Fowler leads youthful charge as top seeds fall
“Sophia has some shoes like that,” Mickelson said, referring to his 9-year-old daughter. “She wears them to her dance class.”
Mickelson has become somewhat of a mentor to Fowler, so the kid knew what was coming.
Fowler was 8 under par when their match ended on the 13th hole, a 6-and-5 win that sent Mickelson to his worst loss ever in this fickle tournament.
“I love guys like Phil. In a way, he’s taken me under his wing a bit,” Fowler said. “I love watching him play. I love playing with him. And obviously, it was huge for me going out there and getting the job done today.”
Fowler was 5 under over the last four holes, which included a chip-in for birdie from behind the 10th green and a pair of eagles, the last one with a 4-iron from 232 yards that landed just beyond a ridge and rolled so close that Mickelson conceded the putt.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness,” Mickelson said. “He really is a complete player, and he put it together today.”
Fowler had plenty of company.
Equally impressive was Italy’s teen sensation, 17-year-old Matteo Manassero, who hit a 6-iron to 4 feet on the 17th hole and closed out Charl Schwartzel of South Africa to advance. Jason Day, a 23-year-old Australian, played like a veteran of match play the way he toyed with Paul Casey in a 4-and-2 victory.
Of the final 16 players left at the Accenture Match Play Championship, eight are under 30.
That includes Nick Watney, who steadied his emotions over the last three holes to knock out top-ranked Lee Westwood – the third straight year the No. 1 seed did not make it out of the second round. The highest seed remaining after two wild days was PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the 25-year-old “Germanator” who had to go 20 holes to beat Justin Rose.
It hasn’t been a bad week for the Americans at this World Golf Championship. They have eight players in the round of 16, the most in five years. The surprise is the list of players.
Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk were gone after the first round. Mickelson joined them on Thursday.
Leading the way is a new cast of emerging stars, from Fowler and Watney, to Hunter Mahan, who won three of the last five holes to rally against Robert Karlsson.
But this youth movement isn’t about the Americans.
Manassero keeps setting age records wherever he goes – the youngest to win the British Amateur, the youngest to be low amateur at the British Open and the Masters, the youngest to win on the European Tour.
“It’s a big sense of achievement for me,” Manassero said.
He was in control for much of his match against Schwartzel until nearly giving it away. His tee shot on the 16th bounced off the corporate tents and into a cactus, and the Italian felt as though he might have moved the ball while trying to remove a loose branch. So he conceded the hole to Schwartzel, and put it behind him quickly.
His 6-iron on the 17th set up birdie, and Manassero closed it out with a par on the 18th.
One youngster not invited to the party was 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, the No. 7 seed. He ran into Ben Crane, who played perhaps his quickest round ever – the match ended on the 11th hole, an 8-and-7 victory.
Crane has the reputation for slow play, although that wasn’t an issue.
“We played quick out there because he was making birdies,” McIlroy said.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had no trouble with Ross Fisher in a 4-and-2 victory, which assured he will move ahead of Woods in the next world ranking.
“I’m perhaps a better golfer than him in the last 12 months, but he’s definitely the greatest player that’s ever lived, I think,” McDowell said. “Of course, if someone told me at some point in my career I would be No. 3 in the world, I’d be proud of that fact.”
Kaymer, meanwhile, kept alive his chances of going to No. 1 when he held on to beat Rose and Westwood was beaten. The German will have to reach the championship match to go to No. 1.
Watney and Westwood halved the last three holes, although it wasn’t that simple.
The turning point came on the par-3 16th, when Watney hit into a bunker, left it in the bunker and blasted out to 5 feet. Westwood had two putts from 20 feet to square the match, but knocked his first putt 3 1/2 feet by the hole. Watney made his putt for bogey, and Westwood’s par putt barely touched the hole.
Then, Watney had a 5-foot birdie putt to win the match on the 17th and missed, giving life to Westwood. The Englishman had a 15-foot birdie putt to go into overtime, but it wasn’t close.
Westwood took solace in going 18 holes “considering how badly I putted.”
He has yet to record a top-10 finish in four starts this year.
With so much emphasis on youth, the oldest player in the field is still alive. That would be Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 47-year-old Spaniard with his love of cigars and red wine. Next up is Crane, who has never made it past the third round in this tournament.
“I don’t think anyone is going, ‘Wow, Ben Crane is really coming through this bracket. Look out! Gosh, sorry you’ve got to play Ben Crane. Boy, tough draw there,”’ Crane said. “Rory didn’t have his best day and things were going in my favor.”
Things are going well for J.B. Holmes, too. He wasn’t in the field until Tim Clark withdrew, and he beat Ernie Els on the 18th hole.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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
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.