, it's ego-deflating to move on to the Champions Tour -- all but conceding that their best days are over.
 
But within the next four years, among the others eligible to join Couples on the older tour include Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Jones, Tom Lehman, Mark O'Meara, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry, Nick Price, Hal Sutton, Bob Tway, John Cook and Nick Faldo.
 
That's not bad company.
 
Haas has some advice for Couples and those others.
 
'I've contended every so often (on the regular tour) but not as much as I have on the Champions Tour so far,' Haas said. 'And that's fun. When Fred comes out, he will absolutely love it and he will do great just like he's done out here (on the regular tour).'
 
For his part, Couples says he just wants it to mean something when he plays.
 
'I have no intentions of coming to the Memorial as a mediocre player and trying to make the cut and finish 60th when I could be in contention somewhere else,' he said. 'Jay has won three or four in a row. That's what I would love to do.'
 
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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.