Westwood back in Memphis to defend title

By Associated PressJune 8, 2011, 8:21 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Lee Westwood enjoys defending titles. So with the St. Jude Classic scheduled just before the U.S. Open, returning to the TPC Southwind course was a pretty easy decision.

“This was one of the first ones that went in,” Westwood said Wednesday. “It’s a priority for me to try to come and defend whenever I can, and I like to play the week before a major championship. I was fairly sure I was going to use this as one of my three invites.”

Westwood is limited each year on the number of PGA events he can play since the Englishman gave up his U.S. membership in 2008. But he said he’s only missed one chance to defend a title in about 35 opportunities, and that happened only because two tournaments were scheduled the same week.

So I’ve always tried to get back,” Westwood said.

He also likes the 7,239-yard, par-70 course as a tuneup for the U.S. Open. Count Westwood among those who like the mental tuneup of having to sink 3-foot putts. While the TPC Southwind course is different from Congressional, Westwood calls it a demanding test.

“It certainly demands that you hit the fairways and hit the greens, which is pretty much the blueprint for playing good U.S. Open golf as well,” Westwood said.

Nobody has successfully defended a PGA Tour title yet this year, Westwood will face a field featuring five of the world’s top 32 in Robert Karlsson, David Toms, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Zach Johnson.

Toms could be a big threat, having won here in 2003 and 2004. He also won Colonial late last month and was second at The Players and ranks second in greens in regulation and third in driving accuracy.

“I look forward to the challenge,” Toms said. “It’ll be tough to win this golf tournament with all the good players, and I’ve just got to go out there and play well and see how that stacks up.”

The field also includes Sergio Garcia, past champion Brian Gay, Padraig Harrington and Brandt Snedeker, who won The Heritage in April. Local favorite John Daly is here again too.

Considering the luck he had here a year ago, no wonder Westwood was determined to return.

Westwood had signed his card and was ready to leave a year ago when advised to stick around. Robert Garrigus blew a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole, and Westwood won his second PGA Tour title in a three-way playoff in what he called an amazing finish.

“Sometimes you don’t win tournaments you think you should have won, and sometimes you win tournaments that some other guy should have won,” Westwood said. “If you put yourself in the position often enough, that’s going to happen.”

Westwood went on to take the No. 1 ranking away from Tiger Woods, though he now ranks second to Luke Donald after losing a playoff in the European Tour’s PGA Championship. Westwood finished tied for 11th at The Masters and also has won the Indonesian Masters in April and in South Korea this year.

Garrigus responded well after melting down on the par-4 No. 18. He drove into the water and hit his third shot into the trees left that forced him to pitch out. He walked off the green with a triple-bogey 7 back to the 18th tee for a playoff with Westwood and Karlsson. He bogeyed the first hole to finish the collapse.

He credited Chris DiMarco among others with reminding him how hard he worked to get the lead. Then he went against all advice to avoid watching TV.

“Everybody was telling me not to watch The Golf Channel and not to watch PTI and all that stuff, but I watched it giggling because I knew I was going to win again and it was just a matter of time,” Garrigus said.

He finished 2010 by winning the tour’s final event at Disney, and he opened this year losing a playoff to Jonathan Byrd in the Tournament of Champions. Now he’s back at a course where he feels very comfortable, especially in targeting holes on the greens with his ability to spin the ball with his middle irons.

Garrigus has been grouped with Westwood and Karlsson for the first two rounds starting Thursday, which he expected. He’s busy dealing with what he called mixed emotions feeling like he’s the defending champ and not Westwood.

But he knows how he’ll feel when he reaches the 18th tee.

“I’m not going to screw it up this time. I know what to do and where to hit it and in what situation, and last year helped my career leaps and bounds even though I lost in the playoff and made 7 on the last hole,” Garrigus said.

Golfers will have to deal with sizzling heat too with temperatures expected to hit the mid-90s. Mix in the humidity, and Garrigus predicted he’ll need to drink 15 bottles of water a day alone to stay hydrated.

Both Westwood and Karlsson compared playing in Memphis to the conditions in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“That’s part of playing this event,” Karlsson said. “You just have to take it and prepare as well as you can and make sure you stay hydrated and not get too caught up in outside conditions.”

Divots: Denver quarterback Tim Tebow played in Wednesday’s pro-am with former coach Urban Meyer, and he drew a bigger crowd warming up on the practice range than Westwood did as he headed to the putting green. … Vijay Singh’s withdrawal allowed Michael Letzig into the field. D.A. Points, Ricky Barnes and Jose Marie Olazabal also withdrew.

 

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.