Couples looking to stay on hot streak

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2010, 5:10 am
Champions Tour

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – It didn’t take long for Fred Couples to adjust to the Champions Tour, though his quick assimilation surprised even him.

Couples will be seeking his third consecutive top 3 finish when The Toshiba Classic begins Friday at the Newport Beach Country Club.

He finished second to Tom Watson by a stroke in his tour debut at the Mitsubishi Electric Open, then came back and won the Ace Group Classic.

“I’ve gotten off to a great start,” Couples said. “To finish second to Tom Watson was a great week and then to win at Naples was a blessing to win my first Champions Tour event that fast.”

There was no indication Couples would struggle on the Champions Tour, but he hadn’t won a PGA Tour event since the 2003 Shell Houston Open, so the 50-year-old had his doubts.

“I had a great shot of winning my first one,” Couples said. “I’ve never had negative thoughts, but I thought, ‘God if I get in contention and I battle with some guy, I haven’t really won a tournament in a long time. I may not close the deal.”’

Winning certainly isn’t foreign to Couples, who has been on the PGA Tour since 1981 and has 15 tour victories, including the 1992 Masters. While some professionals play nearly exclusively on the Champions Tour when they become eligible, Couples is going to play a handful of events on the PGA Tour as well. So far this year on the PGA Tour he finished tied for 37th at the Northern Trust Open and tied for 14th at last week’s Phoenix Open.

“Even at 49 or 50 on the regular tour, my expectations are to play well,” Couples said. “Now am I going to win on the regular tour? You know I had a couple of chances last year.”

But Couples likes his chances better with his peers on the Champions Tour.

“I think I will win more, but my expectations are always to play well,” Couples said. “If that means getting around the course and finishing fifth and I felt like I played well, then I think that’s a good week.”

John Cook, who has won four times in three years on the Champions Tour, believes Couples will thrive.

“It’s great to have Fred out,” Cook said. “We would like to have him out as much as he feels like he wants to play. You know that when Fred is in the field he is the guy, the guy to beat.”

Couples is part of a needed injection of players eligible to play the Champions Tour. Corey Pavin, Tommy Armour III, Tom Lehman, Tom Pernice, Paul Azinger are all first-year players on the 50-and-over tour.

“The caliber of play coming out is obviously very good,” Cook said. “These guys have won a lot of tournaments and we have as well. It’s just going to get stronger and stronger.”

About the only element that could derail Couples is his historically finicky back. It has been an issue with Couples for many years and it actually delayed his Champions Tour debut.

“November, my back was gone,” Couples said. “At the end of last year I could have played at Houston and San Antonio after the President’s Cup, but I was playing no golf at that time. I didn’t want to go just go through the motions and be a guy in the tournament.”

If his health holds up however, Couples should be someone the other players will have to contend with for many years.

“There is no real mystery to Fred Couples,” Cook said. “He is very, very good. He has always been good.”

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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.