Tom Watson practices Wednesday at Crooked Stick

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
CARMEL, Ind. ' Fuzzy Zoeller recites his winning philosophy like its on speed dial.
 
Or perhaps he just remembers Crooked Sticks history.
 
The 1979 Masters winner contends it will take someone who can hit long, accurate drives and repeatedly find the proper placements on these sloping greens to win this years U.S. Senior Open title. Someone like John Daly, who zoomed into the spotlight with his grip-it-and-rip-it strategy at the 1991 PGA Championship here. Someone like big-hitting 17-year-old Maria Uribe, who won the 2007 U.S. Womens Amateur here.
 
Now, the senior tour is looking to add another chapter on the longest course in Senior Open history at 7,316 yards.
 
The only thing that scared me was when (course designer) Pete Dye got up and said he had stretched the golf course out to 7,306 or something, Zoeller said. I had to speak right after him and I said, Oh, Pete, Pete, youre losing the fact that were over 50 years old. Were trying to bring it back to us so we can have some fun.
 
The USGA didnt do Zoeller and the other 155 players expected to start Thursdays first round any favors like shortening the course. It could be argued that it wouldnt have been necessary, especially after 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly beat the youngsters at the British Open two weeks ago.
 
The bad news: 7,316 yards could be the short end.
 
With forecasters calling for rain into Thursday afternoon, weather could certainly make the course play longer. Zoeller, a local favorite who lives about 120 miles away, noted that his second practice round Tuesday, in warmer conditions than Monday, seemed to shorten things up just a bit.
 
Who will contend?
 
Defending champion Eduardo Romero of Argentina survived a tough back nine last year and returns with more knowledge about coping with nerves on Sunday afternoons. He ranks seventh on the tour this season with an average drive of 288.4 yards, a number that could keep him near the top of the leaderboard this weekend.
 
I think its very important, very important to have a few extra yards this week, Romero said. But I think the course is a fantastic course from the tee to the green. I have to play chip good, putting good, then you have to be full game in good condition.
 
Watson could be there, too. He is playing his best golf in more than a decade and comes to Carmel as the sentimental favorite, if not the overall favorite, after missing an 8-foot putt on No. 18 for the win at Turnberry two weeks ago. He lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink, then rallied to finish in the top 10 last weekend at the Senior British Open.
 
As he prepares for his third major in three weeks, Watson made an adjustment to his short game that he hopes will help claim his first Senior Open title. But Watson also is dealing with an illness that forced him to skip Tuesdays practice round.
 
The biggest concern I have is preparedness, he said. Its going to be difficult for me to be properly prepared for this tournament. Ill probably play somewhat conservatively opening it up, you know, not knowing the golf course so well and watch my fellow players play.
 
Among the other big names in the field are two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer and two-time British Open winner Greg Norman.
 
Langer, 51, has the best scoring average on tour this season (68.65) and ranks in the top 10 in driving distance and No. 1 in greens in regulation (76.85 percent) ' a combination that could make him a real threat.
 
Norman spent last weekend battling in Britain. The 54-year-old led after three rounds but opened the final round by missing birdie chances on the first three holes and then settling for a double bogey on No. 17 to finish sixth, three strokes behind champion Loren Roberts.
 
I feel my game is fairly solid, actually, Norman said. I have no complaints at the moment. Im just a little bit like anybody would say coming off playing golf in Europe for two weeks then getting over here, its bit of a slug on us. But it is what it is.
 
Yes, Norman, Zoeller and Watson all remember how Daly won at Crooked Stick and realize this weekend could be a hitters paradise.
 
Its a long-ball hitters golf-course, always has been. I think if youre driving the ball well and youre a long hitter, you should fare fairly well this week, Zoeller said. But theres one thing about winning an Open, or a British Open, youve got to have patience galore because some crazy things are going to happen and youve just got to bear it. Its going to be a long week.
 
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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.