Sergio Surges to No 3

By Brian HewittOctober 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
In football, coaches love defensive players who are around the ball all the time. Players who have a nose for the ball.
 
The names Ronnie Lott, Dick Butkus and, more recently, Troy Polamalu jump to mind.
 
So what does that have to do with golf?
 
Sergio Garcia has been around the ball a lot lately. In fact, he has had a nose for the lead all year long.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia gets emotional during his post-victory speech Sunday. (Getty Images)
In fact, Garcia just zoomed past Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh into No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has never been higher. And that is because he has never been better.
 
In his last six starts worldwide, Garcia has produced a victory, three seconds, a fifth and a 20th. Awesome, he said Sunday from Spain.
 
Sunday from Castellon, Spain, to be precise, is when and where Garcia won on the course on which he learned how to play golf. His victory was by three shots over Swedens Peter Hedblom. Surprisingly, it was Garcias first victory on the European Tour in three years.
 
But the only thing surprising about Garcias recent ascendancy is that it took him so long. He is the most consistent long driver in the game. And he has always had talent oozing from every pore since he was a teenager.
 
Hedblom birdied the first four holes Sunday at the Castello Masters and when Garcia bogeyed the sixth, the four-shot lead he had slept on Saturday night was suddenly gone. He responded with a bounce-back birdie on the seventh and never trailed again.
 
It just feels very special and means so much, Garcia said.
 
Then he wasted no time emphasizing how much in his thoughts Seve Ballesteros has been lately while Ballesteros battles brain cancer in a hospital in Northern Spain.
 
I couldnt help but think about Seve, Garcia said. Im sending my love to him and his family and hope he recovers soon. I hope this victory helps him get a little better.
 
In fact, its almost as if Ballesteros countrymen are channeling their iconic idol. Last week in Portugal, Alvaro Quiros, also a Spaniard, won on the European Tour. And this week that tour will conclude its season at Valderrama where they will play the Volvo Masters in what promises to be an emotional gathering of Europes golfing eagles. Valderrama is where Ballesteros captained the European side to a smashing Ryder Cup victory over the U.S. in 1997.
 
Garcias been burned a few times this year, for sure. Singh beat him with that putt in the playoff at the Barclays. And Harrington tracked him down on the last nine holes at the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Anthony Kim got him pretty good in the Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup, too.
 
But Garcia has very quietly ' and he doesnt usually do things quietly ' risen to all sorts of challenges this year. He beat everybody who showed up (Tiger Woods was absent) at The Players Championship in early May. And more recently hes been an absolute top-5 machine.
 
Moreover, he seems much more comfortable in his own skin (even in defeat) than he was last year, when his petulance boiled over after losing, gracelessly, to Harrington at the Open Championship at Carnoustie.
 
In 2008, his sportsmanship improved when Harrington beat him at Oakland Hills. And he was positively gracious in defeat at Valhalla in Kentucky when Kim took his measure ' and then some.
 
And now he has climbed to No. 3 with a bullet. Both he and No. 2 Phil Mickelson have outside shots to wrest No. 1 away from the idle Woods, depending on how soon Woods returns from knee surgery and how well he plays when he does.
 
But for now No. 3 looks and feels pretty good to Sergio Garcia. In fact, its awesome.
 
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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.

Getty Images

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.