Notes Nervous Start for Hometown Kids

By Associated PressApril 6, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Vaughn Taylor grew up in Augusta, so the nerves were understandable when he made his Masters debut.
He had a bogey on his opening hole, another one at No. 2 and settled down for a 75.
'It took me a while to get comfortable,' Taylor said. 'I was a little more nervous than I wanted to be.'
Taylor is a two-time winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open who became eligible for the Masters by finishing in the top 40 on the PGA Tour money list a year ago. He is doing a diary for The Augusta Chronicle and seeing more friendly faces than normal, although he tends to walk with his eyes to the ground.
It wasn't his best, but it was a start.
'I hit a good shot on the first tee,' he said. 'You learn what your body feels like. You learn how to deal with it. Each time you go through, you get better at it.'
Taylor played with Rocco Mediate, who shot 68 and was one shot out of the lead. Mediate hardly considers himself a veteran of Augusta National, although he offered sound advice.
'I said, 'Vaughn, a 7-iron still goes ... 160 yards. There's no green jackets hanging in the trees. Just play golf,'' Mediate said. 'He kind of laughed. You could tell he was a bit nervous. He didn't shoot a good score today, but that's fine.'
Charles Howell III didn't quite figure it out Thursday.
He also grew up in Augusta, and has been playing in the Masters every year since 2002.
Howell recently revamped the circle around him, switching swing coaches and sports psychologists. But he bogeyed five of his first six holes and wound up with an 80, by four shots his worst score in the Masters.
The five amateurs at this year's Masters played like, well, amateurs.
U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy failed to make a birdie while playing with defending champion Tiger Woods and wound up with an 80. He was tied with British Amateur champion Brian McElhinney, who at least birdied the 16th.
Clay Ogden, the U.S. Amateur Public Links winner who beat Michelle Wie in the quarterfinals, took quadruple-bogey 8 on the ninth hole on his way to an 83, while U.S. Amateur runner-up Dillon Dougherty went without a birdie and shot 82.
U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh was low amateur Thursday -- no birdies in a 79.
Molinari had few complaints, spending the day before massive galleries while playing alongside Woods. The Masters traditionally puts the defending champion with the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.
'I was lucky to win the U.S. Amateur, and especially on the year I would play with Tiger,' Molinari said. 'It was really cool, and he was so nice. The most amazing experience I've ever had on a golf course. It beat my expectations by far.'
The Masters awards a sterling silver cup to the low amateur, provided he makes the cut. It has been awarded each of the last three years, a streak that looks to be over.
Even par never looked so good to Adam Scott.
The Aussie got off to a rough start in the first round of the Masters on Thursday, dropping three strokes in the first five holes. But he closed the front nine with three straight birdies to get back to even par, then had another 36 on the back nine.
'I got off to a bit of a nervous start, and then got it together,' he said. 'Even par is pretty good after being three over early.'
Scott's putter was the cause of his early problems. He needed three putts on Nos. 1 and 3, and missed a short one on No. 2.
'I was hitting shots OK, but I was a little shaky on the greens. That's always a little scary here,' said Scott, whose best finish in his previous four Masters is a tie for ninth in 2002. 'It was nice to pull myself together by the end of the front nine and give myself a chance.'
He wasn't the only player who recovered.
Davis Love III hit his tee shot on the par-3 12th over the green and into a bush, had to take a penalty drop and wound up with a triple bogey that left him 5 over par. He then birdied his next four holes and finished with a 2-over 74.
Robert Allenby was 3 over after three holes and headed south when he made a 35-foot par putt on the fourth. He shot 33 on the back nine and salvaged a 73.
Rocco Mediate hasn't been playing well the last two years as he copes with ongoing back problems.
He had to use a one-time exemption to keep his card last year, and a late surge allowed him to narrowly finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list. He is not the kind of guy anyone expected to see at the Masters.
Forgotten, however, is that he tied for sixth in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, his only top 10 last year. The Masters invites the top eight players from the U.S. Open.
Did anyone ask him why he was at Augusta National?
'Actually, they didn't,' Mediate said after his 68, leaving him one shot behind Vijay Singh. 'But I'd tell them, 'Just look at last year's U.S. Open,' and then they shut up.'
Mediate said he wouldn't blame anyone for asking.
'I haven't played a lot of golf, and I've been hurt,' he said. 'That's all body related, not golf swing or golf game related. Because otherwise, I would have killed myself by now.'
David Duval began using a cross-handed putting grip this week, although it didn't do him much good. He shot an 84. ... Fred Couples opened with a 71 and is in good shape to continue his streak as the only Masters champion to have never missed the cut at Augusta National. ... Thongchai Jaidee, the first Thai in 35 years at the Masters, shot 78. ... Ben Curtis had another good start at a major. The surprising winner of the '03 British Open was 3 under par until dropping two shots on the final five holes for a 71. He opened with a 67 at Baltusrol at the PGA Championship last year before tumbling into a tie for 34th. Curtis and his wife, Candace, recently learned they are expecting their first child in September.
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

    Photo Galleries: Best of ...

    Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

    Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

    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.