Palmer steals the show at least for a day

By Doug FergusonMay 5, 2011, 3:30 am

Wells Fargo ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – No one else at Quail Hollow has won more majors, and no one is close to his PGA Tour victories. Not surprisingly, no one had more fans following his every move Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

That used to be the case for Tiger Woods.

This time it was for Arnold Palmer, the King, but only for a day.

The tournament that always goes the extra step brought in an 81-year-old for its star power in the pro-am. Palmer, who once lived on the 15th hole and helped bring the Kemper Open to Quail Hollow years ago, played with club president John Harrison and Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson who was given a sponsor’s exemption.

“It played tougher than I’ve ever seen it play,” Palmer said. “But it’s great. I think it’s set up for a real good tournament.”

Woods, who last year missed the cut with his highest 36-hole score, is not playing because of what he described as a minor knee injury sustained in the third round of the Masters. He is to decide Friday whether to play next week in The Players Championship.

Quail Hollow isn’t suffering from lack of star power.

The defending champion is Rory McIlroy, who turned 22 on Wednesday. His birthday celebration included being selected for random drug testing. McIlroy only has two wins, although last year was extraordinary. He rallied with a late eagle just to make the cut, then closed with a course-record 62 for a four-shot victory over Phil Mickelson.

McIlroy hasn’t played in America since he shot 80 in the last round of the Masters to lose a four-shot lead, a moment equally memorable for how he handled such a devastating moment in his young career. He isn’t playing next week at The Players, so that meant a trip over from Northern Ireland, then going right back home.

Even if he were not the defending champion, McIlroy said he wouldn’t miss it.

“This is one of my favorite golf courses and one of my favorite events of the year,” he said.

The setup is similar to last year, a mini-Masters, with the rough cut so low that it’s only about an inch deep and mainly defines the fairways. That can lead to some aggressive play for birdies and eagles, along with trouble when players try to escape from the trees.

And that’s why Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, loves it.

“It really is exciting because it gives you an opportunity to try a recovery shot,” Mickelson said. “There’s a lot of penalties with as many trees that they have here, but I think it’s the most exciting shot in golf.”

Just to clarify, the short rough allows him to reach the trees?

“Oh, I can always reach the trees,” Mickelson said.

The only complaint he has is with the greens, which can funnel away from the holes. It’s when they get fast, with certain hole locations, that Mickelson last year criticized them as being unfair.

It wasn’t enough to keep him away.

“I was frustrated when I wasn’t able to go at the pin for the third time in the round after hitting a green,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said anything, but I was frustrated. They know for the major (the 2017 PGA Championship) there will have to be modifications. These greens were designed to roll about 9 on the stimpmeter, and they’re rolling 13, 14. But for the PGA, they’ll be fine.”

There was one moment last year when Mickelson was on the 18th green and told his caddie not to tend the flag. He purposely aimed some 6 feet away to keep the ball on the green. Remember, this is the guy who in January at Torrey Pines had his caddie tend the pin for a full wedge shot from the 18th fairway.

“Well, I could only go at one of them,” he said with a grin.

The field isn’t loaded with players from the top 10 as it has been in years past, although that’s primarily a function of the changing world ranking that reflects a strong international presence.

But it does have PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who can return to No. 1 in the world by winning or finishing second. And it has Bubba Watson, coming off his playoff win last week in New Orleans.

Watson now has won three times since last summer, the most of any American. And he has no idea how.

“It’s not like I’m a better player – maybe better mentally,” he said. “I felt terrible losing all the time, so I’m ready to change that. I don’t know. It’s just one of those things. If I knew, I’d do it all the time. I wouldn’t just win three, I’d win a lot more.”

For one day, though, the tournament centered on Palmer.

He still plays the pro-am in his tournament at Bay Hill, but it’s special to see him anywhere else. He walked through a tunnel onto the practice range as heads turned at the silver-haired legend, hands in his pockets as he chatted for some 15 minutes with players before deciding he ought to warm up before playing.

Palmer was in a cart – playing the role of an amateur – and often picked up before finishing the hole. He still soaked up the adulation, with one fan calling out as Palmer approached the 15th, “The King lives!”

As usual, Palmer stopped to sign autographs on every hole.

“That was very flattering, to think they knew I wasn’t going to play any kind of great golf,” Palmer said. “But it was fun. It was fun seeing the people. I saw so many old friends, and that was a thrill to me. It made the day. It made it a nice day for me.”

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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 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.