Watson wins Senior PGA Championship

By Associated PressMay 30, 2011, 2:20 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tom Watson had stood over putts like this pressure-packed 3-footer at the Senior PGA Championship for most of his adult life.

Why dawdle?

“I didn’t take much time with the putt,” he said with that famous toothy grin. “I took one practice stroke and figured, ‘Let’s get this over with.”’

Watson summoned up some of his old major magic, holing the short birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat David Eger on Sunday.

The 61-year-old Watson, down a shot with four holes left in regulation, became the oldest player to win a major since the senior tour was created in 1980. He also became the second-oldest winner of the Senior PGA, behind only Jock Hutchison who was 62 in 1947.

“If this is the last tournament I ever win, it’s not a bad one,” Watson said. “I’m kind of on borrowed time out here at 61.”

Watson became the third-oldest winner of a Champions Tour event. The victory came 10 years, 2 days after he won his other Senior PGA Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in 2001.

Watson may be well past his prime, but there have been very few players in history as good at sealing the deal with the outcome teetering on the brink.

Few realize that more than Eger, who worked closely with Watson and the other giants of the game in the 1980s and 1990s as a rules official.

“I watched a lot of Trevino, Watson, Irwin – a lot of great players from the golf cart,” he said. “And I got to really appreciate just how good they were – and they still are.”

Watson closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 10-under 278 and capture his 14th career major, six since turning 50 to go with five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open.

“Coming into the tournament I really didn’t give myself any chance based on the way I was practicing last week in Kansas City,” he said. “But the light switch went on.”

A club rep pointed out a subtle change in his swing. From there, it was bad news for the rest of the field.

“Lo and behold, I started making good swings again,” he said, as if he were surprised.

Perhaps better known as a rules official than as a player, Eger closed with a 67.

Both Eger and Watson missed short birdie putts on the 72nd green that would have won for either in regulation, Eger pulling a 6-footer and Watson pushing one from 4 feet.

Watson went for the green with his rescue-club second shot on the playoff hole, the 18th, but it came up short and in the deep and gaping bunker that fronts the green.

“If it went into the bunker, that was just where I wanted to be,” he said.

Eger caught a bad break when his drive came to rest in a grassy finger on the edge of a large bunker along the left side of the fairway. He hit a layup and then a wedge to 10 feet, but missed the birdie attempt.

“I hit a pretty good third shot up there,” Eger said. “I thought I hit a really good putt. It just was not good enough.”

Taking little time after blasting out of the sand to 3 feet, Watson calmly stroked in the winner while the large gallery at Valhalla Golf Club cheered and applauded.

Kiyoshi Murota, who had at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, closed with a 72 and was alone in third, a shot out of the playoff.

He had promised he would play “Murota golf” in the final round.

“I played my Murota golf to the best of my ability,” he said through an interpreter. “However, my putting left something to be desired.”

Five days before he turns 66, four-time Senior PGA winner Hale Irwin had a double bogey and two bogeys in a 73 that left him at 8 under.

Eduardo Romero (68), the benefactor of a lucky bounce off the rocks that turned a bogey into a birdie at the 13th hole, and Peter Senior (69) were at 7 under. Nick Price shot a 72 and finished another stroke back.

The 59-year-old Eger has played the Champions Tour full-time for a decade. But he’s perhaps best known as a top rules official for the PGA Tour and U.S. Golf Association from 1982-95. He never finished better than a tie for fifth in 75 PGA Tour starts between 1979 and 1981. He regained his amateur status and was a three-time Walker Cup player during his days as a golf administrator. Since turning pro at 50, he has won four times on the Champions Tour, including this year’s Liberty Mutual Legends.

The leader changed every few minutes in the final round.

Eger grabbed the top spot by rolling in a short birdie putt at the 15th. But he turned right around and gave it back on the next hole when his approach came up short of the green and he made bogey.

An instant later, Watson stroked in an 18-footer for birdie from the first cut behind the 15th green to go up by a shot.

Eger responded with a 7-foot birdie putt at the uphill 16th to even things up once again.

First Eger and then Watson missed easy birdie putts that would have given them a win, and then they headed for the extra hole.

Watson seemed stupefied to find himself with the crystal trophy and the $360,000 first-place check at the end.

“Wow. Winning again at 61,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t think it’s an age thing but, God, I’ve been out here a long time.”

And he’s been winning all along.

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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.