Notes Iraq veteran gets golfing thrill
Damien Jordan, the last player to get into the field, was worth getting to know.
The 29-year-old rookie fulfilled one part of his dream by making it through Q-School last year on the Australasian Tour, a goal that had been put on hold when he enlisted in the Army and served two tours in Iraq.
The first tour was for five months in 2002, and he returned in 2005 for a seven-month tour of more heavy combat. He left the Army a year later, and took two years to polish his game. If anything, it has given him a different perspective than most.
“Regardless of what happens, I know I’ll go home at the end of the day and have a hot shower, have a good feed,” he said. “Half the time you’re over there, you’re thinking, ‘This could be the time when an IED goes off and I’m not going home.''
Jordan’s parents introduced him to golf at a young age, and he was slowly developing into a decent golfer when he felt compelled to join the Army, serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.
“A lot of people before me have given their lives for the country, and I thought, ‘Why should I be different and not put my end up?’' Jordan said. “That’s what I did. I met a lot of good mates, a lot of friends for life, and it made me stronger out here.”
Even now, he faces a struggle different from most.
He said his time in the Army cost him his marriage, which Jordan said was one of the untold statistics of Army life. He spends as much time as he can with his two daughters, ages 2 and 3.
Jordan said he will take medication the rest of his life to cope with the dreams, and he continues to see a psychiatrist twice a month.
“Even smells can bring it back,” he said. “I walked into a fruit and vegetable shop, and there had been an Iraqi shop that had the same incense going,” he said. “That made it tough. It was exactly the same. I’m trying to get away from stuff like that.”
Jordan mostly played the pro-am circuit this year in Australia, in which amateurs put up the purse while playing with the pros. It would be comparable to a mini-tour in the United States, and Jordan won eight tournaments.
The Australian Masters was his first event that counted on the world ranking. He opened with a 69 before falling well back and finishing toward the bottom of the leaderboard.
Asked for his greatest moment in golf, he smiled.
“Playing here, mate,” he said. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my golf career. To make the cut, and to be out here, is just brilliant. And I got to see Tiger. To play in the field with anyone of that stature is phenomenal.”
Jordan was not sure if he would get into the Australian Open or the Australian PGA Championship next month. Asked for his ultimate goal, he did not mention winning or even playing a particular tournament.
“Just keep living the dream, doing what I’m doing,” Jordan said. “Every day is a win for me.”
RACE TO DUBAI: The European Tour has four players in position to win the Race to Dubai, which features a $7.5 million bonus pool in addition to the $7.5 million purse this week at the Dubai World Championship.
Rory McIlroy, the 20-year-old from Northern Ireland, moved atop the standings with his runner-up finish last week in Hong Kong, putting him about $190,000 ahead of Lee Westwood. They are followed by Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher.
Paul Casey is fifth in the standings, but has withdrawn with a recurring rib injury.
PRESIDENTS CUP: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the Tour has agreed to look into the possibility of staging the Presidents Cup in China in 2019, which he said might be enough time for China to set a goal of having a player capable of competing in the matches, or worthy enough to be a captain’s pick.
If that’s the case, it would leave 2015 open for an international venue.
Finchem is intrigued by the idea that the Presidents Cup head to South America in 2015, one year before golf returns to the Olympic program in Brazil. Golf is only guaranteed the 2016 and 2020 Olympics before another vote of confirmation. It is important that golf put on a good show in Rio.
“We can’t just show up and say, ‘We’re here,'' Finchem said.
The Nationwide Tour is headed to Colombia next year, home country of Camilo Villegas. One problem is that the best players from South America are coming from Argentina – two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Andres Romero, Ricardo Gonzalez, Daniel Vancsik and Estanislao Goya. Argentina held a wildly successful World Cup, won by Tiger Woods and David Duval, in 2000.
“Will that help with an Olympics in Brazil? I don’t know,” Finchem said.
He said the first priority before South America – perhaps Brazil, in this case – can be considered for a Presidents Cup is getting more golf courses built.
TIGER’S CHECK: Depending on the exchange rate when the check was written, Tiger Woods earned a little more than $250,000 for his victory in the Australian Masters, which was the sixth-lowest winning check of his career.
Two of those checks came on the PGA Tour.
Woods earned $216,000 for winning at Disney in 1996 and the Mercedes Championship at La Costa to open the next season. The tour negotiated its new TV deal later that year, and prize money took off a few years later.
The smallest check was $48,450 in 1997 for winning the Asian Honda Classic, followed by $190,798 for winning the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2000. Woods also received only $223,061 for winning the Johnnie Walker in 1998.
Of course, he received appearance fees that dwarfed the total purse in those overseas events.
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods earned 28 world ranking points with his victory in the Australian Masters, the fewest for any victory since he received 24 in the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic. … There were 91 players who earned over $1 million on the PGA Tour, the fewest since 78 players in 2005. … The PGA Tour had 13 playoffs this year, three short of the record last set in 1991.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Adam Scott tied for third in Singapore and tied for sixth in Australia. It was the first time he had top-10s in consecutive tournaments since May 2008.
FINAL WORD: “I’m definitely playing well. I haven’t missed a cut since Tiger invited me to his tournament. But unfortunately, it’s not about missing cuts out here.” – Chris Riley, who failed to finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list to keep his card.
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.