A gday for the Aussies - just not good enough

By Doug FergusonApril 11, 2011, 4:42 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Australians were headed for a very g’day at the Masters.

The leaderboard was filled with guys from Down Under. When Adam Scott rolled in a short birdie putt at the 16th hole, he had the lead all to himself. Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy were right in the mix, too, just in case Scott faltered.

By shear numbers, the golfing-mad country seemed poised to celebrate the only major championship its never won.

Sorry, mate. The Aussies will have to wait a little longer.

Charl Schwartzel, a 26-year-old South African, put on one of the greatest finishing kicks in major championship history. He birdied the last four holes for a 6-under 66, giving him a two-stroke win over Scott and Day, with Ogilvy four shots back in a tie for fourth.

Scott, especially, seemed heartbroken over having the green jacket – and his first major title – snatched away.

“It’s just disappointing that I didn’t win when I held the lead with a few holes to go,” the 30-year-old said, looking down and struggling to get the words out. “I’m usually a pretty good closer. I didn’t do a bad job today, but Charl was better. It was an incredible finish. I’m proud of the way I played, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done when I was right there at the end.”

Scott hurt his chances with a couple of errant shots. He knocked his approach at the par-5 15th far to the right, over near a grandstand, and had to struggle just to get down with par on a hole that provides an excellent chance to make at least a birdie, maybe even an eagle.

Then, after sticking it right up next to the flag at the 16th for a tap-in birdie and the outright lead over Schwartzel, Scott yanked his tee shot at 17 into a bunker next to the seventh green. He did some good work from there, knocking it over the trees and into a greenside bunker at the correct hole, then getting up and down for a par.

Turns out, par wasn’t good enough with the way Schwartzel played down the stretch. Scott had a 20-footer for birdie at the final hole, and he knew he needed it with the South African having claimed the lead at the 17th. He gave it a good roll but it skidded by the cup – and it didn’t matter anyway when Schwartzel made one last birdie at the 18th.

“He must have hit some beautiful shots,” said Scott, who played with Day in the group right in front of Schwartzel. “He’s got a hell of a swing. Certainly he’s a guy when you’re out there playing with him and you see him strike the ball, you take notice because it’s pretty impressive.”

So was Day, who hardly looked like a Masters rookie.

He posted the best round of the tournament on Friday, a 64 that vaulted him into contention, and he never wavered even after struggling on the front side Sunday.

The 23-year-old Day birdied four of the last seven holes, making clutch putts at 17 and 18 that gave him a glimmer of hope until he saw the numbers Schwartzel was posting.

“You can’t do anything about a guy who birdies the last four holes of a tournament,” Day said. “If you want to go out and win a tournament, that’s how you do it.”

Ogilvy, a former U.S. Open champion, surged into contention for another major title by ripping off five straight birdies starting at No. 12.

But he couldn’t keep it going, settling for pars at the last two holes for a 278, tied with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. That left the Aussies with three of the top six spots on the leaderboard, just not the one they wanted most of all.

“Obviously, we fell short a little bit, but it just shows how good Australian golf is right now,” Day said. “There’s a lot of good Australian golfers.”

That’s nothing new. The continent country has produced nine major champions, led by Peter Thomson with five British Open crowns. In all, the Aussies have won at golf’s Big Four an impressive 15 times, but one title has always eluded them.

At the Masters, they’re known more for misery than triumph – most notably, Greg Norman’s final-round collapse with a seemingly insurmountable lead in 1996.

“You’ve heard some stories about Greg around here,” Day acknowledged.

But he and his mates will be back again in 2012, eager to take another crack at that elusive green jacket.

“I’m not leaving with any regrets because I played my heart out,” Day said. “I’m looking forward to next year. Hopefully it’ll be as exciting as it was this year.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.