England's Lewis ready to test game in U.S.

By Doug FergusonMarch 14, 2012, 6:06 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – His achievements alone would suggest Tom Lewis is racing toward stardom.

The 21-year-old from England burst onto the world scene last year at Royal St. George’s when he ran off four straight birdies late in the opening round for a 65. It was the lowest score ever by an amateur in the British Open, and he was the first amateur in 43 years to be atop the leaderboard in golf’s oldest championship.

If that wasn’t enough, he won in his third tournament as a pro with a 65 on the last day at the Portugal Masters. Tiger Woods didn’t win until his fifth tournament. Rory McIlroy waited until his 38th start to win.

But for a kid with no other aspirations but to play golf for a living, Lewis sees himself as someone with much to learn. Another step comes this week at the Transitions Championship, where Lewis makes his PGA Tour debut, his first time playing in the United States as a pro.

“I know I’ve got two years in Europe. That helps,” Lewis said, referring to the two-year exemption on the European Tour for winning. “It gives me the opportunity to come here and see what standard I need to get to.”

There are so many examples of players wasting little time to get to where they want to be.

McIlroy two weeks ago rose to No. 1 in the world at 22, the second-youngest player behind Tiger Woods to be atop the world rankings. Harris English last year won a Nationwide Tour event while still an amateur. Bud Cauley became only the sixth player to go straight from college to the PGA Tour without a trip to Q-School.

The tee times for Innisbrook offer a bizarre indicator of youth: Cauley is about to turn 22, and he’ll be the oldest player in his group.

“That’s kind of funny,” Cauley said. “I never thought that would happen.”

He’ll play with Lewis and Ryo Ishikawa, the 20-year-old from Japan who is coming off a runner-up finish last week in the Puerto Rico Open. Lewis is a European Tour winner. Ishikawa has won 10 times in Japan and played on two Presidents Cup teams.

“Golf is getting so competitive at an earlier age,” Cauley said.

Justin Rose was one of those guys. He tied for fourth in the 1998 British Open as a 17-year-old at Royal Birkdale, turned pro the following week and spent the next year missing cuts. He finally figured it out and won a World Golf Championship last week at Doral, his 10th win worldwide.

Rose spent some time with Lewis last fall in Asia, and he was impressed with what he saw.

“He seems to be in no hurry,” Rose said. “I thought it was incredibly long-sighted. I see a lot of kids, me included, who come out and think it’s so important to have your tour card immediately, get into the top 50 in the world, get into the Masters, get into the majors. That will all happen in time, and I think you need to focus on development of your game.

“I think that’s what he’s done really smartly.”

Lewis gained loads of confidence from the British Open, especially playing alongside his namesake – Tom Watson – when he opened with a 65 and was only three shots out of the lead going into the weekend. He tied for 30th.

Asked when he knew he was good enough to compete against the best, Lewis replied, “When I won.” But he always believed he would be playing golf for a living. Lewis never considered anything else.

Golf has been in blood a long time.

His father, Bryan, came from the same golfing region north of London that produced tour players Bobby Mitchell and Trevor Powell, all of them overshadowed by six-time major champion Nick Faldo. Bryan Lewis played a few years on the European Tour, enough to recognize that his son had a special talent.

Lewis also has dyslexia, which gave him a disdain of school and made him even more determined to be a golfer.

“I didn’t see anything in school for me,” Lewis said. “If you’re not good at something, and you’re competitive, you don’t really like doing it. School was frustrating. I couldn’t read or couldn’t really spell very well. And it wasn’t really fun. I wanted to be the best at everything I did. And school was something I was bad at.”

And if golf never worked out? Lewis never considered an alternative.

“People talk about backups for their career, and that’s probably a good way,” he said. “But I gambled. I said, ‘If I do a backup, then I’m not concentrating on the actual goal. My full focus was on playing golf, and it paid off. I’ve got two years to learn as well as I can, and then I have no excuses. If you leave school at 16, there are no excuses not to do good at sport.

“It gives me pressure, but that pressure is a good thing.”

Lewis played three times in the United States as an amateur – the Western Amateur outside Chicago, the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills and the Jones Cup at Sea Island. For his pro debut, he picked a strong event.

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is regarded by some as the strongest course of the Florida swing, and it has attracted a deep field – Rose, coming off his big win at Doral; former world No. 1 Luke Donald, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, along with the likes of Nick WatneyWebb Simpson and Jason Day.

Lewis has solid credentials, yet he is always looking to measure himself against various players. As a kid, he admired the sweet swing and quiet demeanor of Retief Goosen. His standard as a young teenager was English amateur star Oliver Fisher. As a pro, he was inspired by Italian teen Matteo Manassero winning twice in Europe.

He is not eligible for the Masters – only a win at Innisbrook would get him to Augusta National – though Lewis is not sure he’s ready.

“If I can get to the standard I want to,” he said, “I’ll be there in time.”

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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.

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.