Perseverance pays off for Stanford grad

By Doug FergusonJune 16, 2010, 4:59 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Joseph Bramlett was a freshman when he first sat in Tiger Woods’ living room with the rest of the Stanford golf team, peppering the world’s No. 1 player about everything from the short game to course management.

They were together again last October, in the days leading up to the Presidents Cup in San Francisco, when Woods visited his alma mater and got into a putting contest with Bramlett.

Nothing could top Tuesday, though.

The lesson was familiar – short game and course management. The classroom could not have been more spectacular.

Woods and Bramlett stood behind the green on the par-3 fifth hole at Pebble Beach, easing their way through a practice round for the U.S. Open. Woods pointed to various spots on the green to show the kid what to expect.

“It’s been an amazing week already,” Bramlett said quietly.

Getting to this stage was not easy.

In a sport still lacking in diversity – Woods remains the only player of black heritage on the PGA Tour – there was reason to believe Bramlett could join him one day.

He grew up outside San Jose in a multiracial family – his father is black, his mother is white – and endured the odd stares at junior events when his parents followed him along. He plastered posters of Woods on his bedroom wall after Woods won the 1997 Masters, and he later competed in the Junior World Championship in San Diego with a team sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Bramlett put in the work and was proud of his results.

When he was 14, he became the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in 1992. He was an All-American his freshman year at Stanford, when he helped lead the Cardinal to an NCAA title. Bramlett flew straight home to California to try to qualify for the U.S. Open, losing out in a playoff.

Surely, there would be other chances.

The first setback came in the middle of his sophomore year when Bramlett slipped on a wet mat in the weight room and injured his right wrist. It turned out to be a bone bruise, but it kept him from competing.

Just as he was beginning to recover – he twice shot 60 in the fall of his junior year – Bramlett was riding his bike when he took a spill over the handle bars, braced for the fall with his hands and injured ligaments and tendons in the same wrist.

“The second one hurt,” Bramlett said, speaking more of the emotional damage than the injury itself. “As soon as it happened, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I went 13 months not knowing what was wrong and how to fix it. I just had to wait. Surgery wasn’t going to help. It was a little bit frustrating, but it was over and you move on.”

Walking along with Bramlett on Tuesday were his father, Marlo, and Stanford golf coach Conrad Ray, who could appreciate the experience. Ray, who played for the Cardinal on the same team as Woods, qualified for his only U.S. Open in 2005 at Pinehurst No. 2, and spent a practice round with Woods.

It was hard to determine who was more proud.

Marlo Bramlett still remembers the day his son beat him for the first time, at age 12. They were tied at San Jose Country Club when the kid got up-and-down from a bunker by holing a 6-foot putt, turned to point at his father with a wide smile and said, “I got you.”

“I’ve never been more proud as a parent, and I’ve never been more mad as a parent,” the father said with a laugh. “I put my clubs away and went to the office to cool off. And I realized, ‘You’re not going to beat him much more.”’

Marlo Bramlett figures the injuries that slowed his son only made him stronger. To see him at Pebble Beach was proof.

“It means a lot to see him achieve this because he worked so hard at it,” the father said.

Ray arranged the practice round with Woods, sending him a text not long after Bramlett qualified. Woods remembered him well and replied immediately.

“It’s great to see him healthy again,” Woods said. “He’s been struggling with a bad wrist for the last couple of years, and to see him out there and not flinching, not in pain – he’s such a great kid – it’s good to see.”

What impressed Ray the most was how Bramlett insisted on being part of the Cardinal team even when he wasn’t healthy enough to play. His teammates voted him captain for his senior year, and while Bramlett struggled at times, he came through in the clutch.

Stanford, Arizona State and San Diego were in a playoff at the NCAAs for the final spot in the match play portion of the tournament. San Diego had finished its playoff holes in 2 under. Stanford avoided elimination when Bramlett made a 25-foot birdie putt, and it advanced to the final round on the next hole.

“It was a reasonably big fist pump,” he said.

Bramlett was just getting started. He flew back to California after the NCAAs and shot 65-71 at Del Paso in Sacramento to make it by one shot into his first U.S. Open. He might have expected to be here sooner. Then again, he never expected to miss parts of two years with injuries that could have ended all his dreams.

“It helped me grow as a person and understand that it’s not always going to go your way,” he said. “It’s not always going to be easy and it’s not always going to be fair. But you work through it. You take what you get and make the most of it.”

That he has done.

Two days before his practice round with Woods, he graduated from Stanford.

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 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.