With Tiger out, all bets are off at Congressional

By Associated PressJune 8, 2011, 12:15 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As far as William Hill is concerned, all bets are off.

At least when it comes to Tiger Woods and the U.S. Open.

Not long after Woods decided to sit out the next major and rest his ailing left leg, the British bookmaker announced Tuesday it was refunding all wagers that had been placed on Woods at Congressional.

The joint favorites now are Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson at 12-to-1. One of them is No. 1 in the world, the other one used to be No. 1 and the third is the most talented player of that bunch, with four majors and five runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open.

Without him,” Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said of Woods, “the field looks very open.”

Golf has looked like that just about every week over the last 18 months, even when Woods was playing.

There was some concern going into the start of the 2010 season – when Woods disappeared to try to repair a personal life that was in shambles – that golf was in deep trouble without its biggest star. But dating to his last win in November 2009 at the Australian Masters, a new generation of players is starting to emerge.

Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open last year, setting off a streak of four first-time major champions. Rory McIlroy won at Quail Hollow last year with a 62 in the final round, just two days before he turned 21. Matteo Manassero won his second European Tour event two days before his 18th birthday.

If not for being impatient at Pebble Beach and unaware he was in a bunker at Whistling Straits, 26-year-old Dustin Johnson might have won two majors last year. Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship at 25 and became the youngest player since Woods to be No. 1 in the world. Bubba Watson has won three times on the PGA Tour in the last year. Rickie Fowler was the first PGA Tour rookie to play in The Ryder Cup, where he birdied the last four holes.

The list is long.

And maybe the absence of Woods – if not from the game, from his game – has something to do with that.

Jim Furyk took exception to the notion that this latest crop of talent has more good players than the previous generation. Furyk came along in the era of Mickelson, Westwood, Ernie Els, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Darren Clarke. Not until they won majors or became No. 1 in the world did they get the same amount of attention as this generation because every conversation started with Tiger Woods.

As for what seems to be greater parity in golf?

“We’ve always had it,” Furyk said. “Take Tiger out of there, and it was an open ball game. If he doesn’t win 14 majors, it’s an open ball game. And now that he hasn’t been playing, it’s wide open.”

Imagine if Woods had never climbed down from a high chair and started swinging a golf club.

Donald joined some exclusive company when he won at Wentworth to become only the 15th player to be No. 1 in the 25 years of the world ranking. To put the achievement into perspective, 62 players have won majors since the world ranking began in April 1986.

That number is skewed, of course, because Woods has hogged the top spot for nearly 12 years. If not for Woods, turnover in the world ranking would not be unusual, and the hype over No. 1 might not have been so great.

Among those who would have been No. 1 if Woods were not around – Mickelson, Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, Davis Love III, Steve Stricker, Sergio Garcia and Mark O’Meara.

“It’s funny how people quickly categorize a player for winning one, two or three tournaments as a great player,” O’Meara said. “I don’t get that. I won 16 times, and I think I’m a good player, I’ve had a wonderful career for me. Where do you draw the line?”

Stewart Cink has been in Woods’ shadow since he was a teenager. He recalls one year being at a junior tournament, and when his round was over, he noticed his mother headed back onto the golf course because she wanted to watch Woods.

“Maybe he’s won so many tournaments that there were less available to win,” Cink said. “He was definitely the lightning rod of golf, and still is for different reasons. I think he set the standard higher, so that Jim, me or anyone in our age group, if we had the same career and you take away Tiger, we might have got more respect than we got.”

It looks as though a new generation is ready to take over because Woods is not around. Had his personal life and health crumbled five years ago, there might have been just as many players ready to thrive.

Remember, there was a time when Montgomerie said what made the majors so difficult to win is that Woods usually won two of them, Els, Singh and Mickelson captured another and that left only one major for everyone else.

Ten players have won the last 10 majors.

Three players have been No. 1 in the world over the last two months.

“It seems like there’s a huge transition going on, only because No. 1 is wide open,” Curtis Strange said. “We’re going to have that until Tiger comes back. There will be a revolving door for No. 1 in the world. But if Tiger came back tomorrow and played like he used to – or not even as good as he used to – he’d dominate this game. Will he do that? I don’t know.”

There were questions whether Woods could get his game back when he was playing. It’s even tougher to answer when he’s not.

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.