Tiger Enjoys Meet and Greet with Oakmont

By Associated PressApril 23, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Tiger Woods finally visited the famous 'Church Pew' bunkers at Oakmont, but only to pose for a picture.
 
Birdies were rare, but the greens were still bumpy from being covered in snow only a week ago. And with a 15 mph gust in his face as he stood on the 288-yard eighth hole, he was resigned to breaking his self-imposed rule never to hit driver on a par 3. Stubborn as always, he stuck with a 3-wood that he hit as hard as he could, satisfied when it stopped 25 feet from the hole.
 
Woods spent the last two days at Oakmont, the premiere championship golf course in America that had been somewhat of a mystery to him. He didn't qualify for his first U.S. Open until the year after Ernie Els won at Oakmont in 1994, so this had been a course Woods only knew from newspaper clippings and television highlights.
 
'I like it,' he said. 'I can't recall many golf courses where you don't see the fairway and green on the same hole. Maybe at St. Andrews, but that's about it.'
 
Monday also turned into quite a mystery for the 82 people who didn't know they would get to tag along.
 
They were American Express card members who paid $900 for an event called '2007 U.S. Open Preview Day,' not realizing that it would include more than a round of golf and free lunch until Woods entered the room from a back door to stunned silence, followed by high-fives and then a standing ovation.
 
They were told they would get a seminar on how to prepare for a U.S. Open.
 
They had no idea their instructor would be the world's No. 1 player, with ABC Sports anchor Mike Tirico as the emcee.
 
'I hope you guys didn't get slaughtered out there,' Woods told them before inviting them along for his third and final practice round.
 
For guys like Victor Novak, it got even better.
 
Novak missed out on the lottery to buy tickets for the U.S. Open, to be played June 14-17 for a record eighth time at Oakmont. So when American Express offered its Platinum and Century members a chance to spend a day at Oakmont, he signed up quickly.
 
He shot 93 in the morning. And he caddied for Woods for one hole in the afternoon.
 
'This is like dying and going to heaven,' Novak said. 'I'd like you guys to send the tape of this if you could. Because my wife won't believe me. My friends won't believe me. Nobody will believe this.'
 
Jerry Cohen figured a great day would turn miserable when the airline lost his clubs, but Oakmont arranged for a set of rentals and he took a beating on one of the toughest courses in America, as almost everyone does at Oakmont.
 
Turns out he wasn't done playing.
 
Woods hit a stinger 3-iron on the 428-yard third hole with a slight breeze at his back, making sure he stayed out of the 'Church Pew' bunkers that separate the third and fourth fairways, long strips of grass in the sand that look like benches.
 
'Can you hit one from the Church Pews?' someone said to him.
 
'No,' Woods replied with a grin.
 
'Will you teach us how?' the man said.
 
'How to play out of it? You hit it right here,' Woods said, pointing to the short grass in the fairway. 'I go crazy when I watch guys in practice round play shots from a drop area. Why bring negativity into your thoughts? I only practice from where I expect to play.'
 
He finally relented, going into the bunker and saying, 'OK, I'm here,' smiling for pictures. Before leaving, though, he asked Cohen to take a shot out of the sand, and it was the most nerve-racking shot he hit all day.
 
'Unbelievable,' Cohen said. 'I had no idea I would get this kind of experiences. Our caddies told us that Tiger was out here playing yesterday, and there was a rumor he might come back and play in the afternoon. I thought I might try to sneak a peek from out on the veranda. But this is like living a dream.'
 
American Express in November became the first corporate partner in the USGA's 112-year history. The organization later signed a corporate deal with Lexus.
 
Woods invited unlimited questions as he walked the fairways and greens, at one point asking the security detail to drop the hand-held ropes so the customers could get closer. He told them the yardages he had left to the green, and why the yardage to the front of the green was most important at a U.S. Open with its typically firm surfaces.
 
Oakmont will play as long as 7,257 yards as a par 71, but it has at least two par 4s in which some players will try to drive the green. One of them is the 341-yard second hole, although Woods didn't bother. He took 4-iron.
 
'Remember the 4-iron I snapped at the Masters? I had it fixed,' he said.
 
Woods tried to punch out from behind a tree on the 11th hole Sunday at Augusta National, slamming the club into the trunk of the pine immediately after hitting the ball, the shaft breaking in half.
 
Why not go for the green?
 
'I could probably, maybe ... but what's the point?' he said. 'You try to make birdie when you can at the U.S. Open. But the whole idea is to try to avoid making bogey.'
 
He was asked later if any of the players at the U.S. Open might try to drive the green.
 
'I hope so,' Woods said, showing a little more insight into how he plans to play the course.
 
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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.