Watney rallies to win Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 14, 2011, 2:56 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Nick Watney had every reason to see nothing but trouble as he stood on the 18th tee at Doral, a tough tee shot in any circumstance, let alone with a World Golf Championship on the line.

History was hardly on his side Sunday at the Cadillac Championship.

Two years ago, he lost a duel against Phil Mickelson by one turn of the ball on his final putt. Only the day before, Watney lost focus and pulled his tee shot into the water to make double bogey and fall out of the lead.

Presented yet another chance, Watney seized it.

He belted his tee shot down the middle, fired an 8-iron over the corner of the lake and sank a 12-foot birdie putt for a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Watney said. “I really wanted to take care of business and to grasp this opportunity. I actually love that feeling; you don’t get it too often. But I really love to be … yeah, I guess I was a little nervous.

“But it’s fun,” he said when the laughter subsided. “That’s why you play. I’m thinking, ‘I have to be in this moment – right now – because this is all that counts.”’

He made it pay off with the biggest win of his career, one that puts him in the conversation of top American golfers.

Watney closed with a 5-under 67 with a birdie he felt was important, especially with Johnson behind him in the 18th fairway after a big drive of his own. Johnson hit a 9-iron that covered the flag and settled 8 feet away. Typical of his final round, he missed it and shot 71.

“I did everything I wanted to do, and just couldn’t get it in the hole,” Johnson said.

Butch Harmon is the swing coach for both of them, and he got choked up when he hugged Watney after his press conference. Harmon started working with Watney when he was a raw talent at Fresno State, hardly one of the elite in the game at the time.

Few players have such a pleasant disposition, so much that Watney’s college buddies called him “Rube” after the character in “Major League II” because he was so polite to the seniors. Against Johnson and the rest of a world-class field, Watney showed no mercy.

“Top-10 finishes are nice,” Watney said. “But winning is what counts out here, and that’s how you’re measured. To win this tournament against this field, it’s a huge honor. I’m very excited. I’m very proud.”

Francesco Molinari, who won the last World Golf Championship in stroke play last November in Shanghai, closed with a 69 and tied for third with Anders Hansen (67), who will move into the top 50 and now has to stay there the next two weeks to get into the Masters.

Tiger Woods matched his best score of the year with a 6-under 66, and when Rory McIlroy dunked his tee shot into the water on the 18th hole and made bogey, that enabled Woods to tie for 10th.

It was his first top 10 in an official PGA Tour event in nine months, dating to the U.S. Open.

“I want to win golf tournaments … and I didn’t do that this week,” Woods said. “But I showed positive signs for the next time I play, which is a good thing.”

Watney finished at 16-under 272 and earned $1.4 million, moving him closer to cracking the top 10 in the world ranking.

“All I can do is try to keep improving, hopefully keep winning tournaments,” said Watney, who has yet to finish out of the top 10 this year. “The world rankings are what they are. But that’s not why I play. I play for feelings like this.”

Johnson opened with a birdie and went 12 straight pars before his next one, a fairway bunker shot that hit the flag and settled 2 feet away on the 14th. But he came undone on the 16th, going bunker-to-bunker for a bogey at the worst time.

“Nothing went in the hole all day,” he said. “The 18th hole kind of sums it up.”

That wasn’t the case for Watney.

He opened with back-to-back birdies and took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 10th.

But he won this tournament with pars.

On the tough par-3 13th, Watney went well right into a bunker and blasted out weakly to 18 feet. Right when it looked as though he would drop a shot, he holed the par putt to keep his one-shot lead. On the next par-3, Watney went long into a bunker and faced a downhill shot. He was so careful that it barely crawled onto the fringe. He drained that one from 25 feet for par to stay tied.

“I feel like that’s what happens when you win a golf tournament. You make some putts that you really need to,” Watney said.

Johnson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th that would have tied Watney, and he figured his last chance was a birdie on the 18th, the toughest at Doral where only two players had made birdie in the final round.

Johnson was in the fairway after a 326-yard tee shot when he watched Watney make the putt.

“I kind of wanted to make him hole in order to tie,” Watney said. “It worked out great. After yesterday, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”

It wasn’t a bitter ending for Johnson. He spends a lot of time with Watney, sometimes in Las Vegas while working with Harmon, sometimes in practice rounds in some high-stake games.

“Nick is a good friend of mine,” Johnson said. “I told him walking off that if I was going to lose to somebody, I was glad it was him. And he played really well. I didn’t give him the tournament. He earned it. He played well.”

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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.