Padraig Harrington stays on top at Firestone

By Doug FergusonAugust 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Having played two of his best rounds of the year at the Bridgestone Invitational, Padraig Harrington is willing to settle for something less on the weekend.
Ill take two more times under 70 on the weekend and well see how we get on, Harrington said Friday after following a 64 with a 1-under 69 to grab a one-shot lead over Tim Clark.
Paddy Harrington at WGC_Bridgestone Invitational
Padraig Harrington is rounding into form just in time to defend his championship next week at Hazeltine. (Getty Images)

Harrington, winless in official tour events since last years PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, was at 7-under 133. He led by two strokes after an opening 64, then came back with a 69, putting up subpar scores in consecutive rounds for the first time in four months.
Clark shot a 69 to stay in second place, and Scott Verplank was alone in third with his own 69 to get to 135.
Tiger Woods, chasing his seventh win in the Bridgestone, had an even-par 70 and was tied for 13th, five shots back. It is the first time he has ever been out of the top 10 after a round at Firestone Country Club.
The conditions might change soon. Thunderstorms were predicted for the weekend, which could change the dynamics on a course where the greens have gotten progressively harder and faster. With the Firestone South layout stretching to 7,400 yards, any substantial rainfall would likely make the course seem longer.
Harringtons drought coincided with swing changes he implemented after winning last years PGA, his third victory in five major championships.
Seldom in contention over the past few months, the Irishman conceded he is was overly afraid to make mistakes on Friday.
Thats always natural whenever youre out there in front, he said. Youre always cautious that, yes, youd like some birdies, but youre always aware that you dont want to drop shots. There were times that I was a little bit conservative.
In the final two rounds, he said he would pick his spots to take chances ' even though he didnt think anyone would be going terribly low at Firestone.
I just need to trust myself a little bit more, be a little more positive and hit the shots, he said.
More than most, Woods knows what Harrington has faced while tinkering with his swing. He has had doubters when he has reconstructed his.
You have to believe in what youre doing, absolutely. And you have to believe in what youre doing is right ' even though people tell you what youre doing is wrong, Woods said. Youve got to have the internal resolve to stick with what you believe is going to be right, and youre going to get better.
Neither Clark nor Verplank have won this year on the PGA Tour, either, although Clark made it to a playoff at the Colonial before losing to Steve Stricker.
The South African had never cracked the top 45 at Firestone the first four times he played it. But he has had a tie for sixth and a tie for 20th the last two years.
Clark admits that hes learned how to approach the layout.
I always used to try and do too much, he said. The last few years Ive realized you just have to get it in play, get it in the fairway, and from there you have a chance.
Verplank, whose best finish this year is a tie for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, ran off 35 holes without a bogey until hitting it into the trees at the 18th on Friday.
I love coming here, particularly when its dry like this, Verplank said. The golf course sets up really good for me when it plays kind of firm and fast. When it starts raining and gets real soggy, then it starts getting a little bit too long for me.
Thats the worry for anyone who isnt a long hitter.
Prayad Marksaeng (70), Stricker (69) and Jerry Kelly (65) were at 136, with Woody Austin (68), Alvaro Quiros (65), Zach Johnson (70), Hunter Mahan (69), Mike Weir (66) and Robert Allenby (69) another shot back.
Woods is hanging around, too. His rounds of 68-70 match what he had the last time he played at Firestone two years ago when he ended up winning by eight shots. Woods missed the Bridgestone a year ago while recuperating from knee surgery.
You just have to be patient, said Woods, coming off a win at the Buick Open.
Asked if someone could shoot a 62 or 63 and pull away, Woods cracked, Yeah, its out there ' if you play 16 or 17 holes you can get it.
Just a shot behind Woods was Phil Mickelson in his return to the tour after spending six weeks with his wife as she fights breast cancer. Mickelson was encouraged by how things have developed the first two days ' and what it might portend for next weeks PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
The grass length is the same, the rough is similar, green surfaces are similar, same speed, same grass, said Mickelson, who toured Hazeltine last week. It couldnt be a better venue (to prepare) for Hazeltine.
Harrington, who has never won a World Golf Championship event, isnt thinking about next week. Not yet, anyway.
Break 70 on the weekend a few more times and I should be doing OK, he said.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 2009 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • 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.

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.