Mistakes dash US Open hopes of Big 3

By Associated PressJune 21, 2010, 7:53 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – They go on a first-name basis: Tiger, Phil and Ernie.

On Sunday, they all went home empty.

When the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was over, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els could all say they had their chances. None, however, could convert, which is how a little-known European named Graeme McDowell found himself holding the trophy.

That’s three players with 20 majors between them, and none could figure out a way to make it 21.

Els, playing some of the best golf of his life of late, got tantalizingly close to his first major championship since the 2002 British Open, but went bogey-double-bogey on Nos. 9 and 10 to throw away his chance. He finished third, two shots out of the lead.

Mickelson, the Masters winner searching for the second leg of the Grand Slam, made birdie with a putt from off the green on No. 1, but didn’t make another one the rest of the day. He tied for fourth with Woods, who, like Mickelson, shot a 66 earlier in the tournament to put himself in position to win.

“I thought when I made that putt on the first hole, it was going to be a great day,” said Mickelson, who found the greens getting bumpier and more unpredictable as he worked his way around on a cool, breezy day at Pebble.

As did Woods.

Tiger Woods
Woods spent much of his Sunday in trouble en route to shooting 4-over 75. (Getty Images)

“Every putt I missed was from above the hole,” he said. “Yesterday I made everything because it was all below the hole. These greens are bumpy enough where putts above the holes, it’s just pot luck.”

While Woods found himself on the wrong side of the hole for most of the day, Mickelson and Els each watched their title hopes slip away on the so-called “Cliffs of Doom” – the stretch of holes 8, 9 and 10 that run along the Monterey Peninsula. They are as beautiful and treacherous as they come.

Els was at 3-under par, tied with McDowell for the lead, when he came up short on his approach on No. 9, then chipped up short, as well, and needed two putts to get down. Bogey.

Then, the real killer: a tee shot that went off the course, over the edge, almost certainly matted in the thick grass that leads down to the beach. It’s the Pacific Ocean – the biggest water hazard in the world – and Els had the common sense to ask a rules official if he would be penalized for touching the ground as he picked his way down the hill, trying to keep his balance.

No problem there. But he never found his ball. And when he came back onto terra firma to drop, he chunked it, hit that ball into the tall grass, as well, and was lucky to make a 6 from there.

A decent save for most – just not when you’re trying to win the U.S. Open.

Meanwhile, it was down below near that same water two days earlier that beachgoers wrote “Go Phil!” in the sand. A great scene, and fitting on Friday, when Mickelson was figuring out his putter, going low, shooting his 66.

It turned him into a favorite heading into the weekend. But Saturday, he was teetering precariously on the same hill after an awful approach on No. 9 – Lefty forced to turn his club around and hit righty. He made a double-bogey there that marked the official end of his hot streak.

Mickelson spent all day Sunday playing catch-up, a reality captured best when, trailing McDowell by three with three holes left, he went pin hunting on No. 16 and left the ball buried in the deep rough, en route to a bogey.

“I took a chance, it didn’t pay off,” he told his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.

No way to argue with that one.

Had any of these Big 3 won, it would have made for a great story.

Woods, of course, is returning from an embarrassing winter of discontent, his personal life turning him into the butt of jokes, his invincibility being questioned more than ever. He enjoyed nine holes of good golf – the back nine on Saturday – but couldn’t keep it going Sunday.

“It’s a process,” Woods said, after adding this tie for fourth to the same result at the Masters. “It’s a long process, but I’ve put some of it together, and I hit some shots this week that I haven’t hit in a long time.”

Els is on a resurgence of late, 10 years after all but waving the white flag when Woods beat him by 15 shots on this same course at the U.S. Open. It was embarrassing, he admitted, and Woods, he said, wasn’t playing the same game as everyone else. That’s not true anymore, though Els, who played the final 10 holes in 5-over par, didn’t stick around long enough after Sunday’s round to discuss it.

Then there was Mickelson. Few will soon forget the tear that trickled down his face after his win at the Masters earlier this year – a poignant celebration with his wife, Amy, who is overcoming breast cancer and was in Augusta to celebrate the moment. A win at Pebble Beach would have given Mickelson the second leg of the Grand Slam, vaulted him past Woods to No. 1 in the world rankings and given him his first U.S. Open after a record five second-place finishes.

Instead, he finished fourth and was trying to see the glass as half full.

“For me, yeah, I wanted to win,” he said. “But I’m glad that it wasn’t a second.”

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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.