Scott Garcia set standard for players in their 20s
That doesn’t make him old, nor does it make him irrelevant.
If anything, it should make all those kids behind him – and there are more of them every year – take stock of what the Scott has done before turning 30, and realize that great play is measured by more than one year, much less one tournament.
Neither should great play be measured against Tiger Woods, who set the bar unreasonably high.
Scott’s 36-hole sprint in San Antonio on Sunday was his 17th victory worldwide, with seven of those on the PGA Tour (that doesn’t include a playoff win at Riviera that was shortened to 36 holes because of rain).
He has won in every full season as a pro. He has climbed as high as No. 3 in the world and played on four Presidents Cup teams. And while he has not so much as contended in a major – a glaring weakness on his resume – he is the youngest to win The Players Championship.
Most of that was forgotten over the last year when Scott endured the worst slump of his career. He pulled himself out of it on his own, however, winning the Australian Open and Texas Open over the last six months.
“I definitely questioned myself at times last year whether I was a great player or not, and I still feel I am,” Scott said. “It’s hard to maintain that for 20 years. I did a good job of it for a long time. I mean, everyone has fairly short memories in this game. You’ve got to be out there all the time to be talked about.
“Hopefully,” he added, “I can keep going with this form and they can talk about me as one of the great players in the game.”
Scott still has much to achieve before that, although he is off to a good start.
It’s still not as good as Sergio Garcia, who left his 20s in January and is trying to find his game.
Garcia and Scott have set a standard that young players like Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa, Anthony Kim, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and perhaps even Rickie Fowler should try to match.
Garcia has won 19 times around the world and reached No. 2 in the world ranking only 14 months ago. He starred on the first of five Ryder Cup teams when he was 19, the same year he made Woods sweat down the stretch in the PGA Championship at Medinah. And while he also lacks confirmation that only a major can bring, Garcia at least has been a runner-up three times and has nine finishes in the top five.
“I feel like there’s no doubt I could have done better,” Garcia said. “But people don’t realize that it is a pretty good career.”
Garcia and Scott don’t get enough credit in small part because they have yet to win a major.
And in large part because of Woods.
Even as Garcia was steadily improving and usually producing, his feats were dwarfed by a player from his own generation. Woods continues to chase the 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus and the 82 PGA Tour victories of Sam Snead. Even more out of reach are the records that Woods established before turning 30.
He won 56 times on the PGA Tour (64 titles worldwide), 10 major championship and the career Grand Slam – twice. He was No. 1 in the world for all but 101 weeks from when he turned pro until he celebrated his 30th birthday.
“It doesn’t matter what you do,” Garcia said. “Everybody is going to be compared with Tiger because he’s the best. People look at Tiger, and he makes it look – at times – easy. So everybody thinks it’s easy. I’m not unhappy with what I’ve done throughout these 11 years. It’s just a matter of realizing that you can’t compare with him.”
Even as he tries to work himself out of a funk – he has fallen to No. 30 in the world and last won 20 months ago – Garcia takes pride in keeping himself among the top 10 in the world for most of his career.
“It’s not that easy to keep it going,” he said. “That’s why what Tiger has done is so impressive. Being in the top 10 or the top 15 in the world is a big deal. And it’s definitely getting harder to stay there. With the young guys coming up, it gets tougher every year.”
The player who gets Woods’ attention at the moment is Ishikawa, the 18-year-old phenom who already has seven victories in Japan and picked up his last win by shooting a 58. McIlroy created quite the buzz with a 62 in the final rough at tough Quail Hollow, only to miss the cut a week later. Fowler has the talent, although it’s hard to put him in any conversation without a victory.
All three of Kim’s victories have come against strong fields. Not to be overlooked is Johnson, still only 25, with PGA Tour victories in each of his three years on tour.
There is more young talent than ever before.
Will any of them ever be as good as Woods? That will take more than one or two years to determine.
The first step is to show they can be as good as Garcia and Scott before they leave their 20s.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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.