Westwood alone in front at The Players

By Doug FergusonMay 7, 2010, 11:17 pm

The Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Lee Westwood tries to peak for the biggest tournaments. And while he doesn’t put The Players Championship in his top five, it’s big enough that he is playing some of his best golf going into the weekend.

Westwood ran off three straight birdies to start his back nine Friday on his way to a 7-under 65 to build a one-shot lead over Heath Slocum, Francesco Molinari of Italy and Ryuji Imada.

“As you get older, it gets harder to peak all the time when you want to,” said Westwood, a 37-year-old Englishman. “You have to pick and choose your ones, and you want to play well in the biggest tournaments. And this is one of the biggest tournaments.”

There’s a chance it might finally start playing like one.

Westwood was at 12-under 132, the lowest score to lead after 36 holes at The Players Championship since 1994, when Greg Norman was at 14 under on his way to setting the 72-hole record.

But as the wind picked up and the temperatures rose late in the afternoon, there were signs that the TPC Sawgrass was starting to get firm after two days of relatively soft conditions.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be around for the weekend, which is about all that could be said for golf’s two biggest stars. Woods overcame one tee shot that flew off to the right at a 45-degree angle and gave him double bogey for a 1-under 71. Mickelson flirted with the cut line late in the day until making a tough chip look easy for birdie on the 16th. He shot a 71.

They were at 3-under 141, nine shots behind.

That might be too far back on a course where there already have been 73 rounds in the 60s, the most after two days on the Stadium Course since 1993. But with more heat and more wind, the final two days could be as unpredictable as ever.

“Because the character of the course is changing so much from the morning to the afternoon, the guys that are 2-, 3-, 4-under par are in the tournament,” Mickelson said. “Because if they shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under par, they’re going to move right up the leaderboard. And it’s going to be difficult for the leaders to pull away.”

It’s going to be really hard for major champions like Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink, Vijay Singh and defending champion Henrik Stenson to make any move at all. They were among 15 players poised to make the cut on the number at 1-under 143 until John Merrick make a birdie putt just outside 12 feet on the final hole to knock them out.

That tied the tournament record for the lowest cut at 142.

Westwood might be at the top of the list among those to have never won a major, with his 30 career victories and having not finished worse than third in the last two majors, including a runner-up to Mickelson at the Masters.

Asked recently in Britain if he was playing as well as anyone, he mentioned no one was stronger in recent months from tee to green, and that never hurts at Sawgrass. Even better is when the putts start falling.

“It’s all very easy at the moment,” caddie Billy Foster said about Westwood’s game.

The hard part will be keeping his nose in front of a crowded leaderboard.

Slocum had perhaps the most impressive round of the day with a 66 in the afternoon, when balls started bouncing through some of the greens. He ran off three birdies to start his round and finished without a bogey on his card.

He has never finished better than a tie for 44th at this event.

“I’ve felt good about my game for a while now,” said Slocum, who last year at The Barclays holed a birdie putt on the final hole to beat Woods, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els. “It’s just putting four rounds together and finishing a golf tournament.”

Molinari had a 65 without a bogey in the morning, and suddenly his first trip to Sawgrass. The Italian Open is being held this week in his hometown, and brother Edoardo turned down this tournament to play at home.

“Everything seems in the right place,” he said.

The scoring is so low that Robert Allenby had a 70 to reach 8 under and shook his head as he saw the front page of the leaderboard, which was missing his name. Was it all that unusual?

“At this place? Yes,” he said. “Normally, 8 under is leading. But it’s because the conditions are super soft.”

That was the lone complaint, even among players who were in contention. Despite a few bursts of rain earlier in the week, the weather seems to suit hard, fast conditions. But north Florida had a harsh winter, and it has been difficult to grow grass.

“The greens are definitely softer than we’re used to, and I’d even say a little slower,” Lucas Glover said after a 65, his best score by a mile on this track. Glover had not shot better than 75 in his four previous trips to the TPC Sawgrass.

He was at 9-under 135.

Woods has never missed consecutive cuts – he’s missed only six for his career – and it wasn’t until a solid back nine that he was secure for the weekend. He hit a drive into the trees on the par-5 11th hole and made bogey, then hit his 3-wood so far right on the 14th that it landed in the middle of a pond on the 12th hole.

But for every mistake came enough birdies to keep him around par, and keep him at Sawgrass for two more days.

“I wasn’t quite as sharp today as I was yesterday,” Woods said. “Got to keep plodding along on this golf course. Anything can happen.”

.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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.