Humble Major Champs Grouped Together at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Zach Johnson is the everyday guy from Iowa. Angel Cabrera is the burly underdog from Argentina. Padraig Harrington is the self-proclaimed journeyman from Ireland.
They will be together this week at the PGA Championship because of something else they are: golf's three most recent major champions.
A year ago, the three players wouldn't have turned a head had they been grouped together for the first two rounds of the last major of the year.
But so much changes once a player finally puts on a green jacket, or holds the claret jug or endures and wins a U.S. Open.
'A complete honor is what it comes down to,' Johnson said Tuesday. 'I know people back home, especially when they hear me announced -- from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2007 Masters champion -- they take it to heart. They take pride in it.
Johnson says he takes pride in it, too, just not too much.
'I don't want to get too proud,' he said.
The aw-shucks modesty is something that runs through all three of golf's newest major champions. These victories, they insist, might have changed their circumstances, but not who they are.
'I'm not changing,' Johnson said. 'I'm still in jeans and T-shirts and shorts, whatever.'
Cabrera's victory was considered a huge thing for Argentina, a country that hadn't celebrated a major golf champion in 40 years previous to his win at Oakmont.
Could the win have helped golf surpass rugby or basketball in popularity in the near future?
'No. No chance,' Cabrera said, answering before his translator even had a chance to give him the question.
Cabrera, known as 'El Pato' or 'The Duck' because of his trademark waddles down the fairway, often with a cigarette in hand, knows his win emphasized the importance of giving back in the golf community in his country.
Not glamorous, but necessary, said the one-time caddie, who turned to golf because he thought it was the best way to help support his family.
'It's very difficult for Argentinean golfers to achieve good things, to get to the PGA TOUR or the European tour without the help of another professional golfer,' Cabrera said. 'There's not much help other than what another golfer can provide.'
For Harrington, the magnitude of the victory three weeks ago is still settling in.
Last week at the first teebox at Firestone, they didn't introduce him as 'Padraig Harrington, British Open champion.'
'I looked at my caddie and started laughing,' he said. 'You win the Open Championship, you can't wait to be announced as the Open champion. I wasn't disappointed. It's just strange. It's a hard one to describe.'
At 35 and ranked sixth in the world, he was among those considered the Best Player Never to Have Won A Major. He no longer has to deal with that. Also avoided is the heartache he would have felt had he lost the British Open with that ugly double-bogey on No. 18.
'There's no question that when you win, you've got to enjoy it but always taper it with a bit of `what if' and the alternative,' Harrington said. That way, 'You'll always be able to handle the bad days well.'
None of the three will be overlooked this week, though all would have to be considered underdogs to the guy who won this event last year.
Tiger Woods.
'We're all improving. We're all getting better,' Woods said when asked if he was surprised to see three first-time winners in majors this year, the second time it's happened in the last five years. 'The fields are getting deeper on top of that. So it makes it even more challenging to try to win major championships.
'We're seeing new faces that are springing up and this year is an example of that.'
The newest champions are not stars or household names. It figures they still won't draw near the crowd Woods will when he tees off Thursday, playing alongside Bob Tway and Rich Beem.
But Johnson, Cabrera and Harrington will be together for a reason.
'Just to be in that fraternity and have that title, more or less at least for this year, is very, very special,' Johnson said.
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  • 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.

    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.