Nielsen Enjoys Being the Defending Champ

By Associated PressJune 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
Champions TourEAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- Lonnie Nielsens last few days have been unlike any hes had as a big-time professional golfer.
This is the first time for me doing this as a defending champion, Nielsen said Thursday, the day before he was to tee it up as the reigning champion of the Commerce Bank Championship on the Champions Tour.
Nielsen played on the PGA TOUR full-time from 1978-83 with his best finish a tie for fifth at Quad Cities in 1979. He then became a club pro and was successful on the New York State PGA circuit, winning 32 times from 1984-2003.
But it was his 14-under 199 total at the Red Course at Eisenhower Park last year that gave him a two-stroke victory over Loren Roberts and his first Champions Tour win in his fourth full year on the over-50 circuit.
It was a big confidence boost to me, Nielsen said. You have a feeling of belonging, of getting over a big hurdle because you are playing with World Golf Hall of Famers, major champions and on and on. Everyone out here has such a great resume and that win has been a big reason for my success the last year.
Since winning on Long Island, Nielsen has had nine top 10 finishes, including ones in the U.S. Senior Open and British Senior Open. He tied for seventh last week and is 13th on the current money list with $574,759.
Nielsen smiled broadly when asked about what followed last years victory.
It felt like it went on for about a month. It was exhausting yet absolutely sheer joy, he said. Driving from the golf course my voice mail was full and by the time I listened to the messages, it was full again. Then we got in the plane and it was full again. We got to hotel and there were 150 e-mails. I heard from people I didnt know but they had some sort of connection with me. It was the most fun part of the whole deal. It was such a cool week and then I got to the next tournament and had the other players pat me on the back and welcome me to the club.
Nielsen is one of seven former champions playing in the $1.6 million event that has a first prize of $240,000.
Jeff Sluman, who won for the first time on the Champions Tour last week at the Bank of America Championship, said being a six-time winner on the PGA TOUR took nothing away from his latest win.
Its nice to win any time, any place in any event from junior golf to professional, he said, adding nothing changes to the way these golfers approach the end of a tournament. You just want to win. The rush of competition gets in your blood.
Nick Price has yet to win in his second full season on the Champions Tour. The three-time major champion, who was ranked No. 1 in the world during the 1990s, has seven top 10 finishes this year, including six of his last seven events.
I was just burnt out in 2005. I was playing the same schedule at 47 that I was playing at 31 or 32 and I hit a brick wall, the 51-year-old said. The Champions Tour has been a breath of fresh air but my game was behind. Slowly, toward the end of last year I felt it was coming back. This year I have built on that. Every week Ive had a chance to finish in the top 10 and Ive had three chances out here to win.
You still get the butterflies, have that apprehension. We all enjoy that when we are in control of our game. Every guy here feels the exact same way and wants to be in the hunt on Sunday on the back nine.
One golfer hoping to have that feeling return quickly is Peter Jacobsen, who is playing for the first time since March when he had knee replacement surgery.
I have a renewed spirit now. Im ready to play, but probably not ready to win, said Jacobsen, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour. The doctor told me to go play.
Other former champions in the field are Bruce Fleisher (1999, 2000), Jim Thorpe (2003, 2004), Dana Quigley (1997), Bobby Wadkins (2001), Ron Streck (2005) and John Harris (2006). The course, a county-owned public facility which hosted the 1926 PGA Championship, will be a par 71 at 7,082 yards. There are five members of the World Golf Hall of Fame in the field: Price, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Isao Aoki and Curtis Strange.

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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.