Stricker leads by five as Round 3 suspended

By Doug FergusonFebruary 7, 2010, 7:27 am
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES – Steve Stricker had quite the Hollywood experience during a night out from the Northern Trust Open.

He went to a Lakers game Friday and spent more time watching the stars than players. Denzel Washington in the parking lot. Jack Nicholson courtside, along with George Lopez and one of the Kardashian sisters (he looked it up on the Internet – it was Khloe).

In unexpected sunshine Saturday afternoon at Riviera, Stricker was the star of his own show.
Phil Mickelson
Two-time defending champion Phil Mickelson shot 71 despite an eagle on the first hole. (Getty Images)
With an impeccable display of wedges and putting during a pivotal stretch in the middle of his round, Stricker turned a one-shot deficit into a five-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open before darkness halted the third round as he faced a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole.

“I did a lot of good things,” said Stricker, who was at 14 under par.

The clubhouse leaders were Luke Donald, who shot a bogey-free 66, and J.B. Holmes, who made one final birdie to finish his 67. They were at 9-under 204, tied with Andres Romero, who was 9 under and in the final group with Stricker.

Stricker wasn’t sure how big his lead had grown, nor did he care. All that mattered was returning to Riviera at 7 a.m. Sunday to finish off the third round, and trying to keep hitting the shots that put him in this position.

The tournament caught a huge break with the weather. A storm system off the California coast managed to dodge Riviera in the afternoon, leaving mostly sunny conditions and allowing for enough play that the tournament is expected to end Sunday.

“I’ve got to prepare myself for a long day, and it’s going to be tough,” Stricker said.

He was the runner-up last year at Riviera, and a victory Sunday would be enough to put him at No. 2 in the world if Phil Mickelson does not finish in the top five. Mickelson shot a 71 and was 10 shots behind.

George McNeill had a 66 and was at 8 under, along with Dustin Johnson, who finished his second round Saturday morning by chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole for a one-shot lead.

A day after some players couldn’t reach the 18th green with a 3-wood, Johnson flew a 9-iron over the green and deep into the soggy turf. After a free drop, he chipped in for birdie to complete a 67 and take a one-shot lead.

But that didn’t last long.

Johnson hooked his tee shot into the deep grass well left of the third fairway and never found it. He had to return to the tee to play his third shot, scrambled for a double bogey and it rattled him. He missed a 6-foot par putt on the fourth, had to scramble for pars, then missed a 5-foot par putt on the ninth to fall farther behind.

Stricker, meanwhile, was practically flawless. During a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round, Stricker gave himself birdie chances inside 15 feet on six holes.

“It was a key stretch,” Stricker said. “Stress-less would be the word. Is that a word?”

He made from 15 feet on the sixth and from just inside 10 feet on the eighth, after hitting into the ditch splitting the fairways. The exception came on the ninth, where Stricker drove into the left bunker and faced such a steep lip that he could only blast out to the fairway. From 123 yards, his wedge settled 8 feet away and he made it for par.

Then, he showed remarkable patience on the most intriguing hole at Riviera, the 298-yard 10th. There were three groups waiting, and while killing the time, Stricker was asked how he likes to play the hole. This was right after Justin Rose, in the group ahead, hit driver to a perfect opening just short of the green.

“I hit hybrid as far left as I can,” Stricker said. “See where Justin hit it? That’s perfect. I guess that’s why some guys like to hit driver here. But if you miss it any direction, you’re going to have problems.”

Moments later, Stricker hit hybrid to the left side of the fairway, giving him an open at the full length of the diagonal green. From there, he hit a 53-degree wedge that covered the flag and spun slightly back to inches a way.

It was a textbook birdie on a tricky little hole.

Then again, most of his round turned into an exhibition of keeping the ball in play, hitting his irons where he was looking and rarely flirting with danger while seizing command of the tournament.

Trying to become the first player to win three straight years at Riviera, Mickelson charged up his gallery by holing a 20-foot eagle putt to start his third round. But he missed three straight birdie chances inside 15 feet, dumped a wedge from behind the 10th green into a bunker for a bogey and couldn’t keep pace.

The best part for Donald was finishing, meaning extra sleep Saturday night. He also likes his position, although it is daunting with a player of Stricker’s caliber five shots clear.

“I would have thought I’d need to shoot something very low tomorrow to have any chance,” Donald said. “I’ll be trying to play the course more than anything, and hopefully post a low number and see if it’s good enough. But if Steve plays nicely, it’s sort of in his hands.”

DIVOTS: Scott Verplank shot a 65, important as he tries to move up in the world ranking and qualify for the 64-man Match Play Championship in two weeks. One more solid round should be enough. … Stephen Ames was among seven players who did not return to complete the second round Saturday morning. Ames was the only one still with a chance to make the cut. He was 1 over, and the cut was made at 2 over. … Because more than 78 players made the cut (81), there was a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties. Among those who missed out was David Duval, who followed his opening 68 with rounds of 75-76.
George McNeill shot a 66 and was at 8-under 205.
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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.