Notes Youth is served Tiger US Open favorite

By Associated PressApril 13, 2011, 4:08 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The last four major champions are noteworthy in part because of their passports. It’s the first time since the Masters began in 1934 that four non-American players have won golf’s four biggest events.

It’s also worth paying attention to their birth certificates.

The old man in the group is Graeme McDowell, who was 30 when he won the U.S. Open last summer at Pebble Beach. The last three major champions were all in their 20s – Louis Oosthuizen (27), Martin Kaymer (25) and Charl Schwartzel (26).

It’s the first time since 1997 that three straight major champions were in their 20s, when Tiger Woods won the Masters at 21, Ernie Els won his second U.S. Open at 27 and Justin Leonard won the British Open at 25.

“It’s a bright future, obviously,” said Jason Day, the 23-year-old Australian who tied for second at Augusta. “There’s a lot of good, solid young players coming up now, and it seems every year, they are getting younger.”

Whether the last four majors represent a changing of the guard remains to be seen. Woods showed signs that his game was improving with his tie for fourth at the Masters, while Phil Mickelson won a week earlier at the Houston Open.

The fact the last four major champions captured a Grand Slam event for the first time – the longest streak of first-time major winners in seven years – shows how tough it is to win.

“When Tiger came along, he pretty much changed the game,” Day said. “Everyone turned into athletes. We’re not flag slobs anymore. He has pretty much changed the game for the good.”


NELSON HONORED: Three-time major champion Larry Nelson, who didn’t take up golf until he returned from the Vietnam War, will receive the PGA Distinguished Service Award.

Nelson, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will be honored Aug. 10 during the PGA Championship. It’s being played at Atlanta Athletic Club, where 30 years ago Nelson won his first major at the PGA. He also won the 1987 PGA Championship at PGA National, and the 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

He also played on three Ryder Cup teams, and went 5-0 as a rookie in 1979 at The Greenbrier.

“It’s quite an honor, and I’m very humbled by it,” Nelson said. “I have been very blessed in my career, and have been fortunate that golf has allowed me to meet many around the world, develop special friendship and serve others.”

What made Nelson such an inspiration was his late start in the game. He spent two years in Vietnam with the Army, and didn’t start playing golf until he was out of the service. He read Ben Hogan’s book, “The Five Fundamentals of Golf,” broke 100 the first time he played and broke 70 for the first time within nine months.

“Larry Nelson is one of golf’s consummate champions, who performed at the highest level on many of the game’s grandest stages and has carried himself with dignity and grace to become one of the sport’s most respected ambassadors,” PGA of America president Allen Wronowski said.

The PGA Distinguished Service Award, which began in 1988, honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf.


ASIAN TOUR ON TV: The Asian Tour has reached broadcasting agreements with Golf Channel that will shows its tournaments in North America, Latin America and Japan.

The addition of those territories will bring the Asian Tour’s dedicated TV programming to 130 countries and more than 420 million households around the world.

“The standard of the Asian Tour has increasingly grown over the years, and we look forward to giving golf fans in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Japan the opportunity to watch Asia’s elite golfers,” Asian Tour chairman Kyi Hla Han said.


ON A ROLL: Camilo Villegas isn’t off a very good start this year. His best finish in nine tournaments is a tie for 35th in the Cadillac Championship. He has missed three cuts, been disqualified from one tournament and withdrew from another.

After starting the year at No. 37 in the world, he already has fallen to No. 50.

Put him in a major championship, though, and the Colombian seems to manage.

Even though he finished last at the Masters, Villegas made the cut for the 12th consecutive major, the longest current streak of those who have played them all. Phil Mickelson has a streak of 13 successive cuts made, although he skipped the 2009 British Open after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.


U.S. OPEN ODDS: A breathtaking Masters was not even a day old when bookies began compiling odds for the next major.

One website,, has Tiger Woods listed as a 6-to-1 favorite for the U.S. Open, which is still 10 weeks away at Congressional. Woods tied for 19th in the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional, although he won the AT&T National there two years ago.

Phil Mickelson is the second choice at 10-to-1. Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy were listed at 16-to-1, followed by world No. 1 Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald at 20-to-1.

Winning the Masters has only made Charl Schwartzel a 33-to-1 favorite. Those are the same odds for defending champion Graeme McDowell, who missed the cut at the Masters.


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods has finished no worse than sixth in his last seven trips to the Masters. … Lee Westwood (No. 2) and Ernie Els (No. 14) are the only players in the top 20 in the world who have yet to record a top-10 finish this year. … Rory McIlroy was praised for the gracious manner in which he handled his final-round 80. The 21-year-old continued to show class when he posed for a photo with Charl Schwartzel in the green jacket on their flight to Malaysia. He posted it on Twitter and said, “Glad one of us has a green jacket on!!!” … The top five players who have earned the most world ranking points through the Masters are Schwartzel, Luke Donald, Nick Watney, Martin Kaymer and Mark Wilson. … With his tie for fourth in the Masters, Tiger Woods is leading the U.S. Ryder Cup points list for 2012.


STAT OF THE WEEK: In the last three majors, Rory McIlroy has shot par or better in all but two rounds. The exceptions were an 80 at St. Andrews and the same at Augusta National.


FINAL WORD: “I didn’t think I was going to put on a green jacket before him.” – Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on Ernie Els. Schwartzel was a toddler when his father and Els won a club competition in South Africa.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

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.