Donald wins first World Golf Championship

By Doug FergusonFebruary 28, 2011, 4:16 am

2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – Luke Donald spoiled Martin Kaymer’s rise to No. 1 in the world by winning the Match Play Championship on Sunday with a performance so dominant he never played the 18th hole all week.

Not even the snow and sleet could stop Donald.

On a bizarre final day in the high desert, which began with snow covering the fairways, Donald pulled ahead for good with a birdie on the par-5 11th and a par on the next hole, eventually closing out Kaymer on No. 16 for a 3-and-2 victory.

The consolation prize for Kaymer is going to No. 1 in the career, which he assured by reaching the championship match.

Donald was in more dire need of this trophy, however.

It was his first win in America in five years, and it was only his second win worldwide since he captured the 2006 Honda Classic. The 33-year-old Englishman had done just about everything right except win.

He took care of that in a week like no other in the 13-year history of the Accenture Match Play Championship. Donald played only 89 holes in six matches and never trailed in any of them. In fact, he led after 81 of those holes.

“It feels amazing,” Donald said. “I had a bit of a monkey on my back. I hadn’t won in the U.S. in five years.”

Donald won his first World Golf Championship, and became the second player from England to capture the Match Play Championship. He goes to a career-best No. 3 in the world to continue a European resurgence in the ranking.

The next world ranking will be Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Donald and Graeme McDowell. It’s the first time since March 15, 1992, that the top four spots have been occupied by Europeans.

Matt Kuchar defeated Bubba Watson in the consolation match and will go to No. 10 in the world.

This Match Play Championship will stand out for reasons beyond golf.

A late winter storm dusted Dove Mountain with nearly an inch of snow, and the fairways were blankets of white in the morning. Donald looked out his hotel room and suggested on Twitter that a snowball fight determine who had honors on the first tee.

The snow had melted when they teed off, although dark clouds on the horizon loomed. Sleet began falling when the championship match reached the third green, and play was stopped when sleet covered the fourth fairway.

“Do we have to keep playing?” Kaymer asked chief referee Mark Russell.

Kaymer, who purchased a snood to wear around his neck, pulled it up over his mouth and looked like a real Western gunslinger (except for the pattern of flies on fish hooks). Donald took out his blue-and-white umbrella and crouched beneath it.

After about 10 minutes, when the fairways turned from white back to green, play resumed.

Donald seized on the moment. Already 1 up from his 18-foot birdie on the par-5 second, he watched Kaymer hit a fade over the bunker to about 7 feet, then answered with a shot into 2 feet for a conceded birdie. Kaymer missed, and Donald was 2 up.

On the next hole, Kaymer pulled his drive into the desert and fell another hole down.

Donald three-putted for bogey from below the ridge to lose his first hole, and Kaymer squared the match at the turn with a birdie on the eighth and a bogey on No. 9, where Donald hit his approach into a desert bush and had to return to his original spot in the fairway.

The turning point might have been No. 10.

Kaymer had all the momentum and blistered a tee shot down the middle, while Donald went from a scrubby lie in the desert to a waste area short of the green. Donald, however, blasted out to 3 feet for a conceded par.

He took the lead on the 11th by making an 8-foot birdie putt as Kaymer missed his birdie from just inside 6 feet, and Donald regained all the moment on the next hole when Kaymer came up short into the sand and took bogey.

Donald went 3 up on the 15th when Kaymer missed a birdie putt from inside 4 feet, and the “Germanator” conceded the match on the 16th when he failed to hole a 30-foot birdie putt.

It was the first time the championship match was decided over 18 holes instead of 36.

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.

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.