Murotas 66 leads at wet Senior PGA Championship

By Associated PressMay 27, 2011, 5:00 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota surprised even himself by shooting a 6-under 66 on Thursday to overshadow stars such as Mark O’Meara and Tom Watson and grab the first-round lead in the weather-plagued Senior PGA Championship.

After a 90-minute delay at the start of the round and a later suspension of play that lasted more than 3 hours, half the field was still on the course when darkness fell. Those 78 players will hit Valhalla Golf Club early Friday to complete the first round.

Murota had a one-shot edge on alternate Trevor Dodds, with former Masters and British Open winner O’Meara another stroke back after a 68. Watson, an eight-time major champion, shot a 70.

Murota’s 66 was built around a short game that consistently helped him avoid trouble. He had four sand saves and 11 one-putt greens without a bogey.

Murota was the unlikeliest of leaders. He has six Japan Tour victories and five more on that country’s version of the senior circuit. But he has not won on the international stage or on American soil.

In his four previous appearances in the Senior PGA Championship, his worst finish was a tie for 33rd in 2007 and his best a tie for 14th in 2006.

The 55-year-old golf teacher and touring pro was 1 under through eight holes before birdieing the next four. Even though he had eight one-putt greens in a span of nine holes, he said after the round that he is typically an average putter.

Accuracy was his greatest ally. He hit 10 fairways on a day when some of the game’s top names found big problems when they strayed into the thick rough.

Dodds was fortunate to even get in the field. He didn’t get a spot until Tuesday when Joey Sindelar withdrew because of a bad back.

The St. Louis resident, originally from Namibia, needed just 23 putts to fashion his 67. He chipped in at the par-4 12th for a birdie, part of five birdies on his home half.

Hard storms hit the course on Wednesday night and again on Thursday morning. The start was delayed because of 1 1/2 inches of rain overnight along with some wind damage. Murota, in the first group off the 10th tee, was halfway through his second nine when another powerful thunderstorm ripped through the area. It delayed play for 3 hours, 11 minutes.

O’Meara called the conditions “trying” but he avoided problems all day except for a bogey at the uphill, par-4 ninth hole. In eight seniors starts this year, he’s had three top 10s and has been no worse than a tie for 14th.

In the clubhouse with 69s were Lonnie Nielsen and Bruce Vaughan, while club pro Perry Arthur was 3 under through 10 holes when play ended. Watson, who won the 2001 Senior PGA, was at 70 along with Des Smyth and Massachusetts club pro Kirk Hanefeld. Nick Price, a two-time winner of the PGA Championship and also a former British Open champion, was at 2 under through nine holes when darkness ended play.

John Cook and Bobby Clampett were at 71. At even par were Tom Kite and Corey Pavin, along with birthday-boy Steve Pate. Pate turned 50 on Thursday, just getting into the field in the 50-and-over event.

Other prominent finishers included Jay Haas with a 73 that included a triple-bogey 7 at the 16th hole, and Mark Brooks with a 74. Brooks won the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 1996.

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.