Grand Slam Still Alive - for Immelman

By Associated PressApril 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods can forget about the Grand Slam for another year. And dont even bother bringing it up to the only guy at the moment with a chance.
 
So, Trevor Immelman, think you can win the next three majors?
 
No, probably not, the South African replied, breaking into a toothy grin that blended quite nicely with that green jacket he was wearing Sunday evening.
 
Immelman could be forgiven for wanting to soak up his first major title before he worries about winning another. Besides, on a day when the wind howled and par was a good score at imposing Augusta National, even the newest Masters champion looked more relieved than joyous.
 
After tapping in at No. 18 to win with a closing 75'thats 3 over par' Immelman leaned over to retrieve his ball and wearily raised his arms. As victory celebrations go, this hardly compared to a defiant Woods fist pump or Phil Mickelson leaping joyously in the air.
 
The course was the real winner. Already facing a 7,445-yard behemoth and those devious greens, the worlds best players didnt stand a chance when gusts up to 30 mph shook the trees, rattled the flagsticks and played havoc with those little white balls.
 
Heck, Paul Casey lost a stroke standing over a putt. The Englishman was forced to call a penalty on himself when his ball rocked ever so slightly in the breeze whipping across the sixth green. He waved the white flag in the form of a 79. Steve Flesch hung on a little longer, going down for the count when he dunked his ball in Raes Creek at No. 12.
 
If you were looking for someone who best epitomized a final round that turned into an episode of Survivor, skip the guy wearing the green jacket. Look to Brandt Snedeker, bawling his eyes out after shooting 77 in the final group with Immelman.
 
It was just a rough day out there, the 27-year-old Tennessean said, sounding as though he has just listened to a tearjerker of a country song. You know, its hard to put that much effort into something and get so little out of it.
 
Not even Woods could mount the sort of back-nine charge that used to make this place so special on a Sunday afternoon.
 
Sure, he rolled in a 70-foot birdie putt at No. 11, the patrons erupting with a passion that was missing most of the week. It didnt last long. Woods missed a 5-footer at No. 13, took bogey at the next hole and that was it. When he did sink a birdie with his final stroke of the tournament, he simply waved his hand in disgust as if to say, Thanks for nothing.
 
I just didnt make any putts all week, Woods said. I hit the ball well enough to contend. I hit the ball definitely well enough to put pressure on Trevor back there, but I just didnt make any putts.
 
He regrets that confident assessment of his Grand Slam chances, which he described earlier this year as easily within reason. Sure, he finished second to Immelman, three strokes away from the winners 8-under 280, but there was no serious challenge from the guy with 13 major titles'none of them won from behind in the final round.
 
For 2008, Woods hopes of doing something grand are one and done. From now on, his lips are sealed.
 
I learned my lesson, he said. Im not going to say anything.
 
Immelmans final-round score was the highest for a winner since Arnold Palmer won with the same number in 1962. There was precious little drama, even when the leader inexplicably dumped his tee shot into the drink at No. 16 and took double-bogey.
 
He still went to the final two holes needing only to avoid a Van de Velde of a collapse, and those only happen once a lifetime. Immelman made an up-and-down par from the bunker at 17, then got safely down at the 18th despite driving into a massive divot in the middle of the fairway.
 
I didnt hear many roars out there, Immelman said. Its just so damn difficult.
 
Maybe the green jackets at Augusta National went a little overboard with their redesign a few years ago, which was called a Tiger proofing but has basically turned this into an U.S. Open wannabe. Forget about shooting 31 on the back side to win, as Jack Nicklaus did in 1986. Now, its just a matter of who makes the most pars and avoids the calamitous mistake.
 
While the tournament itself provided few compelling storylines, Immelmans journey to the major championship club was a rather interesting one.
 
He fell in love with golf at an early age, and his parents gave liberally of their time and resources to make sure the boys obvious talent was nurtured. The icon of South African golf, three-time Masters champion Gary Player, took an interest as the youngster was coming up through the ranks, telling anyone who would listen that this kid had the purest swing since Ben Hogan.
 
Player stuck to his guns, even when criticized for taking Immelman with a questionable captains pick for the 2005 Presidents Cup. The two played a practice round at Augusta, and Player called with encouraging words when Immelman went to the final round with a two-stroke lead.
 
Take your time, Player said in a voice mail message that his protegee got late Saturday. Keep your eyes on the ball an extra second on the putts. There will be bad breaks, but I know youre going to win.
 
Aside from Players rah-rahs, Immelman didnt look like much of a contender when he got to Augusta. He had a good excuse, though.
 
Back in December, shortly after winning a tournament in his native country, he had trouble breathing and felt a severe pain in his ribcage. He went to see his doctor, who noticed a tumor on his diaphragm. He waited five frightening days to undergo surgery'it was a holiday weekend in South Africa'but the growth turned out to be benign.
 
He was left with a 7-inch scar across his lower back and a game that needed a lot of work. He missed the cut in half of his first eight events this year, and hadnt finished higher than 40th in stroke play on those rare times he make the weekend.
 
This has probably been the ultimate roller-coaster ride, and I hate roller coasters, Immelman said. Here I am after missing the cut last week, and Im the Masters champion. Its the craziest thing Ive ever heard of.
 
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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.