Golfers family gather for Ballesteros funeral

By Associated PressMay 11, 2011, 8:19 pm
PEDRENA, Spain – To the mournful wail of a lone bagpipe, some of Europe’s greatest golfers joined family, friends and local residents Wednesday at the funeral of Seve Ballesteros, paying an emotional final tribute to the dynamic Spaniard who revived the European game.

Ryder Cup captains Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal and players including Miguel Angel Jimenez marched together in silence as part of the procession from Ballesteros’ family home to the church of San Pedro de Pedrena.

Young boys and girls wore replicas of the navy blue outfit that Ballesteros wore for his first British Open win in 1979. They each held a 3-iron, the only club Ballesteros owned when he learned to play golf.

About 400 people packed the church to provide Ballesteros with one final send-off before his ashes were spread under a magnolia tree at the family home in this tiny fishing village in northern Spain.

Ballesteros, a five-time major winner and Ryder Cup stalwart, died Saturday at age 54 from complications of a cancerous brain tumor.

“He was so young and such a great man. A great champion – the best Europe ever had,” Torrance said.

Ballesteros’ oldest son, Javier, carried the urn holding the Spanish golf great’s ashes at the front of the procession, with the somber notes of a single bagpipe punctuating the occasion on an overcast day in the village off the Bay of Santander.

The crowd of up to 1,000 gathered outside the church burst into applause as Ballesteros’ ashes reached the church. Locals, friends and others watched from one of the three giant screens set up outside.

“With hard work he went from nothing to everything, realizing his dream to be the best and to be in the heart of the people,” said nephew Ivan Ballesteros, who was flanked by the golfer’s sons Javier and Miguel on the church altar. “In the end he decided when and where it ended. Rest my friend, rest Seve.”

Relatives inside the church wept and embraced, and so did friends and Pedrena residents watching outside after applauding heartily.

“It’s not a goodbye – we know you’ll always be here by our side,” Ballesteros’ son Miguel said.

Ballesteros’ brother Vicente picked up the urn – which had been set above two golf clubs and a golf ball at the foot of the altar – and carried it out of the church back to the family home, where a private family ceremony was held before the ashes were placed under the magnolia tree overlooking the nearby Real Club de Golf Pedrena course where his career began.

“We all wanted to be here to support Seve and wish him the best. We loved him, he was great,” Faldo said. “It’s a sad time, we lost someone very special. European golf owes Seve a great debt. He was the best frontman we could have ever dreamed of.”

Woosnam said Ballesteros did for European golf what Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus did for the American tour. The Spaniard won a record 50 European Tour victories and led Europe to victories in the Ryder Cup both as a player and captain.

His British Open victory at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s in 1979 was only the second for a European player in 28 years and first from the continent since 1907. The hot-tempered Spaniard with a flair for theatrics went on to win the Open again in 1984 and ’88 and the Masters in ’80 and ’83 .

“He put Europe on the map going traveling around the world,” said Woosnam, a fellow Masters champion. “The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest events in the world and that’s thanks to Seve.”

Ballesteros will be remembered not just for the many victories but also the manner in which he achieved them, with daring and courageous shot-making. Faldo said Ballesteros’ 3-wood that helped him halve the final hole at the 1983 Ryder Cup was the greatest shot he’d witnessed.

Coming from a humble background, Ballesteros learned to play golf using only a 3-iron, part of the reason he was inventive in coming up with shots most other players couldn’t imagine.

“I’m so pleased everyone’s all talking about 3-iron because that’s how he started golf,” Faldo said. “I think the 3-iron has to live on. He wanted to give the world a bunker lesson.”

Faldo, Woosnam and Montgomerie said they all hoped the European Tour would consider suggestions to change the tour’s logo to encompass the iconic image of Ballesteros pumping his fist after sinking the putt that clinched the 1984 Open at St. Andrews.

“We will look at it nice and calmly, and if we do consider any single player’s image at the moment it would be Seve’s,” European Tour chief executive George O’Grady said.

Ballesteros had 87 tournament victories in his career and won 22 1/2 points from 37 matches in eight Ryder Cups. He captained Europe to victory on home soil at Valderrama in 1987.

Homages to Ballesteros were found all along the procession route, mostly in the form of Spanish flags with black ribbons tied to them. Photos and messages of support were also on show in the town of nearly 1,500,

“His roots were here in Pedrena, he never forgot that,” said Asuncion Sota, a cousin of Ballesteros’. “Seve may have passed but his soul lives on here forever.”

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.