Never Too Young for Golfs Hall of Fame

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2005, 5:00 pm
World Golf Hall of FameST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Nick Faldo was 40 when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, two years removed from winning his third green jacket at Augusta National. It was a humbling experience, even for Faldo, to be included among the greatest in golf.
'Now that I'm in the Hall of Fame, I need to play like it,' he said that afternoon in May 1998.
It was too late for that.
Faldo never won again. He never seriously contended in another major.
And that's OK.
Most athletes in a Hall of Fame are not even supposed to play again. Baseball, for example, requires its players to be retired for five years before they get put on the ballot. And that's why Monday night's induction ceremony at the World Golf Village again raised the question that has proven difficult to answer.
When is the right time to honor someone's career in a timeless sport such as golf?
This year's class ranged from Karrie Webb, whose first professional victory was the Women's British Open in 1995, to Willie Park Sr., who won the first British Open in 1860.
For those who believe athletes should be retired, if not in the gloaming of their careers, it must have been odd to see Webb, at age 30, becoming the youngest golfer inducted since the shrine moved to St. Augustine in 1998.
Then again, maybe the shock value had worn off from when Annika Sorenstam was inducted two years ago at age 33. And just wait -- barring a career-ending injury, Se Ri Pak will be 30 when she is eligible for induction in 2007.
Webb certainly has the credentials.
She made it through LPGA qualifying school on her first try, despite playing with a broken bone in her wrist. As a rookie, she won four times and became the first woman to earn more than $1 million in one season. Webb won the career Grand Slam quicker than anyone, male or female, capturing all four majors in a span of seven starts.
It's her birth certificate that makes the World Golf Hall of Fame unlike any other.
Webb felt a little out of place at a dinner Sunday night in a room full of Hall of Famers, such as Carol Mann and Tony Jacklin and Joanne Carner.
'I was just like, 'What am I doing here?' she said. 'I still don't really feel like I should be among these great players. I think that will always take a long time to sink in for me.'
But don't mistake that for an apology. And don't get the idea Webb would have rather waited until she was at least 40, the age minimum for the PGA Tour ballot.
Nor should she have waited.
There is no proper time to induct golfers into the Hall of Fame, so why not put them in when they've earned it? The Hall of Fame should be about performance, not age, and that's one area in which the LPGA Tour does it right.
The PGA Tour and International ballots are tied to minimal standards (10 victories for the PGA Tour ballot), but require their candidates to be at least 40. Players originally had to receive 75 percent of the vote until that was watered down to 65 percent, and further diluted with a loophole that takes the highest vote-getter on at least 50 percent of the ballots if no one otherwise would get in.
Ultimately, there is some element of popularity involved.
How else to explain Ben Crenshaw getting elected in 2002, while Curtis Strange still waits? Their careers were similar -- two Masters for Crenshaw, back-to-back U.S. Opens for Strange -- although Crenshaw never won a money title, player of the year, and never was considered the dominant player of his era.
For the LPGA Tour, it's all about winning.
Players now must earn 27 points -- one for each victory and major award, two for a major. There are no exceptions among active players. Laura Davies is stuck on 25 points. Meg Mallon has 22 points. Both have work left.
The only stipulation is they play 10 years on the LPGA Tour.
But age was never an issue.
'You get points and have to be consistent and play on top for many years,' Sorenstam said last week. 'If it is based on playing performance, it shouldn't matter what age.'
Sure, it seems strange that Webb fought back tears during her induction Monday night, and will be playing in the season-ending ADT Championship on Thursday at Trump International.
Then again, Sorenstam has won 17 times and three majors since her induction. The last male to win at the highest level as a Hall of Famer was Hale Irwin, who was inducted in 1992 and won the MCI Heritage two years later.
For golf, there's nothing wrong with Hall of Famers still in their prime. Webb regularly competed against Beth Daniel, Juli Inkster and Pat Bradley. Paula Creamer, the 19-year-old rookie, had two Hall of Famers as partners (Daniel and Inkster) as partners in her first Solheim Cup.
'It's fun to play some of your career as a Hall of Famer,' Webb said. 'I've loved playing with and getting to know some of the Hall of Fame members. I will always look at these players as though I can't believe my name is among them. Maybe it's harder to accept than if I were 45.'
Instead of asking whether 30 is too young to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame, perhaps the question is why Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods should have to wait until they're 40.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.