Rory roars to world No. 1 ranking, Honda title

By Doug FergusonMarch 4, 2012, 11:27 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ' Rory McIlroy won the Honda Classic with a performance worthy of the new No. 1 player in golf.

Right when it looked as though McIlroy had no serious challenge Sunday, Tiger Woods put some color into that red shirt with a birdie-eagle finish for a 62'his lowest final round ever'to get within one shot of the lead.

McIlroy could hear the roar from the farthest corner of PGA National, and the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland responded with some clutch golf of his own. He made an 8-foot birdie putt and then made three clutch par saves during a daunting stretch at PGA National.

He played it safe with a two-shot lead on the par-5 18th and made par to close with a 1-under 69 and the victory he needed to replace Luke Donald atop the world ranking that will be published Monday.

It was tough today, especially seeing Tiger make a charge, McIlroy said. I knew par golf would probably be good enough. To shoot 1 under in these conditions, when you go into the round with the lead, is very nice. And I was just able to get the job done.

McIlroy is the 16th player to be No. 1 in the world and the second-youngest behind Woods, who was 21 when he first went to No. 1 after the 1997 U.S. Open.

Donald responded quickly to the victory, tweeting Congrats (at)McIlroyRory enjoy the view!

Woods made two eagles in the final round and wound up two shots behind, along with Tom Gillis, who birdied the last hole for a 69.

McIlroy, who finished at 12-under 268, won for the fifth time in his career. Three of those are on the PGA Tour, including his record-setting victory in the U.S. Open last summer at Congressional.

He has finished out of the top five only once since the PGA Championship last August.

Theres very few players as good as him at his age out there winning tournaments, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said.

There are guys with potential, but hes already delivered. And he has a good balance in his life. He doesnt look like a guy who is going to burn out. He looks like hes going to be here for a while.

McIlroy shared a big hug with his father, Gerry, as he walked off the 18th green. His parents have come over from Holywood to stay with him in south Florida through the Masters, where McIlroy figures to be a top favorite.

After a Sunday like this, no one will be quick to rule out Woods.

He was nine shots behind going into the final round, and even a 31 on the front nine in blustery conditions left him five shots behind McIlroy.

But the finish'especially that 5-iron into the 18th green'was vintage Woods, and it at least gave him a chance.

To me, it was the old Tiger back, the guy that I remember, said Ernie Els, who played alongside him. He never missed a shot or made a bad swing.

Lee Westwood, playing two groups ahead of Woods, closed with a 63 to finish alone in fourth.

It was a lot of fun out there, Graeme McDowell said. It was just roars going up all over the golf course. For Rory to go out today with a two-shot lead and have Tiger shoot 62 on him and Westwood shoot 63, it just shows how hard it is to win golf tournaments on any tour in the world, but especially this tour.

This golf season just got a lot more spicy.

McIlroy wasnt at his best on the front nine, though he did what the best players tend to do by turning a suspect round into a decent score.

Despite having only two reasonable birdie chances on the front nine'he made one of them'McIlroy saved himself with a pair of par putts from 12 feet and another one from 8 feet.

No one looked capable of catching him.

Woods was still five shots behind until a finish that served as a reminder why this guy cant be counted out'not at PGA National, certainly not with the Masters around the corner.

I figured I had to go birdie-birdie to have a chance, Woods said.

He did one better.

First, Woods dropped a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, followed by a big tee shot on an aggressive line that left him a 5-iron into the par-5 18th, with the pin tucked over a bunker to the right side of the green near the water. Woods said it reminded him of his famous shot on the 18th at Glen Abbey in the 2000 Canadian Open, a 6-iron out of a bunker and over the water to a tight pin.

This one cleared the sand and settled 8 feet away, and Woods swept his fist when it dropped for eagle.

He finished at 270, his lowest 72-hole score since he had a 265 at the 2009 BMW Championship, his last PGA Tour win.

The roar from thousands of fans down the 18th fairway could be heard at every corner of PGA National, yet it didnt rattle McIlroy. Moments later, he holed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 13th to build his lead back to two shots.

From there, it was a matter of hanging on.

With so much emphasis on his swing, the final hour was all about his will. After making his first birdie on the eighth hole, McIlroy had a two-shot cushion for most of the final round. But there was something different about having someone'especially Woods'in the clubhouse at 10 under, with McIlroy facing six holes and a shrinking margin of error.

He was 65 feet from the hole in rough so deep he had trouble finding his ball when McIlroy gouged out a wedge to 4 feet for par. In the back bunker on the par-3 15th, facing a shot that ran away from him toward the water, he blasted out to 6 feet and made another clutch par putt.

His final act was from another bunker on the par-3 17th, and he saved par again. McIlroy had seven one-putt greens (another was a birdie from the fringe) and one-putted four of the last six holes.

My short game all week has been very good, and its what you need on a tough golf course like this, McIlroy said. I was able to do that, especially on 15 and 17. I needed to make pars there. My short game felt good all week, and it definitely saved me today.

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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.