Notes Finchem in China Caddie of the Year
Small wonder some referred to it as the start of the PGA Tour’s “Asian invasion.”
Finchem said his 18-day trip to Asia – part of it a vacation with his wife, Holly – was to meet sponsors and clients he had not visited in some time, and to meet potential customers. Even so, his comments at a Sunday news conference led to one question.
Where will all this lead?
This was the first World Golf Championship in China, even though the PGA Tour does not yet recognize it as official and might not for a few years. Finchem said it “may evolve in the next two or three years.” How that will make a difference remains a mystery unless he’s waiting for more PGA Tour-sanctioned events in Asia.
Finchem said he has been speaking with Zhang Xiaonang, executive vice president of the China Golf Association, about three ways to grow the game – through a First Tee facility in China, by getting the tour involved in building TPC golf courses and helping stage tournaments.
Finchem said Zhang has asked whether the PGA Tour could sanction an event, and that the tour has agreed to work with “other members” of the International Federation of PGA Tours.
That includes European Tour chief executive George O’Grady, who already has established a presence in China and elsewhere in Asia, and the Asian Tour, which is battling with OneAsia for support from the China Golf Association.
One thing appeared certain: While the world of golf is larger than ever, it can appear to be shrinking. Three tours (Europe, Asian, United States) indeed can make for a crowd.
CADDIE OF THE YEAR: In one of the best evenings in golf, Billy Foster was awarded the “Caddie of the Year” on the European Tour for his work with Lee Westwood on and off the golf course.
It was a festive occasion for the caddies, with lesser awards handed out for such things as best club selection and best excuse. Westwood helped host the evening with Sky Sports commentator Richard Boxall, but perhaps even more impressive was a dozen tour players who stayed well into the evening, such as Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, and even Americans Nick Watney and Brian Gay.
Foster, who also has caddied for Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke and even at a Presidents Cup for Tiger Woods, has been on the bag as Westwood leads the Race to Dubai with two tournaments left. In July, he raised about $130,000 for charity by walking from Loch Lomond to Turnberry with Westwood’s golf bag on his back.
OGILVY’S CLUBS: Geoff Ogilvy will be switching over to Titleist for the 2010 season.
Ogilvy’s deal with Cobra expires this year, and parent company Acushnet is moving away from a Cobra presence on tour. Ogilvy, who has won three World Golf Championships and a U.S. Open in the last four years, said it was a sensible move.
“It’s in the family,” he said, noting Titleist also is under the Acushnet umbrella and he would continue playing the ball. “If you’re going to be making a change from one manufacturer to another, that’s the least stressful.”
He said he has been practicing with a new blade from Titleist, and that the only significant change would be the driver.
APPLEBY’S YEAR: Stuart Appleby, who lives in Orlando, Fla., is No. 134 on the money list and could have kept his card by finishing at least 15th at Disney this week in the final PGA Tour event of the year.
Appleby also is from Australia, and he decided against Disney to play at Kingston Heath in the Australian Masters this year.
He said Tuesday it was an easy choice.
“I already had plans for my junior foundation, and Tiger has committed to spend an hour with the kids, which is awesome,” Appleby said. “Plus, I think this is one of the top two courses in the world. I really had more to gain than lose.”
Appleby has not decided whether to use one of his exemptions from the career money list, preferring to save them for later. He said he would let the Tour know in two weeks. Appleby might spend 2010 asking for sponsor exemptions, which shouldn’t be too hard to find for an eight-time winner who has not finished lower than 55th on the money list since his rookie season.
As to what happened this year, he isn’t quite sure.
“I think I just fell into some bad habits,” Appleby said. “I forgot about the innocence of playing golf. I spent too much time trying to fix something. It was like a year of the dog chasing his tail.”
MIA DOWN UNDER: Robert Allenby made history Down Under in 2005 as the only player to win the Australian Triple Crown – victories in the Masters, PGA and Australian Open.
He won’t be able to repeat that this year. The Melbourne native is not playing any of them.
Allenby has played the last three weeks on the European Tour – Spain, Singapore and Shanghai – and needed a week off before the Dubai World Championship. He also decided to play in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, opposite the Australian Open.
As for the Australian PGA the following week? Allenby said he needed to spend time with his ailing mother-in-law, although he had problems last year with how the tournament was run.
DIVOTS: Steve Marino finished his week in China and headed home to rest before venturing out again. He is playing consecutive weeks in December at the Australian Open and the Australian PGA. “I think it will be cool,” Marino said. “You’ve got to do this while you’re young.” … The Australian Masters was added to the European tour schedule last month, giving Rod Pampling (No. 71) one last chance to crack into the top 60 and qualify for the Dubai World Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has never finished out of the top 10 in stroke play at the World Golf Championships.
FINAL WORD: “Getting away from golf is good for you. It gets the grumps out of you.” – Geoff Ogilvy.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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.