Westwood routs Hansen advances at World Match Play

By Associated PressMay 19, 2011, 6:08 pm

European TourCASARES, Spain – Lee Westwood produced a blitz of birdies to thrash Anders Hansen on the opening day of the World Match Play Championship and send a message to the two men trying to supplant him as world No. 1.

Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, who both could leap to the top of the rankings by winning the tournament on the Costa del Sol, also eased to opening-round victories at the Finca Cortesin course on Thursday but Westwood’s 6-and-5 rout of Hansen in Group A stood out on a day of few surprises.

Westwood started with a bogey on the par-4 first but found his range with the putter to make six birdies between the fourth and 11th holes, overwhelming his Danish opponent.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy won his Day 1 match, 1 up, over Retief Goosen. (Getty Images)
“If you get on a winning run where you’re in contention a lot and finishing it off, that works wonders for your confidence and you start getting in that habit. But I’ve seen enough ups and downs in golf to know that you don’t take good play for granted. You have to work constantly at it.”

Westwood didn’t compete in last week’s Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass, branded by some as the fifth major, to maintain his freshness for not only the World Match Play but also subsequent tournaments this summer.

Considering the start he has made, that looks to be a wise decision, although there are tougher tests ahead in southern Spain this week as he looks to win the tournament for the second time. His first came in 2000.

“I feel fresh, feel good coming into this week, which is tough and demanding,” said Westwood, who credits his newfound stamina and strength to a strict fitness regime he began four years ago. “I had such a busy time in the first part of the year, I was going to need a break at some stage to just sit down and do nothing, and recharge.”

Westwood plays Australia’s Aaron Baddeley on Friday in his second group match.

Donald, who beat Kaymer to win the Accenture World Match Play in Arizona in February, again showed his pedigree in the one-on-one format by cruising past Ryan Moore, 4 and 3, in Group B.

Birdies at the third, fourth and seventh holes put the second-ranked Donald 3 up, and two more at No. 14 and No. 15 saw off the challenge of the only American player in the 24-man field.

“I haven’t had too many disappointments in match play. I enjoy the format and I’ve been very successful in it,” said Donald, who has finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 14 events. “I continued the form I’ve been playing the last few months. I’d put it in the solid category.”

Donald needs to win the tournament and hope Westwood doesn’t make the final if he is to climb to No. 1 for the first time. Kaymer, meanwhile, requires Westwood to be eliminated before the semifinals to return to the top of the rankings.

The third-ranked German was 2 down to Y.E. Yang by the 11th but won the next four holes to complete a 2-and-1 win on the 17th.

Only two players lost to lower-ranked opponents on a day of few genuine shocks at the hilly, par-72 course.

Ninth-ranked Paul Casey lost, 3 and 1, to Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, the world No. 26, in a battle of the big hitters and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was thrashed, 6 and 5, by Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Schwartzel is trying to emulate his fellow South Africans Gary Player and Ernie Els, who won the tournament 12 times between them. But he bogeyed the opening two holes and failed to match the consistency of Jimenez, who was born in nearby Malaga but is playing this course for the first time.

Jimenez didn’t drop a shot for the entire round.

“I just kept playing solid – pars, pars, birdies, pars. That’s the game today,” said Jimenez, who went 3 up after five holes and never looked back.

Schwartzel must avoid defeat in his second Group G match – against Johan Edfors on Friday – to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages this weekend.

Under the tournament’s new format, two players from each of the eight three-man groups go through to the last 16.

Elsewhere, No. 5-ranked Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion, defeated British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 3 and 1, and fellow Northern Irish player Rory McIlroy also won, beating Retief Goosen by 1 hole.

Ross Fisher, who defeated Anthony Kim in the 2009 final, starts the defense of his title on Friday.


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.