Top Golfers Vie for $6 Million at Match Play

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2003, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The Accenture Match Play Championship, golf's version of March Madness, arrives this week at La Costa Resort, where the top 64 players available from the world rankings try to advance through the brackets in a $6 million free-for-all.
 
And just like the NCAA tournament, anyone can be upset.
 
Tiger Woods found that out last year when he became the first No. 1 seed to go home after one round, losing to Peter O'Malley of Australia. Woods has reached the finals only once in the three years he has played.
 
``You can't put yourself behind the 8-ball in match play, especially against these guys,'' Woods said. ``The quality of play now is so high that it's difficult to come back.''
 
Woods faces Carl Pettersson in the first round this year.
 
Only the final match is 36 holes, considered to be the true test of match play.
 
The rest of the tournament is five rounds of Phil Mickelson against Phillip Price. Mickelson lost to Price, No. 119 in the world, in a pivotal match at The Belfry that enabled Europe to win the Ryder Cup.
 
``Anything can happen,'' Woods said. ``The best player doesn't always win an 18-hole match. It's been proven, and always will be proven in match play.
 
Woods again is the No. 1 seed and will play Wednesday against Pettersson, who only found out Sunday that he got into the field because Vijay Singh withdrew with a rib injury.
 
``It's an opportunity for me,'' said Pettersson, a Swede who went to North Carolina State and was the first-round leader at the British Open last year.
 
He's no longshot. A year ago at La Costa, the top three seeds were eliminated in the first round.
 
Pettersson got into position to be an alternate when he finished runner-up to Woods by four shots at the Buick Invitational two weeks ago.
 
When the pairings were finalized Monday evening, the other top seeds were Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen.
 
Els, who has won four of his five tournaments worldwide this year, will play Phil Tataurangi of New Zealand in the first round. Mickelson plays Robert Karlsson, while Goosen takes on Jay Haas.
 
The PGA Tour has changed the presentation of the brackets. Instead of No. 1 seed against the No. 64 seed, it has named each bracket after four players ' Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Sam Snead.
 
None of that matters.
 
The defending champion is Kevin Sutherland, who was the No. 62 seed last year when he knocked off David Duval and everyone else on his way to a stunning victory. The year before, Steve Stricker won as the 55th seed.
 
The highest-ranked seed to win was Darren Clarke (No. 19) in 2000 when he beat Woods.
 
Among the interesting first-round matches is Justin Leonard plays Jose Maria Olazabal. Leonard rallied from 4-down and clinched the 1999 Ryder Cup for the United States when he rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at The Country Club.

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.