Kuchar clubhouse leader at Whistling Straits

By Doug FergusonAugust 14, 2010, 4:50 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Matt Kuchar made a birdie on the first hole he played Friday to take the lead, which is where he wound up at the end of another long day at the PGA Championship.

What it meant was as clear as the cloudy, darkening sky over Whistling Straits.

Kuchar nearly holed out again from the 13th fairway on his way to a 69 that gave him a one-shot lead over Nick Watney, although half the field didn’t finish the second round and some players didn’t get past the fourth hole.

In the most disjointed major of the year, Tiger Woods had breakfast three times before teeing off in the first round, and he teed off around dinnertime in the second round.

Bubba Watson teed off some 30 hours after he finished his first round.

“I was talking with my caddie this afternoon, and we were talking about something that happened this morning,” Watney said. “But we both thought it was yesterday. So it’s been a long day. I’ll have no trouble sleeping tonight and wake up tomorrow and see where we’re at.”

Kuchar made birdie on the sixth hole when he resumed the first round Friday morning to finish off a 67. As a half-dozen players jockeyed for the lead in the afternoon, Kuchar took advantage when the wind was at his back and ran off three straight birdies on the back nine.

That put him in the lead, and a series of pars into the wind kept him there.

He was at 8-under 136, although he won’t find out until shortly before lunchtime Saturday whether that will be enough to give him his first lead ever in a major championship.

“Sitting around right now, it’s nice to be done,” said Kuchar, who woke up at 4 a.m. and left the course about 12 hours later.

Woods finished six holes, and only the first one was routine.

Matt Kuchar
At 8 under, Kuchar currently holds the lead at the PGA Championship. (Getty Images)

He had to scramble for par off a cart path, out of grass up to his knees and from a grassy knoll that made it tough for him to keep his balance. After the siren sounded to suspend play, Woods opted to finish the sixth hole. He chipped out of deep grass below the green and left himself a 5-foot birdie putt that spun 270 degrees around the cup and sent him home somber.

Six holes, six pars. He remained at 1 under.

“Had to hang in there, and did a good job with that,” Woods told a PGA official.

There was another fog delay, this one lasting just over 2 1/2 hours, and it played havoc on the starting times. Whistling Straits delivered its own share of misery at times, starting with European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. He played in the same group with Kuchar and was 26 shots worse over two rounds, going 78-83.

Phil Mickelson took some unusual routes from tee-to-green, although some of his misses were so big that he wound up in the gallery, where the grass had been trampled. Mickelson carries extra gloves in his bag for souvenirs when he hits a fan, and he handed one out on the 15th hole, complete with a frown sign inside the “o” where he wrote “Sorry.”

No apologies were necessary when he scrambled his way to a 69, putting him at 2-under 142 and still very much alive in his quest to move to No. 1 in the world for the first time.

“This is a penalizing golf course to not play from the fairway,” Mickelson said. “And I certainly explored a lot of areas here. First 27 holes for me to keep it around par was a feat, and I drove it better the last nine holes. … I just want to be in a position where if I play like I know I can, I can make up some ground. And I feel like I’m within striking distance.”

Join the crowd.

Bryce Molder made an impressive debut in his first PGA Championship. He made five birdies in a six-hole stretch and wound up with a 67.

That put him in a large group at 5-under 139 that included 19-year-old S.Y. Noh (71), 21-year-old Rory McIlroy (68), short-hitting Zach Johnson (70) and big-hitting Dustin Johnson (68).

Dustin Johnson, the 54-hole leader in the U.S. Open until a memorable meltdown, made a sensational par save to start his day by blasting out of a bunker – one foot in the sand, one foot on a dune – from 50 yards away to about 10 feet. That was the 15th hole of the first round.

Equally memorable was the tee shot he blasted on the par-5 fifth hole, leaving him only a wedge from 149 yards and a 35-foot eagle putt that turned his fortunes.

“It fits me perfect,” he said when asked about the design of the fifth hole.

Chad Campbell had another 70 and was alone – at the moment – at 4-under 140. But of the 78 players who had to return at 7 a.m. Saturday to resume the second round – provided there’s no fog – Martin Laird and Francesco Molinari also were at 4 under.

Kuchar is No. 7 in the Ryder Cup standings, and no matter where he winds up when the cut is made Saturday, these were two big days toward securing a spot on his first team. He has called this a “great” year, referring to the eight top 10s, but he has yet to win.

Ernie Els began his day with a 5-wood for a second shot into the par-4 15th – “How about starting out on this?” he said as he walked off the green with a hard-earned par – and ended it with a double bogey on the final hole of his second round for a 74. He was in a large group at 2-under 142, yet found himself hopeful that Woods and the late starters didn’t get off the hook by a storm system that threatened all day.

“It would be a little unfair if these guys don’t play this afternoon if a weather system comes in and they get a quiet day tomorrow,” Els said. “Then, a lot of guys will lap us.”

Not to worry. The wind was whipping along Lake Michigan, and players were grinding.

Woods had to work harder than ever not to drop shots. The par 5s on the front nine continue to taunt him, especially No. 2. Woods drove into a steep bunker, then turned quickly when sand sprayed into his face on the second shot, which traveled about 90 yards right of the gallery. From a muddy cart path, he ripped a 3-wood to the right of the green and escaped with par.

Woods also made a par on No. 5, the easiest hole at Whistling Straits, which felt like losing a stroke to the field.

He slammed his driver to the turf after his tee shot sailed to the right on the sixth, and he was stewing when the birdie putt spun around the hole. Walking toward the parking lot in the twilight, Woods declined comment, while dozens of other players hurried to get home.

Just like the first two days, Saturday figured to be a marathon.

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.