A new world order at this World Golf Championship

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2011, 9:11 am

DORAL, Fla. (AP)—The top three players in the world ranking will be in thesame group for the opening two rounds of the Cadillac Championship, the secondtime in five weeks for such a glamorous 1-2-3 punch. There is on notablesubstitution.

Luke Donald is in.

Tiger Woods is out.

And for most fans at Doral for this World Golf Championship, the main eventwill be one notch down the ranking for Woods, Phil Mickelson and GraemeMcDowell .

Donald moved up to No. 3 two weeks ago in Arizona when he captured thebiggest win of his career at the Match Play Championship. That puts himalongside Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood when the Cadillac Championship getsunder way Thursday on the Blue Monster.

Donald doesn’t obsess over the ranking, although it’s hard to dismiss onefact.

“There’s only two players ranked higher than me in the world right now, andthat’s pretty amazing to think about,” Donald said.

Even more amazing—Woods isn’t among them.

He had been No. 1 for more than five years until his shocking fall, on andoff the golf course. Westwood was the first to replace Woods at the end ofOctober, and then Kaymer replaced Westwood with his runner-up finish at theMatch Play.

McDowell took over at No. 4, pushing Woods down to his lowest level sincethe week before he won the 1997 Masters.

Even so, there’s always something special about Woods and Mickelson,particularly at Doral.

They are the top two players of their generations, supported by the recordalone. Woods has 82 victories around the world, including 14 majors. Mickelsonis at 40 worldwide wins with four majors.

Their combined 18 majors is equal to the rest of the 69-man field at Doralcombined.

“We don’t get paired together very often,” Woods said.

This will be the 27th time that Woods and Mickelson have been the samegroup, and only the fifth time it took place on Thursday and Friday of atournament. The last three were either majors (2008 U.S. Open, 2006 PGAChampionship), or a FedEx Cup playoff event (2007 Deutsche Bank Championship).

Mickelson, who played Augusta National on Tuesday, rested on the day beforeDoral. His caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, walked the course and met up with Woodsearly in his practice round.

“Bones and I were on the golf course today and trying to remember the lasttime it happened in a non-major,” Woods said of their pairing. “And he thoughtit was in ’98. So obviously, we don’t get to do it very often.”

That was the 1998 Nissan Open, the year it moved from Riviera to Valencia,the only time a Woods-Mickelson weekday pairing was done by a blind draw. Andthat streak continues, for there was nothing blind about this one.

The PGA Tour has been tweaking its pairings this year to make forinteresting stories on television, perhaps to attract more viewers when it getsto the network coverage on the weekend.

Woods and Mickelson figured to be put together at some point, and it wascoincidence that they were next to each other in the ranking. The twist is thatneither is among the new “Big Three,” at least at the moment.

They first played together at Doral in the final round of 2005 when it was aregular PGA Tour event, and a sold-out crowd that approached some 50,000 turnedthe Blue Monster into a rock concert.

Mickelson took a two-shot lead into the final round, only for Woods to rallyand take a one-shot lead into the final hole. Mickelson’s chip from just off thegreen to force a playoff caught the lip, and Woods won to return to No. 1 in theworld.

A year later, they were in the final group of the third round when Woodsshot 68 and took the lead, leaving Mickelson four shots behind. Woods went on towin the next day.

It was part of three straight wins at Doral, although victories haven’t beenpiling up for Woods in the last few years. He now has gone 15 months since hislast win at the Australian Masters, right before his personal life imploded onThanksgiving night with the revelation of extramarital affairs.

Mickelson, meanwhile, has not won since the Masters.

Who could have imagined that Woods and Mickelson would have one victorybetween them over the last 15 months?

Woods has not shown many signs that he is close to regaining his form, andthe venue doesn’t help like it once did. He had won five straight times atTorrey Pines, then finished out of the top 10 for the first time ever. He hadnever finished out of the top 10 at Dubai, and wound up fading on Sunday into atie for 20th.

Woods might continue to fall in the ranking if he doesn’t start playingbetter. As for no longer being No. 1?

“It’s about winning golf tournaments, and I haven’t done that,” Woodssaid. “There’s no reason for me to be up there at the top. You have to win golftournaments and you have to do it consistently. Lee did it, Martin’s done it,and that’s what it takes.”

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.

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 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.

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.