Like most majors these days PGA is anyones title

By Associated PressAugust 11, 2010, 5:05 pm

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – With five of the last six majors won by first-timers, the days of the biggest names hoarding the best titles may be over.

Ahead of Thursday’s start of the PGA Championship, players like Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, South African Louis Oosthuizen and Lucas Glover, who once only dreamed of hoisting a claret jug or Wanamaker Trophy now look at their unassuming practice-round-partners-turned-major-champions and think, “Why not me?”

“It’s more tangible,” said Padraig Harrington, who credits Michael Campbell of New Zealand with inspiring his major swing. Two years after Campbell’s victory at the 2005 U.S. Open, the Irishman won the British Open, quickly followed by a second straight claret jug and the 2008 PGA title. “You need that familiarity. You had that in the ’80s when Seve (Ballesteros) started winning majors and other (European) players followed. Mentally, they could see that it could be done.

“It’s the old story, once the record is broken, a lot of people can follow.”

Of course, breaking through is a lot easier when Tiger Woods is playing like a mere mortal.

With his personal life in turmoil, so is Woods’ game. He’s been stuck on 14 majors since the 2008 U.S. Open, and arrived at Whistling Straits fresh off the worst tournament of his career. He beat just one player in the 80-man field last weekend, and shot a whopping 18-over 298 at Firestone – a course where he’s won seven times.

“I’ll be honest, the feeling in the locker room is slightly different,” England’s Paul Casey said, choosing his words carefully. “With the way (Woods) played the past week, guys feel like this is wide open, and that’s not a feeling that a lot of guys have had before. Graeme McDowell played tremendous golf at the U.S. Open. So did Louis playing his golf at The Open. That, combined with the way Tiger played last week, I think guys now feel there are multiple possible winners this week.

“It’s different. Not a feeling we’ve had in a while.”

Woods could usually be counted on to win at least one major each season and, as recently as 2006, he won two of them. Throw in Phil Mickelson, and the world’s top two players combined to win six of the eight majors in 2005 and ’06. That’s a formidable club for an up-and-comer to crash.

But with every victory by a Glover or McDowell or Oosthuizen, the majors don’t seem quite so daunting.

Glover was 71st in the world when he won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. McDowell had to sweat out his exemption to the U.S. Open before holding off Woods, Mickelson and Ernie Els at Pebble Beach. And Oosthuizen had made the cut at only one of his previous eight majors before winning at St. Andrews.

“I think the days of no-names getting in contention on Sunday afternoon and backing up, it doesn’t really happen anymore,” McDowell said. “Guys only have forward gears now, as opposed to anything else. Guys are not scared anymore.”

As if there was any doubt, McDowell turned to some unlikey sources for inspiration Sunday at Pebble Beach, when Woods, Mickelson and Els – multiple major winners – were chasing him.

“Y.E. Yang, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson – I was taking some belief from those guys doing it,” McDowell, the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open, said, rattling off a list of first-timers. “There’s no doubt, it has a knock-on effect.”

So who’s next?

Rory McIlroy is always a popular choice. McDowell’s fellow Northern Irishman tied the major-championship record with a 63 in the first round at the British Open, only to blow up with an 80 on Friday afternoon. But the 21-year-old player showed his mettle, closing 69-68 to finish in a tie for third.

There’s Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese phenom who earlier this year shot a 58, the lowest score ever on a recognized tour. Paul Casey’s run at becoming the first Englishman since Faldo to win the British Open might have disappeared in a gorse bush, but his tie for third at St. Andrews shows he is as dangerous as he was last summer, when he climbed to No. 3 in the world before being sidelined by a rib injury.

Hunter Mahan is fresh off a win at Firestone. And don’t forget about local favorite Steve Stricker, whose rock steady consistency has him in position to claim the world No. 1 ranking – although he’d need a bit of help from Mickelson and Woods.

“Anyone that tees off in any of these events can win it,” Oosthuizen said. “I just think it’s getting to a stage where you can have, in the majors, different winners all the time.”

All that being said, no one’s about to count out Woods or Mickelson.

Woods’ debacle at Firestone allowed him to put in some extra time at Whistling Straits, and he sounded genuinely excited Tuesday about the progress he’s seen in his game. Mickelson may have stumbled in his opportunities to claim the world No. 1, but those struggles were put in a different light after he revealed Tuesday that he has psoriatic arthritis, which causes his immune system to attack his joints and tendons.

Mickelson first felt symptoms of the condition five days before the U.S. Open began, and experienced such intense pain he couldn’t walk. Medication has brought the illness under control, and Mickelson said there will be no long- or short-term negative effects on his health.

This major free-for-all may be maddening for golf fans who got used to having to worry about only a handful of players. But rather than seeing it as a sign the game is in disarray, McDowell said it’s a celebration of golf’s strength.

“We have such a wealth of talent all over the world – from Asia, from Europe, from the British Isles, from America,” McDowell said. “It’s just strong right now, the sport, and I think long may it continue.”

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 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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.