Notes Is Love in the air Sergio sets sites for No 1
The 16-man Players Advisory Council and four player-directors on the PGA Tour policy board have nominated Love, Rocco Mediate and Dudley Hart as candidates for comeback player of the year.
Limited by back injuries, Mediate lost a 19-hole playoff to Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open and had another top 10 at the Memorial to finish 74th on the money list, his best year since 2003.
Hart missed most of last year during his wifes illness tending to his triplets, played this year on a family crisis extension and made it to the Tour Championship for the first time since 1999. He had six top-10s, including a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship which enabled him to finish 12th in the FedEx Cup.
Love is the only winner among the candidates, going 64-64 on the weekend at Disney for his 20th career victory. He was recovering from ankle surgery that kept him out of golf for four months and out of contention until the final month of the season. All three of his top 10s came during the Fall Series.
A more compelling vote might be for rookie of the year.
The five candidates are Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, Andres Romero, Kevin Streelman and Marc Turnesa, with all but Streelman winning a PGA Tour event. Reavie (Canada) and Romero (New Orleans) won events that awarded full FedEx Cup points.
No rookie had a better season than Romero, the Argentine who made the cut in all four majors (with top 10s in two of them) and finished 36th on the money list, the highest of the rookie nominees. He also was the only rookie at the Tour Championship.
It will be interesting to see whether players regard him as a pure rookie. Romero, 27, has played on the European Tour and nearly won the British Open last year at Carnoustie.
Sergio Garcia won a career-high four times in 2001 (twice each on the PGA and European tours), although this is considered his best season ever. The best evidence comes from the world ranking, and not just because the Spaniard is now No. 2.
Garcia earned 400.62 points this year, second only to Tiger Woods.
His only PGA Tour victory came at The Players Championship, but he also won the Castello Masters on his home course in Spain and the HSBC Champions against a strong field in China. He finished at No. 4 on the PGA Tour money list and No. 9 on the Order of Merit in Europe, and he won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.
But his best golf came in the last three months.
Starting with the PGA Championship, where he tied for second at Oakland Hills, Garcia played eight times and finished out of the top five only once, a tie for 20th at the BMW Championship in St. Louis. He lost in a playoff at The Barclays and at the Tour Championship.
The question now is whether he can resume his pace early next year, starting in Abu Dhabi, and catch the idle Woods at No. 1. Garcia currently has an 8.59 average and is 5.2 points behind'the same gap between Garcia and No. 24 in the ranking.
Woods probably wont return from his knee surgery before March 1, at which point he will be at 9.38.
Its possible, mainly because hes been injured, Garcia said after winning in China. But we know that as soon as he comes out, hes going to play well and hes going to become quite tough, and he seems to get away from us a little bit. But Ive never been this close to No. 1, and its exciting to be there.
DRIVE FOR SHOW
In another example that most players will take a good week of putting over hitting it prodigious lengths, PGA Tour information whiz Dave Lancer came up with the following statistic.
He compiled winners of tournaments on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour and found that they led the field in putting 16 times. The winner led the field in driving distance only twice.
Meanwhile, 13 players averaged more than 300 yards in driving distance this year, the lowest number since nine players averaged more than 300 yards in 2003. Three years ago, 26 players averaged more than 300 yards off the tee.
TOO GOOD TO MISS
Kevin Sutherland finished a career-best 18th on the PGA Tour money list, the first time he has been in the top 50 since his lone Tour victory in 2002 at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
That makes him eligible for another World Golf Championship, and a trip to a course he hasnt seen his rookie season.
What now is called the CA Championship was played in Ireland the last time Sutherland was eligible. It since has moved to the Blue Monster at Doral. Sutherland rarely plays in Florida, but hes not about to pass up an $8.5 million purse.
Sutherland missed the cut in 1996 after rounds of 71-74 on a Blue Monster that measured 6,939 yards. Since then, it has gone through a redesign to enhance the bunkers, another redesign after the changes were criticized, and it now is 7,266 yards.
I played it before the changes, Sutherland recalls. Then they did that first redesign, and I remember everyone didnt like it. I didnt like it before the changes, so I didnt see any reason to go back.
Bob Tway led the PGA Tour in putts per greens in regulation with a 1.718 average. At age 49, he became the oldest players to lead the tour in any statistical category. Oskar Henningsson won the final stage of European tour qualifying on Tuesday as 32 players earned their tour cards for 2009. Among those earning a card was former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart. Of the rookies who finished among the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list, four came from Q-school and four came from the Nationwide Tour.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Masters was the only major that did not finish in the top 10 toughest courses on the PGA Tour this year.
The only person he has ever been unkind to is himself.' David Feherty, speaking about John Daly.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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
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.