Nicklaus skips St Andrews to preserve memory

By Doug FergusonJune 3, 2010, 2:55 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – The British Open this year will feature a four-hole exhibition with all its past champions, from Seve Ballesteros to Tiger Woods to Nick Faldo.

Among the few missing will be Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus was criticized in the British press for saying he would only go to St. Andrews this year if his sponsor, Royal Bank of Scotland, wanted him there for a corporate function.

RBS doesn’t have any plans for Nicklaus, and Nicklaus doesn’t have any plans to play.

But it’s not the money or the hassle. Nicklaus said he simply doesn’t want to tarnish the warm feelings he had from 2005, when he chose St. Andrews as the final major he played.

“It was my last time being involved in a major. It was perfect,” Nicklaus said.

He said he has a contract with RBS to entertain clients at various tournaments, and he told them he really didn’t want to return to St. Andrews for the British Open this year. RBC honored his request.

“I go to the Masters, but the Masters is different,” Nicklaus said, alluding to the annual tradition of the Champions Dinner, the proximity to his home in south Florida and playing the Par 3 Tournament. “St. Andrews is where I finished by my career. That’s got a special feeling and I want to keep that feeling.”

Nicklaus said he called Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson a few weeks ago to let him know he wasn’t coming, and why.

“He said, ‘I suspect that’s the reason. I honor that, respect that and I’ll support that,”’ Nicklaus said.

TIGER’S INJURY: Tiger Woods wonders if his neck injury was a case of doing too much too soon.

He said there wasn’t a single moment where it began to hurt, rather an accumulation of hitting so many balls after being away from the game for the better part of four months.

“Because I’d taken so much time off and way away from the game and didn’t do anything that physically resembled the game of golf, then come back and try and hit the same amount of golf balls that I was hitting right before the Aussie Masters, I wasn’t physically ready for it,” he said. “And the body started breaking down, and I just started playing through it.”

Woods said he assumed the pain would go away.

“Just never got better,” he said.

Woods said he puts ice on his neck and does strengthening exercises to get the right muscles working.

One reporter asked Woods why he wasn’t more forthcoming with his neck injury before he had to pull out of The Players Championship.

“You don’t need to know,” he said.

MUIRFIELD CHANGES: Jack Nicklaus is always tinkering with his beloved Muirfield Village, trying to get it just right, and the next change could be one of the biggest. After the Memorial, he’s going to build a different 16th hole.

Nicklaus said there’s nothing wrong with the par 3 except that it didn’t add to the drama of the closing holes. In his typical harsh assessment, he said of the 16th hole, “It’s a nice way to get to the 17th tee.”

Bringing the Presidents Cup to his course made the decision easy.

“When they play the Presidents Cup, most of your matches are going to end around the 15th, 16th hole. So the bulk of your gallery is going to be out there,” Nicklaus said. “We need to expand our gallery situation in that area.”

To do that, he plans to extend a small lake all the way down the left side of the hole. With so much water, he thought the hole should play a little shorter, and that the green should be moved more to the right.

“It will create a much bigger amphitheater and create more space for people,” he said. “So it will be a win-win for the thing. Yes, we’re going to spend some money in there, but I think no longer will it be a way to get from 15 green to 17 tee. It will be a really good golf hole, and the gallery situation will be unbelievable.”

It wasn’t just the Presidents Cup that led to this change. Nicklaus said a new 16th has been in the works, but he thought it would send the wrong message if people were hurting because of the economy and Muirfield Village was building a new hole.

“I didn’t think that the economy was right to be spending money on the golf course out here for a golf tournament, and I think that the economy is recovering,” he said. “I think we’re moving more in the right direction. And I wanted to get it done while I was still around.”

SCOTT’S YEAR: Adam Scott might have hit his low point at Muirfield Village a year ago. He opened with a 77, then followed that with an 81 to miss the cut by nine shots.

Even more irritating was missing the cut by far less.

“I felt like I lost so much confidence by missing the cut by one each week, rather than just making it,” he said. “You miss the cut by one, you may as well miss by 10. You’re not playing. I was so close all the time, but I lost a lot of confidence from that.”

One shot changed everything.

Scott was at the Singapore Open, struggling to make the cut. He thought he needed to finish with a par to make the cut on the number, and he hit 7-iron to a foot. Turns out that birdie allowed him to make the cut. He had a great weekend and finished third.

Some six weeks later, he won the Australian Open, his first professional victory in his home country. Then came another victory three weeks ago at the Texas Open, and Scott says he is headed in the right direction.

“All the things that I’ve dealt with and learned and put behind me and moved through is going to show up in my game over the next six months or a year or five years,” Scott said. “I think I can be a much, much better player than I was before, even when I was playing my best golf.”

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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 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.