Torrey Pines still on USGAs mind
What about Torrey Pines?
The public course in San Diego staged one of the most memorable U.S. Opens of the decade when Tiger Woods, on a shredded knee, birdied the 72nd hole in regulation to force a playoff, then beat Rocco Mediate in 19 holes.
“It’s still in the conversation,” USGA executive director David Fay said in an interview last week.
Whether Torrey Pines belongs in the same tier as Pebble Beach, Oakmont and Pinehurst No. 2 is up for debate. Even though its championship featured an unforgettable duel, so did Valhalla for the 2000 PGA Championship.
Even so, the course has what it takes – plenty of room, plenty of interest.
“Every time we announce an Open site or sites, people look at that as, ‘My God, what about these other worthy candidates who weren’t picked? Does that mean they’re gone forever, out of favor?’ That’s not the case at all,” Fay said. “Torrey Pines and the city of San Diego remain interested, and we remain interested.”
The question is when. Although 2018 is the only vacant year the rest of the decade, it’s hard to imagine the U.S. Open being played in California in consecutive years. The next seven U.S. Opens will be played in Maryland (Congressional), San Francisco (Olympic Club), Pennsylvania (Merion), North Carolina (Pinehurst), Washington state (Chambers Bay), Pennsylvania (Oakmont) and Wisconsin (Erin Hills).
Erin Hills completes what Fay refers to as all five subsets of public golf – resorts (Pebble, Pinehurst), state-owned (Bethpage Black), county-owned (Chambers Bay), municipal golf (Torrey Pines) and private ownership of a fee course (Erin Hills).
Even though the USGA is going to more courses the public can play, Fay said it would not ignore private country clubs that have so much U.S. Open history, such as Oakmont and Shinnecock Hills.
Where does that leave new country clubs?
“That probably will be harder,” Fay said. “First of all, there are fewer country clubs designed to host big events. It will be difficult. But just as you say that, you never know. It will happen down the road.'
SOMETHING NEW: Among those on the range Sunday at Pebble Beach were a half-dozen players with hopes of winning the U.S. Open, from Dustin Johnson to Graeme McDowell to Ernie Els to Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods … and Adam Scott?
Scott had missed the cut by one shot on Friday, yet hung around the Monterey Peninsula and was practicing Sunday afternoon. His private plane will not be ready for a few more months, so Scott chose to take the charter flight Monday provided by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
That led to the next question: Why is Scott playing in Hartford?
“I’m playing well,” he said with a shrug. “And with my record, you never know.”
He was referring to his tendency to play well in tournaments where he is making his debut, and it is a remarkable record. Scott won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003 on a sponsor’s exemption. A year later, he felt he was playing well despite missing the cut in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, so he entered the old Booz Allen Classic and won.
Scott finished in the middle of the pack at The Players Championship, felt he was close, and decided this year to play the Texas Open for the first time. He wound up winning.
The 29-year-old Australian, who continues to play an international schedule, already has played 37 different events on the PGA Tour, including six that no longer exist. The PGA Tour is contemplating a policy that requires top players to add one tournament to their schedule from a group of designated events.
“I should be exempt from that one,” Scott said with a laugh.
GOLFING VACATIONS: Ernie Els spent the week before the U.S. Open playing some of the best courses in the north, from Shinnecock Hills to Pine Valley. It was his way of getting ready for a major.
But there are other players who never travel to play golf except for a tournament or corporate outing. Tiger Woods has yet to play Pine Valley or even Seminole in south Florida.
Steve Stricker said the best course he played outside of a golf tournament was in Chicago. It made such an impression he couldn’t remember the name of it except that it had “Lakes” in the name (and it wasn’t Kemper Lakes).
“We just play so much out here,” Jim Furyk said, who said his best courses were Cypress Point and Shinnecock Hills, both of which he played during weeks of PGA Tour events.
But he will travel overseas for golf, having taken one trip to play Royal County Down, Royal Portrush and Ballybunion in Ireland.
“The guy trips are for football,” said Furyk, mainly the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ohio State.
EUROPEAN SUPREMACY: The PGA Tour has 20 active members from Europe this year, and they sure seem to be winning a lot of tournaments lately.
Justin Rose of England won his first PGA Tour event at the Memorial, and Lee Westwood won the following week in Memphis. Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who had not taken up membership this year, won the U.S. Open.
It was the first time since the PGA Tour broke away from the PGA of America in 1969 that Europeans have won three weeks in a row.
International players have won seven of the last eight tournaments on the PGA Tour, a streak that began with Rory McIlroy winning the Quail Hollow Championship.
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players who have finished in the top 10 at both majors this year. … Paula Creamer’s gutsy return from a thumb injury won’t include the CVS Charity Classic next week. She withdrew from the charity event run by Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, saying it might be too much to play four straight weeks, including a pair of LPGA majors. Creamer was replaced by Ricky Barnes. … Ryan Moore wasn’t a big fan of the way the course was set up at Pebble Beach, saying this to The Tacoma (Wash.) New-Tribune, “In their minds, this is a great golf tournament. This is how golf should be. It should be torture, apparently.” … Ten years after a winning at Pebble Beach with a record 12-under par, Tiger Woods was under par for one of 72 holes – the 18th on Saturday – at this U.S. Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK: In the last three U.S. Opens, the winner shot his highest score in the final round.
FINAL WORD: “I’m always trying to learn from somebody that does something better than me.”– Tom Watson.
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.