Montgomerie Shoots for Second Best

By Associated PressDecember 5, 2002, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Colin Montgomerie's career was at a crossroads in May when he slipped to No. 38 in the world ranking, his lowest position in 10 years. He considers his return to No. 10 an impressive achievement.
'I'm back where I feel I should be,' he said Wednesday.
Where does Montgomerie go from there?
'Forward,' he replied.
How far?
'Number 2,' he said.
Motivation isn't the problem. Even at age 39, three years removed from the last of his record seven consecutive money titles on the European tour, Montgomerie believes he still has the game and the desire to contend every time he plays.
It's that other guy ' Tiger Woods ' keeping him realistic.
Montgomerie wasn't just being gracious to the host of the Target World Challenge, which starts Thursday at Sherwood Country Club and features 16 world-class players.
He was being realistic.
Montgomerie doesn't have the game to catch Woods in the world ranking, and he's not sure anyone else does, either.
Phil Mickelson is currently No. 2, although it is virtually impossible for Lefty to catch Woods in the world ranking next year or the year after.
Right behind is Ernie Els. Montgomerie gives him higher marks, if only because the Big Easy is coming off an eight-stroke victory in South Africa.
'If Tiger still has the commitment to keep going and the desire, it's going to be very difficult for anybody,' the Scot said.
Montgomerie would have no qualms with being No. 2, not like he did seven years ago when he pushed Greg Norman and came close on a few occasions to overtaking him.
'Now if you're the second-best golfer in the world, it's not bad, considering who's No. 1,' Montgomerie said.
He'll get a crack at Woods this week in a $3.8 million tournament that marks the end of the silly season.
Along with being the host, Woods also is the defending champion. A year ago, he closed with a 64 and made up a four-stroke deficit against Vijay Singh on the back nine to win by three strokes.
Woods faces an elite field that features eight of the top 10 in the world ranking ' only Els and Sergio Garcia are missing ' and 14 of the top 20.
'You're competing not only for a lot of money, but you're also playing against some of the best players in the world,' Woods said.
This is Montgomerie's first trip to California since the Match Play Championship at La Costa in late February, when he was beaten in the first round and vowed never to return to America because of what he perceived to be heckling.
He has put that behind him, and now says he is getting more confident and more comfortable in the United States, which can only lead to good things.
'Hopefully, a major might just come around,' he said.
Montgomerie for years was considered the best player not to win a major, although he says Mickelson now deserves that label more than him.
'I always felt it was quite an accolade, that,' he said. 'Because obviously, it's better than being the second-best to not win a major. He's probably overtaken me now. We've both been at it for quite a time.'
Montgomerie is gearing up for four more chances at the majors next year.
His official season ended in controversy when he and Bernhard Langer decided to share the title in the Volvo Masters when it became too dark to continue their playoff. He also counts the Ryder Cup as a victory, which he should, because Montgomerie was the only player unbeaten in five matches.
Since then, he has changed equipment to the Hogan Apex Tour golf ball, and will go to Texas on Monday to start working on the Hogan irons.
He won't start playing golf again until either the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines or the Nissan Open at Riviera, giving him time to prepare for the Match Play Championship.
Montgomerie has never won an official tournament in the United States, which Tony Jacklin recently called one of the great mysteries of golf.
It's really no secret. Unlike other Europeans, such as Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal or Langer, Montgomerie has never played a full PGA Tour schedule.
And he's not about to now.
'The need to play over here full-time now has disappeared because we play these tournaments anyway,' he said, alluding to the BellSouth Classic, The Players Championships and other events considered European tuneups for the majors.
Montgomerie believes the gap between the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour has closed significantly in the last 10 years, and he points to the Ryder Cup as an example.
Europe has won the cup in six of the last nine matches, and stunned a heavily favored U.S. team at The Belfry in September by winning 15 1/2 -12 1/2 .
'There was a time where 30th place in America was a lot stronger than 30th place in Europe,' he said. 'Now, I think that gap has closed, and it's closing all over the world.'
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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 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.