Mahans 64 good for comeback WGC victory

By Doug FergusonAugust 9, 2010, 2:09 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125w

AKRON, Ohio – On a day when the two biggest names in golf played like weekend hackers, Hunter Mahan grabbed the lead midway through the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational and refused to let go.

Mahan shot a 6-under 64 on Sunday and made several huge swings down the stretch to hold off Ryan Palmer by two strokes for his third career win and a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“I was nervous,” said Mahan, a 28-year-old player who took the lead for good with his second straight birdie at the ninth hole. “I wanted it so bad and I was playing so good. I just didn’t want to make any bogeys. I didn’t want to give them any momentum out there.”

From there he played carefully but not conservatively, putting up eight pars and a birdie at the 13th hole.

At the par-5 16th, the signature “Monster” hole at Firestone Country Club, he hit a 5-wood second shot instead of laying up short of the large lake which fronts the green. He didn’t think it was much of a gamble.

“The thing was, there was no out of bounds anywhere – that we could see,” he said with a laugh. “The only place you couldn’t hit it was short, obviously. There’s just not a bad spot to be except exactly where I hit it.”

Mahan’s shot slid right of the green near a flower bed, and was stopped by a bush. He received a free drop, chipped onto the green, lagged a 60-foot putt to 2 feet and then tapped in for par. Two more pars left him at 12-under 268 and capped a huge comeback from a seven-shot deficit after the opening round. He played the final 27 holes in 10 under, without a bogey.

“To win is … the best feeling in the world,” he said. “To do it when you have to, when you’re kind of behind and you need to do something special and do it when you need it, to make putts like I needed to, it feels great.”

The $1.4 million check will go a long way toward a nice honeymoon when he and girlfriend Kandi Harris, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, get married in January.

Despite Mahan’s flawless play on Sunday, the tournament might be remembered for the failures of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Woods, a seven-time winner of the Bridgestone, had the worst tournament of his pro career, closing out a dreadful week with a 77 that left him at 298 and tied for next-to-last in the 80-player field. Struggling all week with every aspect of his game, he ended up 18 over, with 25 bogeys or worse, and finished 30 strokes behind Mahan – all career worsts.

Woods, whose world has turned upside down after revelations of marital infidelity, said he wasn’t surprised by how poorly he played.

“It’s been a long year,” he said simply.

With Woods struggling, Mickelson could have moved up a spot to become No. 1 in the world rankings. Instead, he also had an abysmal round, shooting a 78.

“You’re only as good as your last performance,” Mickelson said after falling from a tie for 10th place all the way to a tie for 46th. “This wasn’t very good.”

Meanwhile, others did well on a long course which should provide a good snapshot of what it’ll be like next week at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Palmer, tied with Sean O’Hair for the lead at the start of the final round, played the front side in 1 over. He birdied the next two holes and then parred out – never able to quite catch up with Mahan.

“It was a good day; I can’t be disappointed,” said Palmer, who had missed the cut in 10 of 12 events before the Bridgestone. “I finished second in a World Golf Championship and I played good today, being under the gun like I was. You’ve got to hand it to Hunter Mahan. He went out and did what I expected somebody to do and shot a low round. I didn’t lose the golf tournament.”

Retief Goosen (65) and Bo Van Pelt (67) shared third at 271. O’Hair’s closing 71 left him at 272. Jim Furyk, whose third shot to the green at the 16th hit the pin and ricocheted back into the water, had a 64 and shared sixth with Jeff Overton (69).

Amid all the wreckage left behind by Woods and Mickelson, Mahan stamped himself as one of the top young Americans in the game. He said a win like the Bridgestone changes everything.

“To win anytime on the PGA Tour is great, but an event like this, 80 of the best players in the world, this is something special,” he said. “All the players all over the world come here to play, and it’s definitely the best win of my career, for sure.”

Then, nodding to the unique Wedgewood urn that goes to the winner, he added, “And it’s probably the coolest trophy we get, too.”

It’ll make a nice wedding present.

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 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.