Major Season Upon Us

By Brian HewittApril 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca. -- Paula Creamers penultimate shot of the second round of the years first major hung on the edge of the hole and refused to drop. Creamer slapped the head of her putter three times in frustration, frowned and tapped in for a 74 that left her one shot over par and miles off the lead at the halfway point of the Kraft Nabisco.
 
Its major season in golf now. This week for the women. Next week for the men at Augusta National. And everything is magnified. So three slaps to a balky flatstick where one sufficed as recently as last week.
 
Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa have been the dominant stories against their respective competition so far this year. But starting now we begin measuring their achievements through the prism of pressures presented by major championships.
 
Creamer is 21 years old. And she will probably have to wait until June now for the next two womens majors'The McDonalds LPGA and the U.S. Womens Open--for a defining moment.
 
She already has won once in 2008 (the Fields Open in February in Hawaii). And she is early enough on in her career to consider it a compliment when people categorize her as the best player never to have won a major.
 
I think its nice that I have that ability in peoples eyes to win majors as much as they believe in me to do that, she says. So thats exciting. But its not winning.
 
Creamer arrived at Mission Hills Country Club this week with just one top 5 finish in 14 major championship tries. Those arent the kind of numbers the No. 4 player in the world is supposed to produce.
 
Then she went out Friday in 39 on her first nine holes. She will need to step on it on the weekend to get back into contention. Contention was where she found herself last year here until posting a discouraging Sunday 78 that left her tied for 15th and puzzled.
 
Everybody puts emphasis on majors because they are the best tournaments to win and they are on this pedestal of being the top tournament to win, she said earlier this week. I think that going into them, mentally, its not been the same as any other week, and I think my best golf playing is when Im relaxed and know the golf course.
 
While Creamer, along with a laundry list of players that included Ochoa, Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew, Se Ri Pak and Brittany Lincicome were stuck in reverse at the wrong time one the weekend at Kraft Nabisco last year, Morgan Pressel, 18, was quietly minding her onions.
 
She carded a closing 69 long before the leaders self-destructed. And by the end of the day she found herself the winner of a war of attrition and the youngest female winner of a major championship in golf history.
 
Thursday and Friday Pressel played in a twosome with Ochoa. She hit five greens but shot 71 Thursday because her 22 putts was the lowest number in that category in the field.
 
Ochoa consistently launched her drives 50 and 60 yards past Pressel. And when a reporter asked Ochoa if she felt sorry for Pressel, Ochoa squirmed in embarrassment. Finally, after being pressed, she said, No.
 
What Ochoa should have said is: I will answer that question only after you ask Morgan if she feels sorry for me that I have never won this tournament.
 
But Ochoa has won a major'the 2007 Womens British at the Old Course at St. Andrews. So that monkey is off her back.
 
There is a growing sense that Ochoa is poised to start stringing womens majors in Woodsian fashion. In fact, if she wins this week, she will beat Woods to the punch on the Hot Topic circuit:
 
Will Lorena Ochoa win the womens Grand Slam this year?
 
Woods wont have a chance to get his first leg up on the mens calendar Slam until next weeks Masters.
 
Its major season in golf now. Everything starts to mean more and happen a little faster. Fasten your seat belts.
 
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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.