Notes: Caddie wants another shot; Tiger's woes

By Doug FergusonNovember 1, 2011, 8:07 pm

SHANGHAI – After spending nearly a decade as a caddie, one tough year wasn’t enough to keep Brett Waldman from another shot at trying to make it as a player.

Waldman gave up his job as the caddie for Camilo Villegas last year when he made it to the final stage of Q-school, giving him status on the Nationwide Tour. It didn’t quite turn out the way he had hoped. After making the cut in his debut in Panama, Waldman went six months and 14 tournaments before making another check.

He finished his first year at No. 193 on the Nationwide Tour money list with $6,958 - about half of what he used to earn in one week as the caddie for Villegas.

“When I was missing all those cuts in a row, I definitely was missing caddying,” Waldman said from his home near Dallas.

He decided to start over, and a bogey-free round of 68 in the final round two weeks ago was enough to make it out of the first stage of Q-school. He returns to the TPC Craig Ranch in two weeks for the second stage.

“I worked so hard to get my game in shape, and it didn’t come into shape until the end of the year,” Waldman said. “I just wasn’t in any tournaments. I was fully exempt, but only for 10 events, which was my own fault. I made one cut out of 10, and my status dropped by like 35 players. I was in events easily, and then I had a hard time getting in. Therefore, I had to Monday qualify or get an exemption.”

A year ago, Waldman felt as though he couldn’t pass up a chance at playing pro golf. It might be different this year if he makes it through to the final stage, but still has only Nationwide Tour status.

He made it through the year, but financially says he “took a pretty good hit.”

If he were to get his PGA Tour card, he would come out to the arena where he once only caddied. But to spend another year in the minor leagues might be difficult if he started getting phone calls from players looking for a caddie.

“Getting a good bag is always tempting,” he said. “Especially after a year like this.”


MIXING IT UP: For the first time since 2003, the majors were won by players who had never won one before. Throw in the World Golf Championships, and it’s evident that 2011 was the year of the breakthrough.

First-time major winners were Charl Schwartzel at the Masters, Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open, Darren Clarke at the British Open and Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship.

Luke Donald won his first WGC event in February at the Match Play Championship, followed by Nick Watney collecting his first world championship at Doral a month later. At Firestone, Adam Scott kept the streak alive by capturing his first WGC event.

Since the WGCs began in 1999, there was never a year in which first-timers won the majors and WGCs.


HARD KNOX: Russell Knox started the year with no status on any tour. He wound up at No. 12 on the Nationwide Tour to earn his shot in the big leagues, a spot he never imagined when he was toiling away in the north of Scotland and wondering if he belonged.

Knox recalls being selected to play for Scotland in a European junior event in Spain, where he saw Rory McIlroy as a teenager and played on the same team as Lloyd Saltman.

“I remember being on the range thinking to myself, ‘These guys are way better than me.’ Watching them hit it, the sound off the club was different,” Knox said. “That was my moment. I thought, ‘OK, I have to significantly improve from now or I might as well give up.”’

And so he went to work, earning a golf scholarship to Jacksonville University, working at a local golf course and doing well enough on the mini-tours that he could pay his own way as he kept his hopes alive.

Knox, who relies more on accuracy than length, got into the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook through Monday qualifying (he missed the cut), then headed west and tried to Monday qualify at a Nationwide event in northern California. He earned one of the spots, tied for second in the Fresh Express Classic to get status for the year, and won three months later in Chiquita Classic in Ohio.

The highlight was getting a letter from Arnold Palmer congratulating him on his win. Palmer’s design company built the TPC River Bend course on which he won.

“My dad is a huge Palmer fan, and he didn’t believe it,” Knox said.

Knox still has a hard time believing that the Scottish kid who once thought he wasn’t good enough will be teeing it up in Honolulu next year as a full member of the PGA Tour.

“It won’t sink in until I’m on the first tee and the heart is pounding,” Knox said. “I still can’t believe I’m going to have that. I can’t wait for the chance to see if I’m good enough.”


HIDDEN TIGER: Tiger Woods has gone two years without a win, and his fall from the top of golf has been illustrated by his failure to qualify for the Tour Championship in 2010 for the first time in his career, and his failure this season to even reach the FedEx Cup playoffs, giving him a forced six-week break.

This week presents another first in the worst kind of way. Even though Woods had no intentions of playing the HSBC Champions, this is the first time he has not been eligible to play a World Golf Championship. This from a guy who has won 15 of the WGC events.

Woods slipped to No. 56 in the world ranking this week. He has only two tournaments left this year, then as many as two events next year to make sure he doesn’t miss another WGC. Only the top 64 in the world ranking get to the Match Play Championship.


DIVOTS: Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, advanced to the second stage of Q-school after being the medalist at one of the seven first-stage qualifiers. Among those who failed to get out of the first stage were former U.S. Amateur champion Byeong-Hun An and Kevin Tway. … J.J. Killeen won the Nationwide Tour money list with $414,273. It was the lowest amount to win the money title since Ken Duke had $382,443 in 2006. … The John Deere Classic, which had a $4.5 million purse, raised $5.29 million for local charities this year. … The Nationwide Tour Championship will return to the TPC Craig Ranch outside of Dallas next year. … Tom Lehman will have a chance this week to be the first player to be named player of the year on the Nationwide Tour, PGA Tour and Champions Tour.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Webb Simpson shot every round in the 60s at eight PGA Tour events this year. He won two of those.


FINAL WORD: “I used to fly coach and didn’t like it. And then somebody told me I should try playing better.” - Ian Poulter.

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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.