Clarke surges to big lead at Loch Lomond

By Doug FergusonJuly 9, 2010, 8:55 pm

European Tour

LUSS, Scotland  – Darren Clarke was nearly flawless in miserable conditions Friday in the Scottish Open, opening a three-shot lead as he looks to add to what already has been a banner year for golf in Northern Ireland.

On a dreary day at Loch Lomond, Clarke chipped in for birdie on the tough 16th and holed a series of 20-foot birdie putts on the front nine for a 4-under 67, giving him the lead over Edoardo Molinari, who had a 69.

Perhaps more impressive than being at 10-under 132 going into the weekend is that Clarke has made only one bogey – a three-putt from 20 feet on the par-3 11th hole on Friday – over his opening 36 holes.

He has played cleanly in conditions that caused Phil Mickelson to take a quintuple-bogey on the 18th hole, and Ernie Els to make consecutive double bogeys as he was trying to finish. They both missed the cut.

Darren Clarke
Clarke shined in the rain to post a 36-hole total of 10-under-par. (Getty Images)
“It wasn’t torrential, heavy rain. It was just torrential rain,” Clarke said. “If you’re from Ireland, there’s a difference. We knew it was going to be very hard and the forecast was poor. It was just tough to play in it. Par was a good score on every hole. So being able to shoot 4-under, I was very pleased.”

Bradley Dredge and Peter Hedblom each had a 69 and were at 6-under 136, while Francesco Molinari recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole for a 69 to finish another shot back.

John Daly made bogey on his opening hole despite having to go back to the tee after losing his opening shot, then struggled home over the closing holes and shot 73. He was eight shots behind at 142.

Along with trying to win for the first time in two years, Clarke can earn a spot in the British Open next week at St. Andrews by winning, or at least finishing the highest among those who are not eligible.

Once the high-profile player from Northern Ireland, he has turned the feats over to his proteges. First came Rory McIlroy, closing with a 62 at Quail Hollow for his first victory in America in May. A month later, Graeme McDowell gave Northern Ireland its first major since 1947 when he captured the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“I’ve been delighted to see their success,” Clark said. “It’s fantastic for European golf and Ulster golf, Irish golf, to see the two of them playing as well as they have been. I’ve been there a little bit for both of them in the past, and they are returning the compliment to me at the moment to keep going and working away at it.”

His game started to turn earlier in the week when he won the J.P. McManus charity event in Ireland. It didn’t count on his record, although it mattered to see so many putts go in, and the confidence appears to have carried forward.

Clarke has been around long enough to know that one round – especially Thursday – doesn’t mean much. That’s one reason he took as much satisfaction out of his 67 on Friday. Now he has reason to believe he can win at Loch Lomond, and that his game is turning around.

He built his big lead quickly, making a 15-foot birdie from the fringe on No. 1 after a 4-iron, an example of how much longer the course played in wet conditions. Clarke played short of the par-5 third and holed a 20-foot birdie putt, then knocked in a 25-foot birdie on the fourth after hitting into the rough.

Mickelson didn’t put a ball in play on the 18th hole until his third tee shot. He played bogey-free on his back nine, but couldn’t make up the lost group. Els lost one tee shot to the left on No. 6 and hit an approach into the water on the right at the next hole, making consecutive double bogeys for a 76.

“Just fighting my swing all day and I basically got fed up with it,” Els said of the shot he hooked into the weeds on No. 6 and the approach he blocked in the lake on the next hole. “It’s probably better for me to get out of here, get to St. Andrews and work on it.”

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.

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.