Trip to China reminds Gay how far hes come

By Doug FergusonOctober 28, 2009, 2:57 am

PGA Tour

Brian Gay was in a faraway land, knowing only where he wanted to go without any assurances he would get there.

It was approaching midnight in India, and the shuttle bus to the hotel was already full. Gay hopped into a cab with his bride of two weeks and two other men he had never seen, then hung on for the ride of his life.

“Everything is dark and we’re driving through Calcutta with no lights,” Gay said Monday evening. “Every few minutes, he would flick the lights on and off. I guess it somehow saves the battery. We thought we would never be seen again. You’ve just got to trust and believe that you’ll get to where you’re supposed to be going.”

They arrived safely at the hotel that night. Gay wound up missing the cut in the 1997 Classic India Open, barely caught the last flight out and headed back to the Philippines for the next adventure in another of golf’s outposts.

That’s what makes his return to Asia next week so rewarding.

Gay is going to China not because he has to play, but because he can. His two victories this year, by a combined 15 shots, earned him a spot in the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship with a 78-man field featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.

The long flight to Shanghai?

That’s nothing compared with the journey that brought Gay to this stage of his career.

The 37-year-old had a breakthrough season that doesn’t get enough attention. He produced the year’s largest margin of victory at Hilton Head (10 shots), then won in Memphis by five. Gay has topped $3 million in earnings and has risen to No. 38 in the world.

Going back to Asia is more about celebration than desperation.

“The last time I went, I was pretty fresh out of college, looking for anywhere to play to make some money,” Gay said.

Gay won the Southeastern Conference title twice and helped lead Florida to a national title in 1993, a year in which he also played on the Walker Cup team and was medalist in U.S. Amateur qualifying. The next step proved to be the toughest.

After winning nine times on four mini-tours, Gay heard about other Americans going to Asia and thought he would give it a try. His first stop was the Mitsubishi Motors-Southwoods Open in the Philippines, where he tied for fifth and earned $8,667 from a $250,000 purse (next week in Shanghai offers a $7 million purse with $1.2 million to the winner and $25,000 for last place).

His travels took him from the Philippines to Malaysia to Singapore to India to Thailand with one break – he returned to Alabama in the midst of this adventure to get married.

Gay had met Kimberly in an airport. She didn’t know much about golf, but love made her learn quickly. No sooner had vows been exchanged, they were on their way to Singapore.

“I knew there was no such word as ‘quit.’ It was ‘Where are we going and how do we get there?”’ Kimberly said. “It was time to figure out how we would live this dream. We just never thought about not making it.”

The honeymoon almost ended before it began.

Gay had his wife caddie for him at the Rolex Masters at Singapore Island, where he opened with a 65. She used a pull cart, and the job was going along fine until Gay hit into a fairway bunker.

“He tells me I have to rake the bunker and I said, ‘Oh, no. I’m not raking that bunker.’ He said, ‘You have to. Caddies rake the bunker.’ The other players are waiting in the fairway, and finally he rakes the bunker,” she said. “That’s how little I knew about golf. We almost have this fight on the golf course and he shoots 65.”

They left there for India, then to the Philippines, where Gay recalls watching from his hotel room in the middle of the night as Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots.

He couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever make it to the PGA Tour, or to Augusta National.

“There were good weeks and bad weeks,” he said. “There were times when you said, ‘I can’t believe I’m over here.’ I stayed in some rough places. But the experience of playing other places and all the things you have to deal with, you learn a lot of patience in a hurry.”

The patience finally was rewarded when Gay made it through Q-school and found some stability, although it took him until last year – 293 starts on the PGA – before he won for the first time at the Mayacoba Classic in Mexico.

Kimberly Gay has come to appreciate the coincidences in life.

Cancun was the first vacation they took together, and 10 years later, he won his first PGA Tour event there. She had planned on going to Singapore this week until Gay, worn out from a big year, decided to play only in Shanghai. She will stay home with their two daughters, 10 and 5, although she couldn’t help but notice that Gay leaves Saturday, Oct. 31, the day she considers their first date.

And she still treasures those times in Asia.

“We were at a crossroads,” Kimberly said. “Brian was like, ‘What do I have to do to get my game better?’ I think he had in his brain that he had to make a certain amount of sacrifice. This might be something he deserves, because he paid the price.”

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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.