Playoff paring continues at Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonSeptember 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. –   Bob Estes was on his way to the first tee for a practice round at the TPC Boston on Wednesday when he stopped to look at the FedEx Cup standings.

“First time I’ve seen my name atop a leaderboard in a long time,” Estes said.

That was the good news.

Not so good was that this chart only showed the 10 players – from No. 65 to No. 75 – on the bubble at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second round of the playoffs when the paring of players starts to get serious.

Only 70 of the 100 players who made it to the TPC Boston will advance next week to Cog Hill outside Chicago.

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  • Event: Deutsche Bank Championship

Estes is at No. 65 for the second straight week. He can’t afford to drop much lower.

A year ago, one tournament into the PGA Tour Playoffs revealed some flaws. The points system was supposed to create volatility, yet it wound up rewarding mediocrity. Anyone who simply made the cut could count on moving up the charts. A missed cut was crippling.

The example of all that was wrong last year was Padraig Harrington. He won two majors and ultimately was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, but he missed the cut in the first two playoff events and didn’t even qualify for the Tour Championship.

Harrington hasn’t won any tournaments this year after spending most of the season searching for a swing key. Only in the last month did he start to concentrate on scoring, and the results have been promising. He had a chance to win at Firestone, finishing in a tie for second. He had a chance at the PGA Championship, where he tied for 10th.

In the playoff opener last week at The Barclays, Harrington tied for second.

He started the playoffs at No. 66 and now is all the way up to No. 14, keeping him in contention for the $10 million prize.

“It is interesting that my FedEx Cup this year has improved so much with one event,” Harrington said. “Whereas maybe last year the system didn’t work for me, this year it seems to be working for me.”

It’s working for Tiger Woods. He won five times during the regular season to earn the No. 1 seed, tied for second last week after missing a 7-foot putt that would have put him in a playoff, and remains the top seed.

And it’s really working for Heath Slocum, the surprise winner of The Barclays after making a 20-foot par putt on the 18th hole. Slocum narrowly qualified for the opening event, and now finds himself at No. 3. That’s the reward of winning a playoff event.

“It was a good week. It was a great week,” Slocum said. “And really, I’m just looking forward to the position that it’s put me in, maybe to have a chance coming down the stretch of the playoffs to maybe have another impact.”

Ultimately, it’s all about performance.

Webb Simpson was No. 85 in the standings, two spots ahead of Nick O’Hern going into the opener. Simpson finished eighth at The Barclays and moved up to No. 41, leaving him in good position to advance to Chicago. O’Hern missed the cut and fell to No. 98, meaning he will have to play well if he wants to keep playing.

“I got my text message saying I moved up to 41st, and at first I thought they made a mistake,” Simpson said. “I didn’t realize I was going to jump 40-something spots. But I love the format. It keeps everybody on their toes, and whoever plays best in the playoffs is going to win. I think this year’s system is great compared to last year.”

What one week of the playoffs has revealed is the importance of the regular season. Unlike last year, the standings are not reset until the Tour Championship, so someone like Woods could have three bad weeks and still be in the top 10 going to East Lake. That’s the reward for winning five times and dominating the tour.

Consider three levels of performance:

  • Slocum was at No. 124 after a poor season and had to play his best golf in the opening round or go home. Just his luck, he won the tournament. Jeff Maggert was at No. 123 and missed the cut, so he was eliminated.
  • Brett Quigley had a good season and was No. 45 before he missed the cut at The Barclays. He could afford one bad week, however, and now Quigley is No. 59 going into the Deutsche Bank Championship. If he misses the cut at TPC Boston, he likely will be out.
  • Lucas Glover had a great season, winning the U.S. Open and finishing fifth at the PGA Championship. He also missed the cut at The Barclays, but having started at No. 5, he slipped only two spots. Glover is allowed another bad week at TPC Boston and still will be in Chicago, with a decent chance of going to the Tour Championship.

At some point, everyone will have to play well.

“There’s a lot of buzz in the locker room and player dining, people talking about so-and-so moved up a lot,” Simpson said. “I was on the bubble and I got moved out. So I think it’s exactly what – for a playoff situation – fans want, and us as players want.”

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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.