McIlroy tries to buck MC trend at Memorial

By Doug FergusonMay 30, 2012, 11:09 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Rory McIlroy is playing more golf than he planned going into his title defense at the U.S. Open.

Just not on the right days.

McIlroy lost his No. 1 ranking – and briefly lost his composure – by missing consecutive cuts at two big tournaments at The Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where frustrations boiled over to the point that he tossed a 6-iron after an errant shot.

If nothing else, it was a wake-up call for McIlroy.

''When you've went on a run when you've hardly finished outside the top five, and then all of a sudden two missed cuts, it's more of a shock than anything else,'' McIlroy said Wednesday. ''Just a little bit surprising, and it's something I haven't really had to deal with in a while, and I just have to knuckle down and figure it out and get back to the way I was at the start of the year.''

He can only hope the Memorial is the start of another big run.

Most of the game's best players are at Muirfield Village, a popular spot because Jack Nicklaus is the tournament host and a good location on the schedule with the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club only two weeks away.

It's the strongest field of a regular PGA Tour event this year, featuring McIlroy, world No. 1 Luke Donald, defending champion Steve Stricker and Masters champion Bubba Watson, along with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

McIlroy added the St. Jude Classic next week as he tries to find a form that suddenly went missing.

''I just feel like I need more rounds,'' he said. ''These two-day weeks aren't really that good for me.''

He has lost his No. 1 ranking (again) to Donald. He has lost out on a chance to play on the weekend. He has not lost his perspective, his refreshing honesty and some of that self-deprecating humor. By playing next week in Memphis, that means McIlroy will not see Olympic until he arrives for the U.S. Open.

''I'm planning on ... getting there on Sunday night. Do you know what I mean,'' he said with a smile, another dig at himself by suggesting that he hopes to be playing on the weekend at the St. Jude Classic.

McIlroy, who turned 23 earlier this month, already is getting the scrutiny that has accompanied Woods his entire career, and Mickelson when he went a decade without winning a major. It was big news when he missed the cut at Sawgrass as the No. 1 player, and even bigger news when he tossed the club at Wentworth on his way to missing the cut by a mile.

He gets just as much attention off the course for going to Italy after The Players Championship and to Paris for a day after missing the cut at Wentworth to see his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

''Last week I threw my 6-iron on the 12th hole, and I didn't think it was that big of a deal,'' McIlroy said. ''And then I wake up the next morning and it's all over the papers in the U.K. And I'm just like, 'Oh, my god.' It's just one of those things, and it's something I'm going to have to deal with and learn how to do.''

Donald, even though he has been at No. 1 for all but two months of the last two years, doesn't face this kind of constant scrutiny. Even so, he remembers what it was like to be 23 and seeking to find a balance between a girlfriend and golf and everything else that goes into trying to be the best.

''You can't blame the kid,'' Donald said. ''But he's obviously realized that, and it looks like he's trying to focus on practicing a little bit harder and getting back to what he does. It's a tough game. Certainly for me, from a personal standpoint, if I don't put the work in, I'm not going to get the results. Rory sounds like he's got to that point where everything has been pretty easy up until this point, and he's come into a little bit of a bad run of form. This game does that to you.

''It's a fickle game, and it's tough,'' he said. ''You've just got to work through it.''

McIlroy is working. Despite all the attention on his quick trip to the Paris, he spent some seven hours on the range at Wentworth the day after missing the cut. He put in a full day at the gym Sunday, practiced for six hours with swing coach Michael Bannon on Tuesday and was back on the range at Muirfield Village after his pro-am.

McIlroy said he looked at old video with Bannon in his hotel room to seek out flaws. He thinks he found them and now is working to get back to where he was.

Along the way, he found time for some important matters.

A year ago, he went to Haiti on a UNICEF trip to meet with kids who survived the earthquake. McIlroy always has time for kids, perhaps because he still feels like one himself. At Quail Hollow this year, where he was in a three-man playoff won by Rickie Fowler, McIlroy filmed a commercial with a 7-year-old undergoing chemotherapy.

And at the Memorial, he met a young boy named Tucker before his pro-am round as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tucker had two open-heart surgeries before he was 6. McIlroy met him later on the range and watched him hit balls.

''I started to give him some advice and he started to not hit so well, so I just shut up,'' McIlroy said.

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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.

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 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.