Villegas, Toms share lead at Humana

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2012, 11:50 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – A little extra time off this winter left David Toms and Camilo Villegas feeling fresh for the Humana Challenge.

Toms and Villegas shot 9-under 63 to top a leaderboard dotted with impressive scores in the opening round Thursday.

Ted Potter Jr., Sang-Moon Bae, Brandt Snedeker and Bob Estes were one stroke behind in postcard-perfect weather on the pro-am tournament’s three generous Palm Springs-area courses.

Villegas and Toms both played bogey-free at the erstwhile Bob Hope Classic, which has dropped one day of its traditional five-round format this year.

After playing on the winning U.S. team in the Presidents Cup, Toms passed on a hard-to-get spot in the lucrative Chevron World Challenge in December to spend extra time with his family. He shook off an unimpressive start to the new season in Hawaii with excellent play alongside Presidents Cup teammate Phil Mickelson at La Quinta Country Club, which features the tournament’s toughest course.

Toms also got a boost playing alongside Mickelson, who struggled to a 74. Toms made a 30-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole right after Mickelson holed an eagle putt, ratcheting up the energy in an often staid tournament.

“That’s probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever had playing golf here,” Toms said. “It was nice to play a good round and have people energized and out there cheering for your birdies.”

Villegas recovered from his disappointing 2011 with an extended break in his native Colombia and Florida. In his tournament debut, he made nine birdies in his first crack at the Nicklaus Private course, coasting through a round he could barely recall after he finished it.

“You feel that you’re a little rusty, but at the same time, you’re mentally fresh,” said Villegas, a three-time PGA Tour winner. “It’s a funny game. Sometimes being mentally fresh is more important.”

The Humana Challenge has been invigorated by multiple changes including its new title sponsor, an increased purse and a partnership with the Clinton Foundation to promote healthy lifestyles. Bill Clinton, who will play alongside old friend Greg Norman on Saturday, showed up to the event Thursday.

Enthusiastic crowds also showed up in the Coachella Valley to cheer on an improved field including Mickelson, defending champion Jhonattan Vegas and world No. 8 Dustin Johnson, who matched Norman at 72 in the Shark’s first Palm Springs appearance since 1986.

Toms and Villegas aren’t the only players using the week to round into form for bigger challenges ahead. Rough spots in their games are more easily fixed in Palm Springs’ perfect weather—although rain could be headed to the valley for the weekend.

“Nothing really worked,” Norman said after his first PGA Tour start since 2009. “It was just pure rust, that’s all it was. Just rusty, rusty, rusty.”

Potter made five consecutive birdies after the turn in his round, while the 45-year-old Estes, who hasn’t won since 2002, finished with consecutive birdies to move into a third-place tie.

Another change to the tournament was an immediate hit with the pros: Instead of playing with three amateur partners in each of the first four rounds, two pros are teaming with two players, which makes for more fun.

“I’ve looked at the pairings, and I can tell that a lot of guys are playing with their friends and other golfers, the guys that are close,” said Toms, who counts Mickelson as a close friend.

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.