Everything's the same for co-leader Jones, yet different

By Bailey MosierJanuary 31, 2014, 11:57 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – In an era where PGA Tour players make more changes in coaches, caddies and equipment than wardrobe changes at a Cher concert, Matt Jones, who co-leads the Waste Management Phoenix Open through two rounds, is a welcome reprieve.

The 33-year-old Sydney, Australia, native who went to Arizona State University and has made his home in Scottsdale has had the same swing coach since he was 15. Winless on any tour since turning pro in 2001, when he left ASU after his junior year, the Sun Devil’s day in the sun may finally be dawning.

“It’s years of work,” Jones said of his time with swing coach Gary Barter, who lives and teaches at the Australian Golf Club in a suburb of Sydney. “We do the same thing, trying and improve the same areas and they are probably starting to come together.”

Barter isn’t on-site this week in Scottsdale, but was Stateside a “few weeks ago” and “will be here on Monday in Pebble” to connect with Jones for next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

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Jones’ 6-under 65 on Friday was bested by only one player (Brandt Snedeker, 64), and matches his lowest round ever (Thursday’s 65) in the WMPO. That wouldn’t ordinarily be difficult to believe, except Jones is no stranger to TPC Scottsdale’s bends and Bermuda. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I play (TPC Scottsdale) a lot, actually,” Jones said. “I do a lot of practice here, and then I do a lot of playing in the afternoons.”

It seems curious, then, that in five previous starts in the event, he’s made the cut just once – in 2012 – where he went on to finish T-40.

“I have never played well here. … I always struggle to break par here for some reason.”

Fair enough. But there has to be some reason.

“The golf tournament is so different tournament week than it is when you play out here regularly. It’s a lot harder, a lot faster. The greens are a lot quicker. The pins are a lot more tucked out here. So it’s like a new golf course.”

A new golf course, but an old approach.

It seems a winning formula for Jones as of late. After seven years on Tour (Jones has also spent time on the Australasia and Web.com tours), things are finally starting to come together. He came in second at last year’s Greenbrier Classic – his lowest showing on Tour - was a career-best 32nd in the FedEx Cup standings and was 48th on the money list (also a career high). He made 18 cuts in 24 starts in 2013.

His stats will tell you he’s playing better, too. He was ranked 12th on Tour in total driving and 30th in ball-striking in 2013  – both career lows for the Australian.

And he knows it.

“My driving (has gotten better),” Jones said. “I’m not having the misses that I used to have. My wedge game, took years for me to be able to control the ball, trajectory, spin of the wedges how we wanted. They’re starting to get better.”

While his ball-striking has improved, last year’s strokes gained putting statistic (he ranked 66th) shows that he continues to struggle in that area. Alas, self-awareness is the first step toward advancement.

“The putting is always the one that I need to improve on or become more consistent at.”

The course is finally showing some warmth and welcoming to Jones in this event, but that doesn’t mean the fans at 16 are.

“None [reaction on 16], really,” Jones said. “As long as I’m playing well, it doesn’t bother me if there are people supporting me or not. I have plenty of friends and family out in the crowd. I know they are watching and supporting.”

While everything in Jones’ routine and swing is the same as it always has been, by week’s end there might be something very different about him. He might finally be a PGA Tour winner.

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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.