Pressel Should Be the Exception to the Rule
By allowing Morgan Pressel to go through LPGA Tour qualifying before turning 18, the former commissioner gave her a six-month start on any other underage player who wanted to turn pro.
'If I had said no, she would have had to wait until 2007,' Votaw said Tuesday.
Herb Krickstein sees the glass as half-empty.
If the LPGA Tour felt his granddaughter was mature enough to go through Q-school, where she easily earned her card for 2006, then why isn't that enough for her to be treated like a regular member? Instead, Pressel must wait until she turns 18 on May 23 before her earnings count as official.
That puts her behind on the money list, qualifying for the new playoff system, and collecting points toward the Solheim Cup and rookie of the year.
'Everything they talk about to be an LPGA member, she has -- except her 18th birthday,' Krickstein said. 'And I don't think she's going to change when she turns 18.'
Her immediate future now lies with new commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who coincidentally will be in New York on Wednesday to preside over a one-day forum called, 'Phenoms to Professionals: Successful Transitions.'
Pressel's name is sure to come up, although she has company.
Michelle Wie signed multimillion endorsement deals a week before she turned 16. Wie, the biggest draw in women's golf, doesn't plan to join the LPGA Tour until she is 18, but she has been playing pro tournaments since she was 12, and has played at least eight times a year against the pros the last three years.
Paula Creamer went from high school to LPGA Tour rookie of the year.
And then there's Aree Song, who played in the final group of a major at age 13.
Votaw made an exception for Song two years ago, allowing her to join at age 17. Song had a great record as an amateur and had already graduated high school. Because the LPGA Tour didn't start until March, she would be 17 for only a few months. It made sense.
The decision looked even better when Song nearly won the Kraft Nabisco, finishing one shot behind when Grace Park birdied the last hole. Then, she celebrated her 18th birthday by taking the 54-hole lead in Atlanta. But she fell apart the next day with a 78, and hasn't come close to winning since then.
Did that affect Votaw's decision on Pressel?
'Every single case is looked upon as the individual circumstances that pertain to that person, while also comparing them to other decisions that have been made,' Votaw said. 'The only other person I had considered was Aree Song.'
A safe guess is that Votaw wanted to make sure that exceptions to the age limit were rare, protecting against a parade of teenagers who might come after Pressel. In other words, keep precedence to a minimum.
Krickstein first met with Votaw in June.
'I told him Morgan decided not to go to college, and we would like permission to go to Q-school and be a member of the LPGA,' Krickstein said. 'He said he would think about it. I said, 'What if she wins the U.S. Open?' And he laughed. He didn't snicker, but he laughed, and said we'll talk again.'
Krickstein paused for effect, then smiled in such a way that everyone knew this wasn't about ability.
'She didn't win,' he added.
No, but Pressel probably should have won the biggest tournament in women's golf. She was tied for the lead, her ball in the 18th fairway, when she watched Birdie Kim ahead of her hit a mediocre bunker shot that was running hot until the hole got in the way. It fell for birdie, and a most unlikely victory.
Pressel went on to win the U.S. Women's Amateur, along with the five biggest events on the junior circuit.
But then, talent was never part of this equation.
Votaw used Song as a reference, but he could just as easily have considered Jenny Chuasiriporn.
She was a 20-year-old amateur who holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 1998 U.S. Women's Open to force a playoff with Se Ri Pak, then lost the next day in 20 holes. Chuasiriporn never got her card, and now is out of the game. She was a one-week wonder, and there is no shortage of those.
Pressel has been turning heads since she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12, and every year she seems to get better. She plays a sharp draw, not the safest swing in golf, but has a knack for scoring that is better than the other teenagers. She plays with purpose on every shot, and David Duval sensed something different about her watching her play a few holes at Cherry Hills.
'She's the only one who thinks she can win this thing,' he said during the final round of the Women's Open. 'She's walking like, 'Hey, I'm the deal.' You know?'
Pressel might be the real deal.
If maturity is the only reason to keep her from becoming a full-fledged member, how much will she grow up between her first LPGA event as a pro in March and her 18th birthday in May?
The LPGA Tour did her a favor by letting her go through Q-school early. It could do her another one by letting the money count before she turns 18.
Pressel kept her opinions to herself after earning her card, saying only that she hoped the LPGA would change its mind and was confident it would do the right thing. She then was asked what Bivens should consider.
'Me, myself and my game,' Pressel said, 'and nobody else.'
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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.