Players Could Expect Shootout in Houston

By Associated PressMarch 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Shell Houston OpenHUMBLE, Texas -- Stuart Appleby set a course record in the first round, broke 70 on all four days and finished 19-under-par to win last year's Houston Open.
He thinks he'll have to go even lower to lift the crystal trophy this time.
The Houston Open is back at the Tournament Course at Redstone that drew mixed reviews from the players in its debut a year ago.
The tournament was moved from late April to the week before the Masters and organizers have tried to mimic the conditions at Augusta, speeding up the greens, trimming the rough and shaving down slopes around water hazards.
However, unless a stiff south Texas breeze blows all weekend, Appleby thinks the tournament will look more like the Las Vegas Invitational than a major championship.
'If this course stays soft, it will be very easy, which is not Augusta,' said Appleby, who hasn't won since last year's event. 'If it plays firm, fast and windy, it will make us think more Augusta thoughts.'
Tournament officials were hoping the new date and their attempts to mirror Augusta would draw an A-list field.
Instead, most of the top players bypassed Houston and headed straight to the real thing, while the Houston Open was once again left without stars such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and, now, even three-time champion Vijay Singh.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said the Houston Open was chosen as the event before Masters week because of the course's similarities to Augusta. It's slotted as the Masters warmup through 2012 and Finchem expects the fields to get better as word gets out about the quality of the course.
'It's going to take another year or two for the impact of the golf course to sink in,' Finchem said.
Though many of the big names stayed away, the new date lured many of the international players who'll play at Augusta. Former Masters champions Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer are here, along with Argentinian Angel Cabrera, Irishman Padraig Harrington and Englishman Lee Westwood.
The highest ranked player in this week's field is Adam Scott, who's trying to become the sixth Australian to win in Houston. Along with Appleby, and Bruce Devlin, Bruce Crampton, David Graham and Robert Allenby have also won the event.
Like Appleby, Scott thinks the Tournament Course is there for the taking this week. He projected the winning score at 20-under or better.
'I think there are going to be a lot of birdies this week,' Scott said. 'The wind is the only thing preventing it. But still, even if it's windy, it's going to be 20-under, something like that.'
Appleby would still take the score he had last year. He missed two cuts this year and his best finish was a tie for 13th at Kapalua, where he's won three times.
'I haven't played any good all year,' Appleby said. 'I haven't moved with the herd, you know? Stuck out of the back with the dog nipping at my heels. I've got to get moving some.'
While the Houston Open was the highlight of Appleby's 2006, it kick-started Steve Stricker's campaign.
Stricker played only three tournaments before finishing third in Houston last year. He rode the momentum to top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship and finished the year with $1.8 million in earnings, a career high.
'I just started feeling some good things in my swing,' Stricker said. 'I was working hard at home and feeling those good things and finally, I started to see it in some of the tournaments I was playing. It just kind of steamrolled.'
Stricker and Appleby were two of 53 players to finish under par last year.
Course architect Rees Jones, who oversaw the changes, hopes the Tournament course isn't too easy. He said the alterations were done to force players to make more creative shots -- like the ones they'll face at Augusta.
'They're going to have to lob shots or pitch shots into slopes,' Jones said. 'They'll have a lot of options.'
Like Finchem, Jones said he hopes the majority of players will eventually embrace the Redstone course.
'When they play it, they're going to talk to one another, about how they liked it,' Jones said. 'And then, more will play it and more will come. The word will get out.'
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    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

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    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

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    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

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    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

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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.