Another green jacket awaits Cabrera at Oakmont

By Doug FergusonApril 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
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If great golf courses are defined by its major champions, then its easy to understand why the membership at Oakmont Country Club was so thrilled to see Angel Cabrera in a green jacket.
No other championship course in America can boast such a long and distinguished list of major champions.
Gene Sarazen. Sam Snead. Ben Hogan. Jack Nicklaus. Johnny Miller. Ernie Els.
Not many people knew much about Cabrera when he won the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago by one shot over Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. He was big, burly and his hardscrabble life was as much Pittsburgh as it was Argentina.
Oakmont has hosted 11 mens professional majors, and only two of its champions ' local pro Sam Parks Jr. at the 1935 U.S. Open and John Mahaffey at the 1978 PGA Championship ' never won another Grand Slam event.
Thanks to Cabreras victory at the Masters, the one-hit wonders will stay at two.
I think its very important, said Bob Ford, the longtime head pro at Oakmont. It validates this as a course that produces great champions. Great names win here. We were hoping for Woods to win, and when Angel won, it was like, Who is this guy?
Now, hes a Masters champion.
Oakmont has some competition as the greatest roll call of major champions.
Augusta National doesnt count for obvious reasons ' its the only course that holds a major every year.
Ditto for St. Andrews, the home of golf, where the British Open has been played 27 times. That might be the greatest place to win any major, for even Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion, once said, I was always told that to be a good golfer is one thing, but to be a great golfer is to win at St. Andrews. The British Open has used only 14 links courses for its 137 championships.
As for American courses used for the U.S. Open and PGA Championship?
Pebble Beach can surely state its case with Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Woods winning the U.S. Open, and Lanny Wadkins winning the PGA Championship. All of them are, or will be, in the Hall of Fame.
Oakland Hills has hosted nine majors, and while its list includes two players with the career Grand Slam (Hogan, Gary Player) and four other multiple major champions (Padraig Harrington, Ralph Guldahl, David Graham and Andy North), it also features Steve Jones and Cyril Walker. The nine winners at The Monster have combined to capture 30 majors.
Baltusrol can claim two U.S. Open titles by Nicklaus and a PGA Championship victory by Phil Mickelson. But its list also includes one-time major winners Ed Furgol, Jerome Travers and Tony Manero.
And while the media complains too much about the heat, Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., ranks among the best. Its seven major champions include the dominant players of the last two decades ' Woods and Nick Price ' along with Hall of Famers Raymond Floyd, Hubert Green and Tommy Bolt. The others were multiple major winners Retief Goosen and Dave Stockton.
Goosen, like Cabrera, was somewhat of an unknown until he won another U.S. Open three years later at Shinnecock Hills.
Validation, like Bob said, is exactly correct, Southern Hills head pro Dave Bryan said Tuesday. Goosen validated his championship here, especially winning at Shinnecock.
Winged Foot serves up Bobby Jones, Billy Casper, Hale Irwin and Fuzzy Zoeller among multiple major champions, along with one-time winners (for now) Davis Love III and Geoff Ogilvy.
Oak Hill has hosted only five majors and had a Hall of Fame list going ' Cary Middlecoff, Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Curtis Strange ' until it crowned Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship. It remains the only victory in Micheels career.
Does it matter who wins a major?
Id hate to say that, Bryan said, pausing for a moment. But I think it does. Its important.
That would be bad news for The Olympic Club in San Francisco, known as a graveyard for champions. Its U.S. Open champions were Jack Fleck, Casper, Scott Simpson and Janzen. The runner-ups those years were Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Watson and Payne Stewart.
Oakmont, however, has an incomparable record of major champions. Its 11 winners have combined to win 56 majors, and seven of them are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
But it didnt need Cabrera to win the Masters to embrace him.
Ford tells the story of two Oakmont members headed to Argentina in March. He e-mailed Manuel Tagle, the agent for Cabrera, looking for suggestions. Tagle set them up at Olivos Golf Club, then contacted Buenos Aires Golf Club. But when Buenos Aires planned to charge triple the rate, Cabrera took over.
He said, Why dont you call them and tell them to come to Cordoba instead, and I will play them, Tagle said. So they did. We had a great time with them.
A month later, Cabrera paid them back in his own way. He gave Oakmont another multiple major champion.
Cabrera plans to return this summer to Oakmont to take part in a recent tradition of awarding national champions an honorary membership to the club. Ford said Cabrera will be presented a jacket worn only by members.
Most appropriately, Oakmonts jacket is green.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''