Open poised to produce another surprising champ

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2010, 2:05 am

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The last test for Louis Oosthuizen was his second shot to the 17th green at St. Andrews, where the pin was planted perilously behind the Road Hole bunker.

He safely sent his 5-iron through the green and onto the 18th tee, where it stopped about six feet away from where Paul Casey was about to hit. Lee Westwood walked over to the ball and acted as though he was going to smash it back at Oosthuizen.

Even that might not have stopped him Saturday in the British Open.

Oosthuizen opened with a nervous bogey, then settled down quickly on another windswept afternoon for a 3-under 69 that gave him a four-shot lead over Casey and a chance to become the first player in 46 years to win his first major at the home of golf.

Ernie Els called him Saturday morning to wish him and well. Gary Player left him a message at his hotel. Maybe it’s time for the 27-year-old Oosthuizen to start thinking he could be the next South African with a claret jug.

“I don’t think anyone was thinking I was going to be up there,” Oosthuizen said. “You’ve heard yourself, no one can actually say my surname, so they don’t even know who I am out there. It’s great being up there. I just want to enjoy everything about it. I loved it out there. It was great fun for me. And hopefully, tomorrow will be the same.”

Oosthuizen (WUHST-hy-zen) was at 15-under 201. A victory Sunday would make him the first player since Tony Lema in 1964 to win his first major at St. Andrews.

“The Open at St. Andrews would be something special,” Oosthuizen said. “It’s one of those things you dream of.”

Casey went out in 31 when the wind was at its strongest, and mostly into his face. He finished off a bogey-free round of 67 that puts him in the final group of a major for the first time. He was at 11-under 205.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen carries a 4-shot lead into the final round at the Open Championship. (Getty Images)

It might be a two-man race between players who have never seriously challenged in a major.

Oosthuizen was seven shots clear of Martin Kaymer of Germany, who had a 68 and was alone in third. Another shot behind – and eight shots out of the lead – were Henrik Stenson (67), Alejandro Canizares (71) and Westwood (71), who didn’t make a birdie on the front nine but did well to at least stay in the game.

Americans have won six of the last eight Opens at St. Andrews, but they have disappeared in this one. Dustin Johnson birdied his last two holes for a 69 and was nine shots behind.

Tiger Woods, who won the last two times at St. Andrews by a combined 13 shots, has never been within four shots of the lead all week, and he wasn’t even close Saturday. He had four long eagle putts – only one of them on a par 5 – and three-putted for par on three of them to shoot 73. He was 12 shots behind, sure to match his longest start to the season without a victory in his seventh tournament.

“I’m playing better than my position,” said Woods, who was tied for 18th. “I certainly have had a lot more putts on the greens that I ever have, and that’s something that has basically kept me out of being in the final few groups.”

Phil Mickelson, who had a chance at the start of the week to go to No. 1 in the world, was another shot behind. Whatever momentum he had was lost with a 5-iron that he hooked out-of-bounds for a double bogey on No. 16 for a 70.

The South African heritage at golf’s oldest championship dates to Bobby Locke winning four times in a nine-year stretch after World War II. Player won the claret jug three times, and Els was the most recent in 2002.

Oosthuizen, whose career was made possible by the Ernie Els Foundation at Fancourt, recalls watching highlights of the Big Easy’s tough win at Muirfield and getting goosebumps.

All he felt on the first hole Saturday were nerves.

He had to wait 28 hours from his last putt on Friday to his opening shot Saturday – “It felt like a week-and-a-half,” he said – and Oosthuizen promptly three-putted for bogey as his lead shrunk to two shots. Considering it was only the second time he made it to the weekend at a major, it looked as though it wouldn’t be long before he wilted from the pressure.

Instead, he eased his way along the humps and mounds, flashing that gap-tooth smile and following Els’ advice to enjoy himself. Oosthuizen picked up his first birdie on the seventh hole, then added a surprise birdie late in his round with a 60-foot putt.

Even with a four-shot lead – the largest 54-hole lead in the Open since Woods led by six shots in 2000 – the real test comes Sunday.

“I’m loving the fact I’m playing absolutely great golf and I’m four shots being Louis,” Casey said.

Casey ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch early in his round, and he got as close as one-shot with a two-putt birdie on the ninth. But he had to settle for nothing better than par on the back nine, missing a 5-foot birdie on the 18th.

“I’m having a great time, and I’m going to go out there tomorrow and enjoy myself and have a good attitude,” Casey said. “I know what this golf course can do. It can give you some great moments, and it can give you some horrible ones.”

A few weird moments, too.

Miguel Angel Jimenez added another highlight to the infamous Road Hole when he turned his back on the green and banged a shot off the waist-high wall, where it caromed back over the road, up a slope and onto the green.

Mark Calcavecchia wound up with a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 fifth hole when he hit into a gorse bush, played a provisional for a lost ball, picked up his provision shot when he heard the ball was found, then learned that the ball wasn’t his. That explains his 77, which sent the 50-year-old tumbling down the leaderboard.

Woods also hit into the gorse for a bogey on the fifth. On the next hole, he hit a low shot to the front of the green for a birdie chance, but the wind blew it some 20 yards back into the fairway before he got there.

Moments like those might be enough to give Westwood hope.

Johnson had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open and shot 82. The largest comeback in British Open history is 10 shots by Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie, but that required a debacle by Jean Van de Velde on the last hole.

“Strange things have been happening this week,” Westwood said. “It can be done – we know that. It depends on the weather. If it’s a miserable, windy day, anything can happen. But Louis and Paul look like they are playing well.”

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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.

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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.