The kids showing the grown-ups how its done

By Associated PressApril 9, 2011, 4:02 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – They talk about cars and boats when they’re out on the course, not golf. They exchange fist bumps as well as handshakes. Their idea of Masters history is 1997.

Rory McIlroy and Jason Day will be playing together in the final pairing Saturday after rounds that would impress, or scare, any of their elders. Fellow 20-something Rickie Fowler isn’t far behind, and his colorful outfits – some might call them tacky – aren’t the only reason he won’t be overlooked.

They’re young, brash and, boy, are they good.

Ready or not, golf’s next generation is banging on the door.

“I think the future is in good hands in the game of golf,” McIlroy said. “Rickie has just turned 22, I’m 21, Jason is 23. We’re in the very early stages of our careers, and to be challenging in major championships already, it’s a huge step in the right direction, and hopefully we can only get better.”

For years, all the talk in golf centered on Tiger Woods, his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and whether there was anyone of his generation who could get in his way.

Turns out, all golf had to do was turn the calendar ahead a few years.

“It’s good to see these guys out here playing with that much enthusiasm and that much zest for the game,” Woods said. “That generation is going to be a fun one to watch and see how it matures over the next 10, 15 years.”

McIlroy is clearly the leader of golf’s Brat Pack. He turned pro in 2007, earned his European Tour card without going to Q-School and broke into the top 10 in the world all before he turned 21. He tied a major championship record by opening with a 63 at St. Andrews in last year’s British Open, and has tied for third at three of the past five majors, including the past two.

He’s clearly learned a thing or two since St. Andrews, when he blew up with an 80 in the second round. He went 29 holes before making a bogey at Augusta National, and followed up his 65 on Thursday with a 69 on Friday.

But, as Friday’s pairing showed, he’s got plenty of company. Day piled up one birdie after another on his way to the round of the day, a bogey-free 64. He played so smoothly that no one realized how good his score was, including him. Fowler ground through his round, a 69 that could easily have been four or five strokes better.

“We had fun out there, chatting it up a bit up the fairways and when we had some downtime,” Fowler said. “Other than that, we are trying to hit it inside and make more birdies than the other guy.”

That’s what makes the kids so much fun to watch.

Phenoms on the course, they’re refreshingly normal off it. Fowler and Bubba Watson spent their downtime during the PGA Championship last year at a local ice cream shop. In addition to the traditional handshake on the 18th green, Day grasped McIlroy’s fist and pulled him close, a move more often seen at NBA games. McIlroy has been unwinding by tossing an American football with buddies who accompanied him from back home.

And unlike those uneasy pairings of Woods and Mickelson, McIlroy, Day and Fowler are so comfortable with each other they could have been playing a casual round at a muni instead of the second round of a major championship.

Asked after Thursday’s first round if the trio talked a lot of golf, McIlroy looked slightly horrified, saying it was “cars, boats – anything but golf, really.”

Despite coming from all corners of the world – McIlroy is from Northern Ireland, Day from Australia, Fowler from Anaheim, Calif. – they’ve gotten to know each other at tournaments these past few years. When they’re in Florida at the same time, they’ll hang out together.

“We were just out there just having fun, talking about just random stuff,” Day said. “We were talking about Florida, talking about jumping on Sea-Doos, jumping on a lot of stuff, and it was just a lot of fun.”

Keep playing this way, and there could be more in store for years to come.

“Jason and I were on 18 green there at the end and I was joking with him about his putt and I said, ‘You know, this is a pretty cool place to be,”’ Fowler said. “We were just sitting there kind of enjoying it, and kind of out looking over the rest of the course. Exactly what I said. It’s a pretty cool place to be.”

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.