Notes: Open qualifying leaves young players out

By Doug FergusonJuly 1, 2014, 11:48 pm

The British Open this year decided to scrap its 36-hole qualifiers on the European Tour and PGA Tour in favor of what effectively is 72-hole qualifiers. Four leading players from the top 12 on the leaderboard at Congressional and the Greenbrier earn spots. In Europe, the leading three players from the Irish Open, French Open and Scottish Open get into The Open. The John Deere Classic gets one spot.

It's the same amount of qualifying spots as were available last year through both 36-hole qualifiers.

But it eliminates any chance for Tour players, or for some of the top college players who turn pro in the summer. The only chance they have to qualify - without a trip across the Atlantic - is to get a spot in the PGA Tour (or European Tour) fields.

''These matters have been very much considered by the European Tour and the PGA Tour, and their request certainly has been to evolve from what we were with the 36-hole stand-alone into the series we have now,'' R&A executive director Michael Tate said Tuesday. ''They don't have that simple opportunity. They can, of course, still travel to the UK and qualify. But I understand how difficult that is.

''I think in the world of the game of golf, what we achieved and what we are doing now is probably correct.''

Indeed, 288 players currently are playing for 12 spots at four regional spots in Britain the next two days. A decade ago, local qualifying was the only way into The Open, and it was held the weekend before the championship.

MATCH PLAY: There's still no word on a title sponsor, though the Match Play Championship at least has a spot on the 2015 schedule.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Harding Park will host the Match Play next year. The only open date for it is May 13-17, when the weather is ideal in the Bay Area. It would be a huge coup for Harding Park, which also is getting the PGA Championship in 2020 and the Presidents Cup in 2025.

It would be the second World Golf Championship for Harding Park. Tiger Woods beat John Daly in the American Express Championship in 2015.

A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday. The PGA Tour had no comment.

The Match Play Championship had been held the last eight years at Dove Mountain north of Tucson, Arizona, and the field was beginning to lose top stars amid complaints of the golf course. Among those who missed last year were Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson.

A move to San Francisco would cause a lot of congestion for May. It would follow the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and The Players Championship in Florida. The PGA Tour would go from California to Texas the next two weeks.

And it would be a big dose of golf for San Francisco, one of the country's great golf markets. Already on tap for 2015 is the LPGA Tour event at Lake Merced, which was played this year the last weekend in April; and the new U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship the first week of May at The Olympic Club.

WATSON'S HOPES: Tom Watson has played 36 times in the British Open, but only four rounds at Royal Liverpool. That's mainly because it was out of the Open rotation from 1967 until 2006. Watson tied for 48th with no rounds in the 60s in 2006.

But he saw enough of it to believe that age 64, he can contend - especially if it's firm.

Watson concedes that he doesn't have the distance to compete with players more than half of his age. Then again, Tiger Woods only used a driver one time when he won eight years ago.

''One of the things about playing Hoylake is I don't hit the ball far enough to have to lay up with the driver,'' he said. ''So go ahead and hit the driver. The driver is one of the strong suits of my game, so that fits right in against some of the kids. They have to kind of guess what to lay up with. I just go ahead and hit the driver out there. The course plays simpler for me than it does the kids.''

LPGA SELFIE: Karrie Webb took a selfie when she won the JTBC Founders Cup, not realizing how quickly it would catch on.

It now is one of the best traditions going in golf.

LPGA photographer Gabe Roux shot the photo of Webb taking her own picture with her cellphone, and the LPGA immediately posted it to its social media channels. Since then, every LPGA Tour winner has taken a selfie with the trophy.

That included Michelle Wie at the U.S. Women's Open, and the USGA asked the LPGA to be sure to tag them to the photo on Twitter.

SLOW START: Justin Rose opened with a 74 on his way to a playoff win at the Quicken Loans National. That was the highest first-round score by a PGA Tour winner this year. And it was only the second time a player shot over par in the opening round and went on to win.

John Senden opened with a 1-over 72 when he won the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, and Adam Scott shot a 1-over 71 when he won at Colonial.

DIVOTS: Henrik Stenson, who lived in Dubai with his family before moving to Orlando, Florida, has signed a two-year partnership with Jumeirah Golf Estates. ... Justin Thomas has shot par or better in 39 of his 41 rounds on the Tour this year. The exceptions were both 1-over 73 in the third round in Panama and Midland, Texas. He is 78-under par for the year and No. 7 on the money list, virtually assured of a PGA Tour card next season. ... Jimmy Walker has been atop the FedEx Cup all but one week this year. Walker and Bubba Watson (No. 2) are playing The Greenbrier Classic this week. ... No one had a bogey-free round at Congressional on the weekend.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Martin Kaymer won The Players Championship and Bernhard Langer won the Senior Players Championship, the first time the winners have come from the same country other than the United States.

FINAL WORD: ''You get used to scoring how you're scoring.'' - Geoff Ogilvy, who has only four scores in the 60s in his last 28 rounds on the PGA Tour.

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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.