Tiger thinking his way around a short course

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2009, 6:57 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Tiger Woods had a stiff breeze at his back as hestood on the 13th tee, his hand resting on the cover of his driver as hecontemplated how to navigate the 354 yards to the green.

With his brawn, Woods could hit driver close to the green, maybe onto theputting surface, for an easy birdie.

He chose to use his brain.

Woods pulled out the 3-iron and hit another ball down the middle of thefairway. It’s a shot the fans have been used to seeing over the first two daysof the Australian Masters, where the world’s No. 1 player has opened with roundsof 66-68 to build a three-shot lead.

Why not go for it? The pin was on the front half of the green, and Woodsknew it would be a difficult pitch.

“If the pin was in the back part of the green, I would have probably hitdriver and gotten it down there, because then you have the entire green to pitchup,” he said.

He hit wedge to about 8 feet and missed the putt. On the same hole, RodPampling hit driver to about 40 yards short of the green and pitched the ballthrough the green and into the back bunker. He had to scramble for par. That wasall the evidence Woods needed that he made the right choice.

Such are the holes that make Woods enjoy a track like Kingston Heath, whichhad 7,059 yards is the shortest he has played all year. He has won at TorreyPines and Firestone more than any other courses in the world, and both areconsidered beasts.

Kingston Heath is for managing the game, not mashing the ball.

“I think it’s great,” Woods said. “I’ve certainly always enjoyed playinggolf courses where you have to think and plod your way along. As I said earlier,you don’t need a golf course of 7,500 yards for it to be difficult. With some ofthe angles you have out here, you can hit a lot of drivers and 3-woods and getthe ball down there, but there’s a price.

“If you miss the ball on the wrong side, it’s going to run into bushes orbunkers where it’s unplayable,” he said. “If you do lay it back, then you havepretty tough iron shots. There’s plenty of options out there. You just have topick one and go with it.”

It has been reminiscent of Royal Liverpool, where Woods chose to hit driveronly once over 72 holes on his way to victory in the 2006 British Open. And itis not unlike Muirfield Village this year, where the fairways were fast underhot weather, and Woods only occasionally hit driver off the tee and rallied fora four-shot victory.

He has hit driver five times each round at Kingston Heath, only whennecessary—either into the wind on a long par 4, or a par 5 where bunkers can’tbe reached, or on the ninth when he can take the fairway bunkers out of play.

That’s what he did Friday, and while he missed three birdie putts inside 10feet and twice had to hole tough putts for par, he doesn’t look as though he’sabout to give anyone much help.

Woods was at 10-under 134 and in the final group with Jason Dufner , theunheralded American who shot 67 and was three shots behind along with GregChalmers (69) and James Nitties (71) of Australia.

Woods hasn’t been perfect, and didn’t feel as though he hit the ball cleanlyin the second round. Even so, he said he has yet to miss a shot in the wrongspot, which would make it difficult to save par.

Kingston Heath began to show a different personality. The course wasrelatively soft on Thursday, mainly because of the forecast for sunshinethroughout the week. It was faster on Friday, the ball bouncing onto the greensinstead of spinning back.

“I know it’s going to get drier and drier as we go along,” Woods said.“I’m going to have to hit the ball really well, and on top of that, manage thegame well on these greens because they are going to start to get a little morespring to them.”

One of the Australians asked Woods where Kingston Heath would rate if itwere in America and received more publicity. He couldn’t answer the question,and not because he shies away from ranking anything.

“It would be hard to get it to stay this dry in America,” he said.“Because in America, they think green is perfect conditions for a golf course.Everyone tries to make the golf courses look like Augusta by soaking it. Whenyou do that, you make it softer, and you make it easier for us. So when you dothat, you have to make the golf courses longer.”

Chalmers was asked if Woods was tougher to beat on a course suited for bighitters, or on a course where thinking is required.

The Australian only smiled.

“Can you find any venue that he’s been to that he hasn’t had a greatadvantage?” Chalmers said. “He’s got power, and he’s got a great mental gameand a great short game. We could talk all day about how great he is. He’s divinginto a very deep talent pool. Unfortunately, my end is not as deep. But I’mhoping I can find the bottom.”

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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.