That guy back in the hunt at PGA Championship

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2010, 5:30 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – For two months running now, Dustin Johnson has been “that guy.”

The guy who took a three-shot lead into the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June and gave it all back on the second hole he played that day. The guy who proceeded to shoot himself all the way out of contention with a double-bogey on the hole after that. The same guy everyone thought was on the cusp of superstardom and would need months to get over the setback.

So guess what?

That guy is back on the leaderboard at the PGA Championship. And instead of having nightmares, he’s giving them.

“Dwelling on it can’t help anything,” said Johnson, a man of very few words. “I’ve got this tournament to think about and I always try to focus on what I’m doing at the moment – not what I did in the past.”

Johnson is known as one of the biggest hitters on the tour, but at Whistling Straits, he’s been longer than long. In Friday’s second round, Johnson hit driver at the 355-yard, par-4 sixth and airmailed it over the back of the green, nearly conking Chad Campbell and Ross Fisher, who were playing in the group ahead and loitering in what they assumed was safe territory.

“Welcome to my world,” said Johnson’s caddie, Bobby Brown. “I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”

Johnson, who should be used to that kind of thing by now, added sheepishly, “I didn’t expect to hit to that far.”

But as Brown suggested, that’s not entirely true.

On the preceding hole, the 598-yard, par-5 fifth, Johnson cut off the dogleg and had 149 yards left—a pitching wedge for him – and made eagle. No surprise. A day earlier, Johnson left himself a sand wedge.

At the 221-yard, par-3 seventh, Johnson hit 8-iron and drilled that over that green, too.

“It’s straight downwind, so it’s tough to judge,” he explained. “I mean, it’s really tough to stand back there at 218 or whatever it was to the hole, and say it’s a 9-iron.”

Length is one reason top players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been touting Johnson for years, but hardly the only one. The long ball grabs everyone’s attention, but his short game was good enough, even in college, that he ranked near the top in saving shots around the green for two years in a row.

In fact, Johnson has an advanced degree in the subject.

“I’ve always had pretty good hands. I play with Phil a lot,” Johnson said about practice rounds with Mickelson, often for serious stakes. “If you don’t get up and down, you’re reaching for your wallet.”

Plus, the 26-year-old is so low-key, even stuck in the scariest places on the toughest courses, that the temptation is to check him for a pulse. Johnson has won three times since his rookie season in 2008, including the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the last two years – which may be why his collapse at the U.S. Open caught so many people by surprise.

He’s got the makeup of a major champion, lacking only a trophy to prove it.

“This week, I’m just looking for – I’m not looking ahead until Sunday. All I can do is focus on tomorrow and get ready as best I can,” he said.

Johnson is one of those guys who doesn’t like to talk about unfinished business, even to those who know him best. He’s in the running for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but good luck getting him to acknowledge something beyond, “My golf will take care of that.”

Brown knows better.

He knows Johnson is that way about almost everything, so he cautions against assuming that just because you don’t see the fire in his eyes, the pilot light is flickering on low.

“He’s got a lot to play for this weekend, whether he says so or not,” Brown said. “But we haven’t even talked about it, honestly. He never said two words about it when he played a practice round with Corey (Pavin, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain) and he was invited to that (team) barbecue the other night

“All he said,” the caddie added, shaking his head, “is that they had great food.”

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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.