Pebble Beachs beauty unparalleled

By Doug FergusonJune 20, 2010, 12:03 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It is among the most famous datelines in golf, right up there with St. Andrews and Augusta. Jack Nicklaus has always that if he could only play one more round, this is where he would go.

Indeed, there is something special about the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Ian Poulter had seen it on television when he watched Tiger Woods blow away the field in 2000, and the odd time the Englishman tuned in to watch the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He felt as if he knew the course from video games he once played.

But his first trip to the famed course on the Monterey Peninsula exceeded expectations. He spoke about Pebble Beach the way so many players speak about Augusta National.

“When you finally get here and actually see how they have sculptured the holes around the ocean, it’s pretty amazing,” Poulter said. “There’s a lot of undulation, which you don’t expect, and you don’t pick that up from TV. It just blew me away. I just felt it was probably the best golf course I’ve ever played so far.”

Perhaps that’s why the USGA announced – even before the first shot of the week – that the U.S. Open would return to Pebble Beach in 2019, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the fabled resort. Officials usually wait until after the tournament for such a decision, just to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Pebble, though, is as close to a sure thing as there is in golf.

“One of the most treasured spots in all of golf,” USGA president Jim Hyler said.

Of the two American majors that move around the country, no other golf course has produced such a list of winners – Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods. Perhaps that trend will continue this year, with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els among those within striking distance going into the weekend.

For scenery? There is nothing like it.

And the golf is unlike most U.S. Open courses, especially when the conditions get firm and bouncy.

“It’s got that look in a way of links golf,” Ernie Els said. “And it’s almost like links golf on steroids, with the rough and the grass around the bunkers. I really like the setup. The ball runs, which I like.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, where golf was invented, it is often said of the game’s oldest championship that there is the British Open, and there is the British Open at St. Andrews.

Is that the case here?

Is there the U.S. Open, and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach?

“Probably not,” Nicklaus said recently. “From my standpoint, I’ve won at Oakmont, Baltusrol (twice) and Pebble Beach. All three of those venues are great. Pebble Beach is … I’ve always said if I had one round of golf to play, I’d probably to go Pebble Beach. It’s more special than the others from that standpoint.”

Along with the majestic views, there are a half-dozen holes that standout. The par-3 seventh, which on Saturday became the first U.S. Open hole to measure under 100 yards, juts out into the pacific. The grandstands above that hole were filled eight hours before the leaders even teed off. Then comes the three-hole stretch of par 4s along the Pacific, which longtime golf journalist Dan Jenkins’ once jokingly labeled “Abalone Corner” in a spinoff from Amen Corner at Augusta National.

The second shot on No. 8 goes over a 60-foot cliff, travels across a corner of the Pacific and up a bluff toward the green. The next two holes run along the shore, and it is not unusual to see players try to play off the beaches of Carmel back up to the course.

The par-5 14th, which is inland, is getting more attention than any other hole at Pebble this week because of the diabolical nature of the green. It falls off severely to the right, and a steep shelf sends balls back off the green into the fairway. Par 5s are supposed to be birdie opportunities. This one is playing to an average score of about 5.5 this week.

History comes at the par-3 17th. Players step on the tee and think about Nicklaus and his 1-iron that hit the flag in 1972. They get to the green and think about Watson, who chipped in for birdie to win in 1982.

And then comes the signature 18th, a par 5 along the ocean. For all its beauty, it has yet to decide a U.S. Open.

But that’s what makes all this so surprising. For all the history and acclaim of Pebble Beach, it is hosting only its fifth U.S. Open. Oakmont has held the U.S. Open eight times, and also has a strong list of winners from Ben Hogan to Nicklaus to Johnny Miller. Baltusrol in northern New Jersey has had seven of them.

What took the USGA so long to find this gem?

Pebble hosted the first of four U.S. Amateurs in 1929, when Bobby Jones was upset in the first round by Johnny Goodman. When the U.S. Amateur returned in 1947, USGA president Charles W. Littlefield said, “Let’s hold ‘em all here.”

Jones never had a chance to play the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Neither did Hogan, Sam Snead or Byron Nelson. It wasn’t until 1972, when Nicklaus was at the height of his career, that the USGA decided to bring its premier championship to the peninsula.

It was all about location.

“In 1972, that marked the first time the U.S. Open wandered away from a metropolitan area,” USGA executive director David Fay said. “We had championships before then, obviously. But we had had always played the Open in a metro area, whether that was New York or Fort Worth or even Tulsa. And the next time we wandered away from a metro area was Pinehurst in 1999. Interestingly, they’re both resorts.”

If there was any concern that the fans wouldn’t come, those have been dismissed. People have come from all corners of the country, and even the world, for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“Visually and architecturally and in every other respect, it’s a special place,” Fay said. “The heart pumps a little quicker.”

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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.