McDowell, Dufner share early lead at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 23, 2012, 8:06 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Graeme McDowell is in a better place than he was a year ago, starting with a 17-shot improvement at Bay Hill.

McDowell had an eagle-par-birdie finish Friday for a 9-under 63, giving him a share of the lead with Jason Dufner among the early starters in the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Tiger Woods, who teed off in the afternoon, ran off four straight birdies and shot 32 on the front nine to get in the mix.

McDowell faced an impossible encore at this time a year ago. He was the U.S. Open champion, the Ryder Cup hero in Wales, and he finished his dream season with a record comeback against Woods.

He knew something was wrong when he opened with an 80 at Bay Hill and missed the cut.

“That 80 was a wake-up call, but I didn’t wake up for another four months or so,” McDowell said. “It was more of the panic button. It was a pretty awful four or five months for me.

“But like I say, I feel like you learn more from those types of experiences than you do from shooting 63 at Bay Hill. There’s not much to learn out there except that if you play great and hole some putts, you can go low.”

That’s just what he did.

Dufner set the early pace until he tried to reach the par-5 sixth green with a 3-wood, misjudged the wind and went into the water. He had to scramble for a bogey, though he still managed a 69.

Dufner and McDowell were at 9-under 135, and then it was a matter of seeing if that were good enough for the lead.

McDowell opened with a 72 and felt he had played well, except for making the putts. He made up for that on another warm day at Bay Hill. After a pair of tap-in birdies, he rolled in a 25-foot putt on the seventh and a 30-foot birdie putt on the eighth. He saved his best golf for the end of the round, with an approach to 8 feet for eagle on the 16th and another fine approach over the water to 10 feet on the last.

“Shooting 63 on a golf course like this is always a lot of fun,” McDowell said. “It’s a golf course that I feel like I can get it around.”

McDowell shot a 66 in the final round the first time he played Bay Hill, which turned out to be enough to get him into the Masters for the first time. Even though he has missed the cut the last two years, he still has some good memories.

He also has a lot of work in front him.

Dufner has looked solid through the Florida swing. If the lead holds, it would be the fifth time in 14 rounds in Florida that he has been atop the leaderboard – yet never on a Sunday. Dufner is still looking for his first PGA Tour win.

“The biggest thing is I’m just really comfortable with where my game is at right now,” Dufner said. I think any given day, I can go out and shoot 5 or 6 under, do it pretty comfortably. If the putter were to get hot, I feel like I could shoot some lower scores.

“There has not been a lot of stressful situations that last two or three weeks.”

Sergio Garcia shot a 67 and was in the group at 5-under 139 that included Bubba Watson (70) and past champion Vijay Singh (68). Ian Poulter and defending champion Martin Laird were at 140.

“If you were swinging well, you could score out there,” Garcia said.

For McDowell, it was a case of managing his expectations, and after a year like 2010, that was difficult. Suddenly, he was among the top 10 players in the world and felt he was supposed to perform at his best on every shot, at every tournament.

He recalled reading a book by sports psychologist Bob Rotella, in which a U.S. Women’s Open champion started judging every shot by her status as a major champion.

“Your expectation levels crank up and your patience levels crank down, and you have to balance those out,” he said. “I didn’t accept my mistakes last year. I didn’t accept hitting bag shots. It’s all in the 6 inches between the ears. It’s a game played in the head, for sure.”

Now, he goes into the first major of the year in a better place.

McDowell has decided not to go to Augusta National until the week of the Masters. He is playing Bay Hill and the Houston Open, and it’s his plan this year to play the week before every major to see what kind of competitive shape he’s in.

When he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he took the week off the week before. Then again, he was coming off a win at the Wales Open, “so I had a little bit of partying to do and I needed a week off to do that.”

“I knew my game was there,” he said. “I’m the type of animal who needs to know where I’m at, and putting a card in my pocket is the only way I can do that.”

And if he were to win Bay Hill? Would he need time to celebrate?

“Yeah, but I can do that quickly on Sunday night,” said McDowell, who lives at Lake Nona. “My local pub is only 20 minutes away.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

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

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.