Royal Sharkdale

By Brian HewittJuly 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipThis one is tailor made for People magazine. But it will play pretty well in the golf media, too.
 
Aging, blonde, Australian, former superstar rediscovers his game at the advanced age of 53 and finds himself in the final group Saturday at the years third major championship after recent marriage to blonde, American superstar, also 53.
 
Yes, the lead story at Royal Birkdale through 36 holes is the pair of 70s Greg Norman has posted in the wind, rain and chill. Only K.J. Chois 1-under total is better in the field that started as 156 players.
 
Greg Norman
Greg Norman is greeted by his wife Chris Evert after his second straight 70 Friday. (Getty Images)
We now approach a weekend with dire weather in the forecast.
 
Norman, whose Hall of Fame career was highlighted by the two major championships he won at the British in 1986 and 1993, arrived at Birkdale fresh from a whirlwind honeymoon with Chris Evert, who by the way, has 16 more major tennis championships in her CV than her new husband.
 
Shes been there, Norman said of Evert when asked what kind of support his new bride is lending. She knows exactly what you have to do.
 
And shes her new husbands biggest fan. She really feels every shot, Norman added. She plays every shot with me and shes walked every shot although sometimes its hard to find her.
 
Normans two-day total of even-par 140 comprises five birdies, three bogeys and one double. He has one-putted 17 holes in two days. His next three-putt in this 137th Open Championship will be his first.
 
I havent been here in a long time, he acknowledged Friday. Im a realist.
 
But he also acknowledged that he has been there. And there is memory.
 
Earlier in the week I praised the straightforward Birkdale layout of 7,173 yards for not being Quirkdale. Too often golf courses get unnecessarily tricked up for major championships.
 
Little did I know at the time that Birkdale was going to become Sharkdale by the time darkness descended Friday night on these classic links by the Irish Sea.
 
The other Aussies will tell you that they could see this coming. There has been a spring in Normans step ever since he and Evert started keeping regular company. And there was a cutting edge to his golf game that his countryman noticed during the practice rounds.
 
Now the man they call The Shark is chasing history with the singular purpose of a Great White. If Norman pulls off victory, he will shatter the record as the oldest player to win a major. Julius Boros was 48 years, four months and 18 days old when he won the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in Texas. Norman will be 53 years, five months and 11 days old on Sunday.
 
And in case you were wondering what blast of air would rush in to fill the vacuum left by the absence of world No. 1 Tiger Woods, heres your answer.
 
Maybe 53 is the new 32 (Woods age). Maybe, for one week at least, an old Shark is the new Tiger. Or maybe this is all a dream that will disappear in a hail of Norman bogeys on Saturday and Sunday.
 
But isnt it fascinating how Norman, for years the most identifiable international face in golf, has replaced, at least for now, Woods, currently the most identifiable international face in golf.
 
There was a time during Normans long reign as the best player in the world in the 80s and 90s that people complained that the game was too Shark-centric; that the television directors showed all of his shots and not enough of the rest of the best players. Woods took over before the 90s had expired and those same kinds of complaints arose.
 
Its almost as if Norman handed off the Q-rating spotlight baton to Woods who, somehow, has figured out a way to temporarily loan it back to him ' knowing it will be in good hands ' until he returns to golfs big stages some time next year.
 
To be sure, Choi is the 36-hole leader. And he birdied the last two holes Friday to earn that distinction. But to be extra sure, almost everybodys eyes right now are on Greg Norman.
 
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  • 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


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    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

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    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.