Mickelson Kaymer in Singapore aiming for top ranking

By Associated PressNovember 10, 2010, 8:43 pm

2009 European TourSINGAPORE – Phil Mickelson’s quest for golf’s No. 1 ranking may have suffered a setback in China last week, but the Masters champion expects a stronger performance starting Thursday at the Singapore Open.

Mickelson finished tied for 41st in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, hurting his effort to overtake England’s Lee Westwood for the top ranking.

“I didn’t play the best last week but I seem to play better the second week of my two-week stretch and hope to put it together this week,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson said he hasn’t “played the way I liked to this year other than the win in Augusta,” and he faces another daunting field in the $6 million Singapore Open.

Fellow 2010 major winners Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer are among the 204-man field, as is defending champion Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari – fresh off his one-shot win at the HSBC. Asia’s first major winner Y.E. Yang and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington are also in the mix.

Kaymer and Mickelson, ranked third and fourth, respectively, are vying for the No. 1 spot held by England’s Lee Westwood, who finished second in Shanghai in his first tournament atop the rankings.

Poulter, currently ranked 15th, also has designs on eventually claiming the No. 1 spot. The top ranking was out of reach in the years when Tiger Woods was at his peak, but now Poulter sees a window of opportunity.

“Everybody is now in the frame to push forward,” Poulter said. “With that in mind, anybody in the top 10 in the world has a good six months, can find themselves moving up the world ranking higher enough to contend for that No. 1 spot. And that’s something I’m aiming for.”

The field for the co-sanctioned European Tour and Asian Tour event will be spread over two courses this year, with one round at the tighter Tanjong course and three at Serapong. The number of players meant not all will be able to get in practice rounds.

“It isn’t ideal,” Poulter said. “I’ll walk out with my caddie and have a good look at it and that’s about all I get on the other course (Tanjong). Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it works against you. We’ve all played a golf course blind.”

Mickelson was glad to be playing in a city and a region where enthusiasm for the sport is growing.

“There are a lot of people playing golf in Singapore and Asia now and it is exciting to see the game grow because in the United States, it has not been growing and staying the same if not declining,” Mickelson said.

Kaymer was one player who was able to scout the course, noting there was little need for a driver, while the 3 woods and low irons will be out of the bag regularly.

“The long iron hitters are at a bit of an advantage this week so you have to be a good iron player,” Kaymer said.

McDowell, ranked No. 10, was less concerned with the course than the air that hung above it in the humid city-state.

“I’m trying to think of the last time I’ve played in a heat like this and it could well be in Singapore at this tournament last year,” McDowell said. “You really have to conserve the energy a little.”

After a midseason lull, Poulter’s play has picked up with a strong Ryder Cup showing, and he expects a strong title defense. Yang also started the year promisingly, getting a top 10 finish in the Masters, but has tailed off since.

“For many players, it would have been a successful year, but after the personal highs in 2009, it has been a bit disappointing, especially as I have not won on the PGA Tour, where I play the majority of my golf,” Yang said.

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.

Getty Images

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.