A Couple Masters Unknowns Answering the Call

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brett Wetterich has friends in low places, the kind who call at 1:30 in the morning even when their buddy has an important tee time in just a few hours.
Might be time to turn the cell phone off.
He has plenty to worry about without those kind of distractions.
Wetterich and Tim Clark, last year's surprise runner-up, are co-leaders halfway through the Masters at 2 under par.
Wetterich got his share of the lead by shooting 1-over 73 on Friday, and he did it even though he may have been a bit tired for his 8:55 a.m. start.
You see, his phone rang a little late the night before.
'I'm the type of person that gets phone calls like that every now and then,' he explained. 'My buddies forget that I'm playing the Masters and I have to get up at 5:30.'
Several years ago, the golf world thought so little of Wetterich that he could only get a scholarship from Wallace State Community College. He was a late bloomer who started making a name for himself with his win at the Byron Nelson Classic last year. That helped land him on the Ryder Cup team for the Americans, and we all know what happened there.
'It took me a while to progress, and every year I kind of got a little better and better,' Wetterich said. 'And here I am now.'
Wetterich has put the losing experience at the Ryder Cup behind him. And for his first Masters, he has put his typical go-for-broke strategy on hold.
'I definitely am playing a little less aggressively than I normally play, for sure,' Wetterich said. 'I'm trying to make as many pars as I can. That's usually not my style of game.'
He laid up on the par-3 15th hole, even though he could have tried to clear the creek for an eagle try. In all, he's 2 over on the par 5s this week, usually a formula for defeat at Augusta National.
But the formula is being turned on its head a bit. Only three players survived the first two rounds below par, and they did it by playing more like this is a U.S. Open than the Masters.
Though the weekend brings different pressures, Wetterich has shown he can hold it together under stress.
Midway through the round, he became the first -- and still only -- player to reach 4 under for the tournament. Then he got to 15 and 16 and made back-to-back three-putts. He drained an 8-footer on No. 17 to avoid a third straight and keep himself in the lead.
'That kind of stopped my bleeding,' he said. 'Having three three-putts in a row -- that's not a good thing.'
Meanwhile, very few were picking Clark to be ahead of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at this point in the Masters. Maybe they should have.
Last year, it was the South Africa native, a three-time winner in Europe who has yet to break through on the PGA Tour, who ended up second to Mickelson. A bunch of better-known names -- Woods, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal -- were in the hunt that day. Clark beat them all.
Maybe the biggest surprise there is that Clark doesn't think his game suits the course.
'I'm not going to let that get in the way of me playing well,' he said. 'I've dreamed of coming here and playing this tournament as a child, and I'm here now, and I'm going to make the most of it.'
Among the hurdles he overcame Friday was a double bogey on No. 5 after hitting up against a tree on his drive. There was also the distraction of playing with Larry Mize and Troy Matteson, who combined to shoot 31 over for the first two days.
'I find here you really get into your own game and not worry about what others are doing,' Clark said.
Putting distractions out of mind figures to be key for both players, at least on Saturday, when they'll be the last ones out.
Clark knows the drill. He played with Woods on Sunday last year, shot a 69 and finished one spot ahead of the best and most popular player in the world.
He also learned a lot that day.
'He didn't get off to the greatest of starts but he felt like he was in the tournament going into the back nine,' Clark said. 'I think that's what you have to do. You have to know that no matter what happens to you there, you can still get yourself back into the tournament and it's never really over.'
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  • 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.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.