Notes Sawgrass Back in Business Couples OK
There were a few subtle alterations along the way, and in a refreshing change, it wasn't only about length.
The home of The Players Championship now measures 7,215, an increase of a mere 117 yards over six holes. The two largest gains were an additional 23 yards on No. 11 to make it 558 yards, and 31 yards on the opening hole to make it 423 yards, which is still a 3-wood and short iron for most pros. There also is a new tee on the par-3 eighth that allows it to play as long as 237 yards.
The most noticeable change are the three bunkers to the right of the seventh fairway in the landing area, which provide a better frame and essentially create at least a half-shot penalty.
Also, trees were planted left of the par-5 ninth fairway and to the right of the par-4 sixth fairway. And in case anyone was wondering, no one filled in that big pond surrounding the 17th green.
The island green remains the signature hole at Sawgrass, but not necessarily the most breathtaking view.
While it won't be finished for another six months, the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse, with a Mediterranean Revival design, looms spectacularly behind the 18th green. It adds distinction to the PGA TOUR's home course, becoming part of the landscape in much the same way as clubhouses at Riviera, Shinnecock Hills and Augusta National (back when you could see the clubhouse from the 18th tee at Augusta).
Fans will notice the amphitheater behind the first tee has been removed, allowing for a view of and from the clubhouse.
The course officially opened to the public Monday, and while it was in good shape, parts of the ninth fairway (about 180 yards from the tee) were slow to recover. There were chunks of turf missing, along with long strips of dirt that had not grown in, almost as if a varmint had been digging a trench.
'Do you know what animal did this?' a TOUR official asked with a smile. 'Vijay Singh.'
PGA TOUR players used the ninth fairway as the range while the practice facility was being rebuilt.
Fred Couples says the blood clot discovered in his arm is gone and he feels fine.
Couples withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational in August and was having his back worked on when his specialist, Tom Boers, recommended he go to the hospital. Extensive tests eventually revealed a clot between his wrist and elbow.
Couples, 47, treated it with medicine and said, 'I feel great,' although it was a scare.
'I've had a couple of small things done with my back that I was in a room, but I've never been in a hospital, and I didn't really enjoy it,' he said. 'And then when I was talking to the doctor, I had a few things going on with the back of my head ... which I laughed about until he sat down with me and told me what could have happened.'
Couples' mother died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, and his father died of leukemia in 1997.
'I've seen stuff they've been through,' he said. 'I would rather wait quite a few years before anything like that happens.'
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was among a record six Australians to win on the PGA TOUR this year, and it's safe to say the Aussies are swelling with pride.
Ogilvy and Robert Allenby noted that Americans are starting to take notice of the Aussie success, with Allenby suggesting Americans have struggled because they don't have to work for what they get.
'We have to work pretty hard to get results, whereas a lot of them over there are looking for handouts, and that is why they don't become the players that they should become,' Allenby told reporters at the Australian Open. 'We'll go anywhere to play. We learn to travel at a young age and they don't. Everything is handed to them on a plate.
'We have to work our (tails) off to become the best golfers in the world.'
Ogilvy, who won his first major when Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie took double bogey on the 18th hole at Winged Foot, said the Americans are in 'a bit of a flap' over the state of their game, especially with no young players on the horizon.
'All of a sudden, there are 20-something of us on tour and we got another five more guys qualifying from the Nationwide Tour, so they are starting to wonder what we are doing,' Ogilvy said. 'In reality, we shouldn't be able to do it when they have 300 million people to our 20 million. It annoys them a bit, not because we are foreigners, but because they are not winning.'
Now that the wound is open, it's time to pour some salt.
'And,' Ogilvy added, 'they lost the Ryder Cup again this year.'
The second stage of PGA TOUR qualifying school gets under way this week on six courses, which some consider to be the most pressure of all. Those who fail to advance have no chance for status on either the PGA TOUR or Nationwide Tour.
Among those who made it out of the first stage was Ty Tryon, who first made it through all three stages in 2001 and would be graduating college this year if he had not turned pro.
Several notable players failed to advance through the first stage. One was Kevin Hall, who has been deaf since age 2. He shot 77 in the final round in Lakeland, Fla., and missed making the cut by three shots.
The horror story belonged to Aaron Barber, who played with Annika Sorenstam and Dean Wilson in the first two rounds of the '03 Colonial. Barber was only four shots out of the lead going into the final round in North Carolina when he finished with a double bogey, quadruple bogey and quadruple bogey to shoot 83 and miss by one shot.
The LPGA Championship has raised its purse to $2 million for 2007, an increase of $200,000. ... The Champions Tour is bracing for a strong rookie class that includes Mark O'Meara, Bernhard Langer and John Cook. But it is missing two of the biggest stars of that era -- Greg Norman and Nick Faldo -- both of whom have said they do not expect to play more than a few events. Faldo is consumed with television work. Norman has said he will only play the Senior British Open. ... Americans are Nos. 1-2-3 in the world ranking (Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson), but don't have another player until Davis Love III at No. 16.
STAT OF THE WEEK
John Daly played six more PGA TOUR events than Tiger Woods, but four fewer rounds.
'Because he's a player that always wins, I didn't know whether I should congratulate him on finishing second.' -- Yang Yong-eun, after winning the HSBC Champions by two shots over Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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.