Notes Year of the Blowout Wies Big Heart
Four months into the season, this is becoming the year of the blowout.
Competition is so tough and so deep that it's rare when anyone wins by more than a shot or two. But when Appleby won the Houston Open by six shots, it was the sixth time in 16 tournaments that the margin of victory was at least five shots.
These guys are good. But some of these guys aren't having to sweat very much.
'I've watched tournaments where players had big victories and thought, 'I don't know how easy it would be or how crazy it would be,'' Appleby said. 'I felt comfortable and relaxed knowing there was no way I could mess up the tournament.'
How rare is a victory by five shots or more?
There were only four tournaments decided by that margin all of last year, and only twice in the last 10 years have there been more than six tournaments won by at least five shots. It happened seven times in 2003 and eight times in 2000 -- half of those by Tiger Woods, who won the U.S. Open by 15, the British Open by eight, the NEC Invitational by 11 and the Memorial by five.
Phil Mickelson owns the largest margin of victory this year, winning by 13 shots at the BellSouth Classic.
Two blowouts have come from first-time PGA TOUR winners -- rookie J.B. Holmes by seven shots in Phoenix and Arron Oberholser by five shots at Pebble Beach. The other big winners were David Toms (five shots at the Sony Open) and Stephen Ames (six shots at The Players Championship).
Since the PGA TOUR was formed in 1969, the biggest year of blowouts was in 1982, when nine tournaments were decided by five shots or more. The tightest year was 1991, when the largest margin of victory all year was four shots, and 17 events were won in a playoff.
Michelle Wie's charity is getting as much attention as her golf.
The 16-year-old from Hawaii donated $500,000 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund when she turned pro last October. Now, she has donated $300,000 to an endowment at the Yonsei University Severance Hospital and Korea University Medical Center that will pay for operations for more than 30 children who could not otherwise afford them.
Wie will be in South Korea next week for the SK Telecom Open, her eighth time competing against the men.
'Before she made a commitment to play in the SK Telecom Open, Michelle wanted to do something in her first trip to Korea as a professional golfer and she wanted to help children with illnesses but whose parents don't have the money to pay (for) the surgery,' her father, B.J. Wie, told The Honolulu Advertiser.
The hospital selected which children, between the ages of 8 and 18, would get the operations.
ON THE RISE
Steve Stricker was on his way to pay his taxes when life took a turn for the better.
A four-time winner on the PGA TOUR who is having to get by on sponsors' exemptions this year, Stricker had not played since the Ford Championship at Doral the first week of March and his prospects were looking bleak. Then he got a call from Steve Timms, the tournament director of the Houston Open, offering him an exemption.
'I started to get a little worried that I wasn't getting into any events,' Stricker said. 'Funny how things can change out here from one week to the next.'
With the weather improving in Wisconsin, Stricker had been trying to stay competitive by playing money games with Jerry Kelly and some friends from the Canadian Tour. He carried that to Redstone, shot 68-66 on the weekend and finished third, his best result since winning the 2001 Match Play Championship in Australia.
Better yet, it was worth $374,000 and moved him from No. 155 to No. 58 on the money list. And finishing in the top 10 earned him a spot in the field this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
'Every bit helps me, especially when I don't know when I'm going to get into an event,' Stricker said. 'Those finishing holes are so hard. I made birdie on No. 15, and was just trying to make pars on the way in. Fortunately, I was able to do that.'
Houston was only his fourth start this year. He tied for 14th at Pebble Beach, tied for 30th at Tucson and missed the cut at Doral.
Stricker now has $471,484, already more money than he earned in each of the last three years. And while he still has to play out of the past champions category -- among the lowest on the totem pole -- the reshuffle after the U.S. Open should help him get into more events.
British Open officials are still waiting for the first woman to enter this year's tournament at Royal Liverpool.
The Royal & Ancient Club revised its rules last year to allow women to enter. Although Michelle Wie has said she won't play, officials are still hopeful of other entries.
'We did not open it up to women hoping they would not enter,' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Tuesday. 'Having done that, it will be a shame if they do not take advantage of the opportunity. Having said that, it was never our intention to disrupt the women's tours. ... But the option is there.'
Women are eligible to enter regional qualifying if they finish in the top five of the majors.
One problem is that the HSBC Match Play Championship on the LPGA Tour is July 6-9, which clashes with regional qualifying for the British Open.
Prize money for the U.S. Open will remain at $6.5 million, the first time in 25 years it did not increase its purse. That makes two consecutive majors that have not raised the purse. The Masters again was $7 million. The U.S. Women's Open prize money also will stay the same at $3.1 million. ... Mike Weir's tie for sixth at the Houston Open was his fourth top-10 of the year, already twice as many as he had in 2005. ... International players have won eight of 17 events this year on the PGA TOUR.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tim Petrovic has missed 16 cuts in his last 30 events since winning in New Orleans last year.
'She has the ability to do for the women's tour what Tiger has done for the men's tour, and that would help all of us.' -- Morgan Pressel on Michelle Wie's impact on the LPGA Tour.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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.