Westwood tops McIlroy for solo third-round lead in Dubai

By Associated PressFebruary 11, 2012, 3:00 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Lee Westwood took advantage of some shaky play from Rory McIlroy and Thomas Bjorn to claim the third-round lead at the Dubai Desert Classic, one shot clear of Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain and two others.

Westwood was three shots behind McIlroy and Bjorn at the start of the third round but the quickly closed the gap with three birdies in his first four holes. The third-ranked Englishman birdied the 13th for a share of the lead with Bjorn and then went ahead by one when the Dane bogeyed the 15th.

“I played well. I got off to a good start. I was 3-under par after four (holes),” Westwood said. “The only time I dropped two shots was when I hit two poor drives on 6 into the left rough, got a heavy lie and 8 hit it into the sand on right. Other than that very solid and gave myself lots of birdie chances.”

With 21 European Tour titles, Westwood has much more experience than the next three players. Cabrera-Bello (70), Stephen Gallacher (68) and Marcel Siem (68) have a combined three titles.

“Yeah, I know how to play with the lead. What did I win, four times last year?” Westwood said with a wry smile. “When I get a chance, I’m pretty good at finishing off. I’ve won (38) times (worldwide). You know, that’s not somebody that’s not good with a lead. It’s a habit. You get used to it, you know. You get used to knowing what to do; when to press, when not to press, when to be patient.”

Coming into Saturday, it appeared Westwood’s biggest challengers this weekend would be U.S. Open champion McIlroy and Bjorn, who beat Tiger Woods in 2001 to take the Dubai title.

But McIlroy dropped back early, after his tee shot on No. 7 went in the water led to his first bogey. It was a sign of the kind of struggles he would have all day, as missed putts and errant drives led to three more bogeys on the back nine.

“It was pretty ragged to say the least,” McIlroy said. “I think the conditions were a little tougher, the wind got up, and had not really played in wind like that all week, so that sort of put me off a little bit, and the greens got a little firmer, pin positions were a little tougher … just definitely didn’t come as easy to me as it did the first couple of days.”

The 22-year-old Irishman did well to remain in the hunt, making three birdies on the back nine including on the 18th for a 72. Only two shots back, McIlroy said he had similar experience in Hong Kong where he shot a 65 to win the tournament, so he is confident he could still claim his first victory in Dubai since 2009.

“Today is just not going to be a day where you hit it well and you’re going to make plenty of birdies and give yourself opportunities,” he said. “A day like today, you just have to try to stay as close to the leaders as possible and not let them get away from you. That’s what we tried to do today and luckily I’m only two back which is a good thing.”

With McIlroy faltering, it appeared that Bjorn would take advantage and did so early on. He took the outright lead when he birdied No. 7 and consolidated the lead with another birdie on No. 10. But everything went wrong on remainder of the back nine, as a tee shot in the bunker led to a bogey on 15. He followed that with two more bogeys on his last three holes.

McIlroy is tied for fifth with 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer (70), Scott Jamieson (70) Joel Sjoholm (66). Bjorn (73) was a further shot back in a three-way tie for ninth with George Coetzee of South Africa and 2003 British Open Champion Ben Curtis.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.