The Ohio Ace

By Associated PressJune 3, 2011, 10:55 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Steve Stricker had a hole-in-one on his 17th hole Friday in the Memorial to break out of a big pack and build a three-shot lead going into the weekend.

Stricker hit a 6-iron from 188 yards on the eighth hole for the second ace of his career. The other one came in the Phoenix Open in 1997 and earned him a car. All this gave him was a three-shot lead, which could eventually be even more valuable.

Stricker finished with a birdie for a 5-under 67 and was at 9-under 135.

“It’s a shock when you see that go in, obviously, but in a good way,” Stricker said. “A great way to finish the round.”

Rory McIlroy (72), Ricky Barnes (70), Jonathan Byrd (67) and the resurgent Rod Pampling of Australia - who lost his PGA Tour card last year and had a bogey-free 66 - were in a group tied for second.

McIlroy already has made 13 birdies over two rounds, proof enough that he’s swinging well and making his share of putts. He also has five bogeys and a sloppy double bogey Friday on the 14th hole, when he pulled his tee shot into the tiny stream left of the fairway and nearly went into the water on his next shot.

“I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s, but I just made too many mistakes out there,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy wasn’t alone in the good and bad of Muirfield Village.

Rickie Fowler, the runner-up at the Memorial last year, has only 12 pars in 36 holes. He was at 3-under 141, six shots behind but still very much in the hunt at the halfway points.

“The conditions are scoreable, but bogeys can creep up on you quickly,” Fowler said. “You can make some birdies, but if there’s a tough pin and you don’t hit the right shot, you’ll make bogeys. It’s a fine line.”

Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III was a great illustration of that. He had six birdies and an eagle and shot 73. Love also hit two into the water on the par-5 11th to make a triple bogey, then took a double bogey on the 17th along with four other bogeys.

Luke Donald, in his debut as the No. 1 player in the world, had another strong rally by finishing with back-to-back birdies for a 69 that left him at 5-under 139, still very much in the hunt. Donald has not finished out of the top 10 in nine straight tournaments.

“Some careless mistakes out there,” Donald said.

Stricker made his share, too, such as back-to-back bogeys from the bunker as he was finishing his front nine. But he played the final five holes in 5 under, highlighted by his second career hole-in-one.

He thrust his arms in the air when he realized it had dropped into the cup, but that’s about as excited as he gets about an ace. Some players keep the golf balls from the ace. Stricker teed it up on the ninth, made birdie, that gave the ball to the official keeping score without informing him where that ball had been lately.

His other ace came in the 1997 Phoenix Open on the 16th hole, the biggest party scene on tour. That was the hole - during the same year, no less -  when Tiger Woods made an ace and was showered with beer cans and plastic cups in one of the most raucous celebrations ever seen in this royal and ancient game. The replay has been shown countless times.

“You didn’t see mine that year? No?” Stricker said with a grin.

His came in the final round, and there’s a reason hardly anyone remembered. For one reason, not many saw it.

“That day, I had teed off the back nine first,” he said. “So there wasn’t a lot of people there.”

The good news for Stricker is the Phoenix Open awarded a car for a hole-in-one on the 16th, but only in the final round. So that’s one thing he got that Woods didn’t - just not for long.

“I used it for a little while, and then traded it in for a minivan,” said Stricker, whose first daughter was born a year later.

With so many wild scorecards, leave it to Phil Mickelson to have a conservative one. That’s not necessarily a good thing this week. Mickelson has made only five birdies against three bogeys through 36 holes, leaving seven shots behind.

“I need something good tomorrow,” Mickelson said. “I had a chance to shoot something in the 60s and move up the leaderboard and didn’t capitalize on a lot of opportunities.”

McIlroy pulled his opening tee shot and made bogey, but two other bogeys on the front came from the middle of the fairway, with a wedge in his hand for one shot and a 9-iron for another.

But he also looked like he’ll be a factor on the weekend with consecutive birdies, including a shot that he thought was headed to the back of the 13th green, only for it to settle 6 feet below the hole.

“I’m happy enough,” McIlroy said. “I’m thereabouts going into the weekend. There’s still a lot of golf left to play. I know that and everyone else knows that. I just need to limit those mistakes. If I can keep the silly bogeys off the card, I think I’ll be all right.”


Getty Images

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.

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 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.