Westwood shoots 66 Woods 68 at WGC-HSBC Champions

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2010, 3:44 pm

WGC-HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI – Lee Westwood spent his career trying to be No. 1. The way he played Thursday in the WGCHSBC Champions, it doesn’t look as though he wants to give up his prized ranking after just one week.

Even as Francesco Molinari of Italy made a charge to a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead, the focus in the final World Golf Championship of the year quickly shifted to what could be a prolonged and fascinating battle for No. 1.

In his debut as golf’s top-ranked player, Westwood birdied some of the toughest holes at Sheshan International and showed hardly any signs of rust from playing in his second stroke-play tournament in three months. He finished with back-to-back birdies for a 66.

Two shots behind Westwood was Tiger Woods, without his No. 1 ranking for the first time in more than five years. Woods made a most improbable par from behind the bushes with a 4-iron he had to aim away from loose tree roots, which proved more satisfying than the three straight birdies that sent him to a 68.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods plays from the trees during Round 1 in China. (Getty Images)

Not to be forgotten is the defending champion, fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson, who rallied for a 69. PGA champion Martin Kaymer, the No. 3 player, opened with a 72.

Any of those four could go to No. 1 this week at the HSBC Champions, and it could just be getting started.

“You just basically asked me how long a piece of string is, I think,” Westwood replied when asked when the crowd near the top of the ranking might have some clarity. “I think the world rankings are reflective of how competitive world golf is at the moment.”

“Nobody is the out-and-out world No. 1,” he added. “I think that’s partly to do with Tiger not having played quite so well this year, and partly to do with Tiger having made everybody else elevate their games. He’s a victim of his own brilliance. We’ve all had to work harder, and we’ve closed the gap.”

There was plenty of brilliance to go around on a mostly clear afternoon at Sheshan International, with sunshine fighting through the haze and only a mild breeze. That allowed for 51 players in the 78-man field to shoot par or better.

Molinari would not have expected to be at the top when he sent his wedge over the third green, his 12th hole, and faced a scary downhill chip. He turned bogey into birdie by chipping in, the start of four successive birdies without a bogey on his card.

“Everything seems in the right place at the moment,” Molinari said.

No one should be surprised for the No. 1 player to open with a 66 in such gentle conditions, although even Westwood wasn’t sure what kind of form he brought to Shanghai. Since his runner-up finish at the British Open in July, he played two rounds at the Bridgestone Invitational before pulling out with his calf injury, played four matches at the Ryder Cup and four rounds at the Dunhill Links Championship.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said.

Nor did he feel as though he had to live up to any expectations as the new No. 1.

After knocking in a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th, Westwood took on the 15th with a solid drive and a 6-iron to 15 feet for birdie, then watched his drive on the 288-yard 16th hole pitch 10 feet from the cup before rolling over the back of the green. His chip raced 18 feet down the slope, but he holed the birdie putt.

Westwood wasn’t trying to send a message, although if anyone took it that way, it was fine by him.

“I don’t think I need to reinforce why I’m No. 1 in the world,” Westwood said. “I think you get there as a result of having good performances. But it’s nice to go out there and show everybody that there is a particular reason why I got to that stage.”

The Asian influence in the tournament regarded as “Asia’s major” came from Yuta Ikeda of Japan, who bogeyed his last hole and shot 67, and rising South Korean star Seung-Yul Noh, who also had a 67. They were joined by Henrik Stenson, coming off his worst season and seeing some signs of progress.

For Woods, the best sign might have been picking up where he left off. This is his first stroke-play tournament since Sept. 12 at the BMW Championship, and his first competition since Oct. 3 at the Ryder Cup. That’s the longest layoff since he returned to golf at the Masters, and his opening bogey was his only dropped shot of the round.

Two holes stood out for Woods.

Already 1 over for the tournament, he drove into a cluster of trees and bushes on the 15th. He figured he had no hope until caddie Steve Williams told Woods when he got to his ball, “I think we might have a shot.”

The ball was behind some hedges, with sprigs sticking up around his ball. With a 4-iron, Woods played away from the sprigs, through a gap in the hedges, shaping the ball from left to right to get it just left of the green. From there, he navigated a tricky, downhill chip to about 3 feet for the most unlikely par.

“I was able to build some momentum from there,” Woods said.

He birdied the next hole with a sand wedge to 2 feet, then had three straight birdies on his back nine. The most impressive came on the par-5 second hole, where he hit a 5-wood from 247 yards to 18 feet for a two-putt birdie.

“I hit a lot of good golf shots,” Woods said. “I felt like I was able to control my distance well coming into the greens, and also putted really well today.”

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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.