Golf no longer has a set offseason

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2012, 4:26 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP)—The start of a new season doesn’t feel much differentfrom the old one.

Nine players—that’s one-third of the 27-man field at Kapalua—weretogether only a month ago at the Chevron World Challenge. A week later, eightplayers were in Florida for the Shark Shootout. They went home for the holidays,then packed their clubs and flew across the Pacific Ocean for the Tournament ofChampions for the 2012 season.

The offseason in golf isn’t what it used to be.

When this winners-only tournament first came to Kapalua in 1999, thelandscape in golf was different. The Tour Championship ended the first week inNovember, and the majority of players disappeared until the start of the newyear. The elite would only play in the silly season at events like the SkinsGame or the Shark Shootout. Some chased appearance money in Asia.

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David Toms was supposed to be at the Chevron World Challenge last month,part of an 18-man field playing for $5 million. He withdrew at the last minute,saying he was tired and wanted some time with his family.

“I needed a break,” Toms said. “If I would have played there, I’d havehad only three weeks, and some of that was spent on holidays.”

Nowadays, the offseason is whenever a player feels he can take time off.

Padraig Harrington has never been to Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions.He takes this time of the year to refresh and recharge in Ireland. Rory McIlroy is doing the same thing. Luke Donald , the No. 1 player in the world, didn’tstart his 2011 season until the third week in February at Riviera. GraemeMcDowell tried to take a four-week break in February.

Toms showed that players can make their offseason as long as they want it tobe. Even so, he worries that such time is getting harder to find in a globalgame that relies so heavily on the world ranking.

“For guys that want to get in big tournaments, if they stop at Disney oreven before that, they can lose so many spots,” he said. “I’ve taken off threemonths and lost 20 spots in the ranking. And you’ve got big tournaments early inthe season when you need it. So you’re kind of forced to play.”

When he tied for third in the McGladrey Classic, his final tournament in2010, Toms was No. 62 in the world. He took off three months, returning at theBob Hope Classic, and had slipped all the way to No. 84. He did not get in theMatch Play Championship or the Cadillac Championship that year, missing twoplaying opportunities in World Golf Championships.

This year was a little different.

Toms chose to miss the biggest college football game of the year—Alabamaagainst his beloved LSU Tigers—and flew halfway around the world to China forthe HSBC Champions. He also played the Australian Open in the week before thePresidents Cup in Australia.

“I went to China trying to improve that ranking; I would never have goneover there,” he said. “I played in the Australian Open because there wereworld ranking points there. That’s stuff that I would never do. So what’s goingto happen now is I’ll play some, and then I’ll need some time off during ourseason instead of taking time off the other way.

“So you have options, but you don’t,” he said. “If you want to maintain acertain status, or a certain level, you’ve got to play.”

At some point, though, Toms needs a break.

So do the others.

Steve Stricker won the Match Play Championship at the start of the 2001season and took nearly two months off toward the end of the season, even to thepoint of risking his spot in the Tour Championship for the top 30 on the moneylist. He narrowly made it. Walking on the practice range one day at ChampionsGolf Club in Houston, Tiger Woods saw him and said, “Welcome back out ofretirement.”

It’s not much different now. Stricker took off nearly two months before thePresidents Cup. Part of that was to rest a weakened left arm, though he hadplanned only one tournament between the Tour Championship and Presidents Cupeven if he had been healthy.

“It’s tough to find the time,” Stricker said. “You can play all yearlong, but I think you’ve still got to find the time. You’ve got to still getaway, find the time where you can set the clubs down for a little while and getrefreshed and ready to go for another year. Because it’s a long year, andthere’s so many big things at the end of it all that you want to make sureyou’re fresh and still able to play at the end.”

Stricker is taking four weeks off when he finishes next week in the SonyOpen. He’ll return at Riviera.

As much grumbling as there is about the weak field at Kapalua, it’s aproduct of where players live, how they build a worldwide schedule and when theycan find time to take a break.

Donald played three times in December. McIlroy played five times over thelast two months. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is the defending championnext week in the Joburg Open in his native South Africa.

This is all new for Keegan Bradley , a rookie who figured his season wouldend quietly sometime in September. That was before he won the PGA Championship.Before long, he was off to Bermuda for the Grand Slam of Golf, then to China forthe HSBC Champions, and the Chevron and Shark Shootout.

But he’s not complaining. Plus, he’s young.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Bradley said. “It was fun. But you couldplay more in the offseason than you do in the regular season if you wanted to.”

So it’s the start of the new year for some, and it feels like a continuationof the old year for others. All of them will take a break at some point, andwhen they do, there will be tournaments that wished they were playing.

Then again, golfers have no guaranteed income from tournaments. They areself-employed, independent contractors.

That much hasn’t changed.

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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.