Notes: Harmon thinks Woodland can be world No. 1

By Doug FergusonJanuary 31, 2012, 11:59 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Gary Woodland was irritated that he couldn’t do better than a 70 on the North Course at Torrey Pines. It wasn’t much better on the South Course, where a 72 allowed him to make the cut on the number, and a 74 in the third round wasn’t enough for the 54-hole cut.

Then again, he realized it might take time for him to adjust to a new swing.

“I’m changing the whole path of the swing,” Woodland said. “I’d like to be ready for Augusta.”

Woodland already has gone through substantial changes off the course. When he left agent Blake Smith at Hambric Sports, he also wound up losing his swing coach - Randy Smith, the agent’s father. He left Kapalua at the start of the year and flew to Las Vegas, where he spent six straight days with Butch Harmon.

That he wants to be ready for the Masters would indicate an overhaul. Harmon says that isn’t the case.

“He’s been pretty one-dimensional,” Harmon said Tuesday. “We’re getting him to move the ball around, change his trajectory a little, change

the setup and the path of his swing and get more of a variety of shots, which he needs to have. We knew he wasn’t going to be very good last week. Finally, the last nine holes things were starting to click. But it’s going to take awhile.”

Harmon said Woodland is hitting the ball an extra 15 yards - “I know that’s hard to believe,” he said - to the point where he had to switch the model of his golf ball. Harmon liked the short game but is working on lowering the trajectory of his wedges.

“The kid has a chance to be the best player in the world,” Harmon said.

Asked if he knew it would be a big project, Harmon said, “I still don’t think it is.”

“The physical side is easy,” Harmon said. “It’s the mental side, the belief in what he’s doing. He’ll have to work on that. He’s good on the range.

He’s good in practice. But he reverts to his old stuff in tournaments because he doesn’t trust it.”

Harmon, who has cut down on his stable of clients over the year, now works with Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson. Asked who was the shortest hitter from that group, Harmon said, “Me.”


BEGAY HONORED: Notah Begay has been selected for the Charlie Bartlett Award, given by the Golf Writers Association of America to a professional golfer for unselfish contributions to improve society.

Begay is the only full-blooded Native American to win on the PGA Tour. He founded the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation in 2005 to battle the epidemic of childhood diabetes and obesity among Native Americans. He has raised more than $3.2 million in three years through his charity golf event.

Over the last three years, the foundation has reached more than 10,000 children in 11 states through golf, soccer, health and wellness and grant programs. The largest grant was to the San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico to build the tribe’s first recreation center.

Begay will be honored April 4 at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.


EYE ON ELS: Ernie Els has gone to a belly putter to see if he can improve on the greens. He also went to an eye doctor.

Els, who ranked No. 181 in putting last year on the PGA Tour, has consulted with Sherylle Calder, an eye specialist who also works with the Springboks, All Blacks and England rugby teams to help with hand-eye coordination, concentration and other visual performance aids.

“We’ve been working on some good stuff to do with my eyes, and I can see a lot of positives for me at the moment,” Els wrote on his website. “To use a cliche, she has literally opened my eyes about putting again, and it has helped bring back good memories of what I used to do when I was one of the best putters in the world in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“If my putting properly comes around, I can start winning golf tournaments again.”

Els is at No. 59 in the world and has to crack the top 50 after Bay Hill toward the end of March to secure a spot in the Masters. The first step is to stay among the top 65 for two more weeks and get into the Match Play Championship.


WORLD MONEY: Lee Westwood was No. 10 on the 2011 world money list compiled by “The World of Professional Golf” annual, making him the only player to finish in the top 10 the last three seasons.

Luke Donald was atop the world money list for the first time at just over $9.7 million, followed by U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy at about $7 million and Webb Simpson at just over $6.5 million. The other six players were Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, PGA champion Keegan Bradley, K.J. Choi, Gary Woodland and Martin Kaymer.

Only three players made the top 10 in consecutive seasons - Westwood, who fell from No. 2 to No. 10; Donald, who went from No. 4 to No. 1; and Kuchar, steady as ever in going from No. 6 to No. 4.


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods earned $137,041 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Throw out the majors and World Golf Championships, and it was his highest paycheck from an official tournament since he made $148,929 at the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship. … Ian Poulter, whose wife gave birth to a boy last week (their fourth child), is making his season debut in the Phoenix Open. Also playing in Phoenix is Arron Oberholser, trying to return from hand surgeries that have kept him out of golf since 2009. … Scott Piercy and Chris Kirk, both of whom are in the Phoenix Open, have not missed a tournament this year. Jhonattan Vegas and Michael Bradley also played the first four events, but they are taking this week off. … Luke Donald stopped by the PGA of America headquarters Tuesday to collect his trophies for the Vardon Trophy and the points-based player of the year award.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans have won the first four events on the PGA Tour schedule for the first time since 2001.


FINAL WORD: “I think the players should have less say. We’re not experts at figuring out how the tour works. We’re experts at hitting golf shots.”— Stewart Cink on the debate over proposed changes to the Nationwide Tour and Q-school.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.