Woods, McIlory look to build momentum

By Doug FergusonMarch 7, 2012, 10:44 pm

DORAL, Fla. — Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are at Doral to build momentum in different ways.

McIlroy is the new No. 1 in golf after winning the Honda Classic. He is not concerned with how long he can stay there as much as he is winning the Cadillac Championship in his last tournament before Augusta National.

“This is a World Golf Championship, and it’s my last event before the Masters,” McIlroy said. “I’d love to give myself a chance to win here again this week, and go into that three-week break with a lot of confidence.”

Woods is coming off a 62, the lowest final round of his career, hopeful that it’s the strongest sign yet that he is close to a full return to form that made him No. 1 longer than anyone. 

For both, last week is nothing but a memory, albeit a happy one.

“Doesn’t count,” Woods said Wednesday before going out for a practice round on the TPC Blue Monster at Doral. “That tournament is over with, whether you missed the cut or won the tournament. It’s over. Now we’re on to a new week, a new golf course, and have to learn it and be ready by Thursday. 

What remains to be seen is which moment is more meaningful going forward.

Not only was it the best score for Woods in more than two years, it was nearly nine shots better than the average score in the final round at windswept PGA National. He ended his big charge with a 5-iron that was exquisite, finishing 8 feet away for eagle.

But he still didn’t win, and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since September 2009.

Woods is coming up on a stretch of courses he knows well. He is a three-time winner at Doral, and it’s the only tournament he regularly plays that he has never finished out of the top 10. Two weeks later is Bay Hill, where he has won a record 10 times.

And while statistics can be meaningless, especially this early in the year, Woods took note of the fact that he’s No. 1 in total driving, which is a combination of accuracy (No. 5) and distance (No. 14).

“Now it’s on to other aspects of the game,” Woods said. “You have to take up and focus on the weaknesses, make them strengths. And we’ve done that, and we still have some more weaknesses to look at and to fix.”

There appears to be little wrong with McIlroy in so many ways.

Not long after Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots, he began to revamp his swing. McIlroy was asked what he was doing to his swing, and he said he was trying to get it closer to last summer when he shot a record score to win the U.S. Open.

Now, it’s about getting better.

 The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland allowed himself a few moments Sunday night on the plane to New York, where he spent a few days with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, to soak in his achievement at going to No. 1 in the world.

And he also conceded that it was a little unnerving, a lot more satisfying, that it was Woods that challenged him at the Honda Classic. Woods’ birdie-eagle finish put him one shot off the lead, and McIlroy had six holes left. He then birdied the 13th, saved par on three of the next four holes and won by two shots.

“To be honest, I was probably thinking to myself, `Could it not just have been anyone else?”’ McIlroy said to laughter. “The way I did it Sunday, with Tiger making the charge, it was almost more satisfying to do it that way, knowing that I held up under pretty intense pressure when I needed to.

“Closing out tournaments, and knowing what you need to do at the right time, all just comes with experience,” he said. “And I feel like I’ve had a lot of experiences where I could have won tournaments and I haven’t. And it’s taking what you need from those close finishes and trying to do something a little bit better.”

McIlroy moves into the marquee grouping of this World Golf Championship, based on the world ranking. He will play the opening two rounds with Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, the two players at No. 1 before him.

Woods will be on the opposite nine, with defending champion Nick Watney and Sergio Garcia.

There is talk of a potential rivalry, which is possible despite Woods and McIlroy being a generation apart. Jack Nicklaus was rivals with Arnold Palmer, who was 10 years older, and then Tom Watson, who was 10 years younger.

Rivalries aren’t always determined by head-to-head meetings as much as how often players win. That’s why Woods and Phil Mickelson established the best rivalry of their generation.

“I’m going to let other people make the comparisons,” McIlroy said. “I’m not going to try and compare myself to anyone else. I’ve never said that I want to be the next anyone. I just want to be the first Rory McIlroy, however good that turns out to be. Then, I’ll try my best to win tournaments and to win majors and to be the best player in the world.

“There’s still a long road ahead, and I feel like I can accomplish a lot more.”

Lost in this discussion is Mickelson, who returns from a two-week break after playing as well as anyone. Mickelson shot 64 in the final round to win at Pebble Beach (with Woods at his side shooting a 75), then lost in a playoff at Riviera. 

Mickelson has never been No. 1, and he has no problems with McIlroy at the top. Still, he looks at a broader picture of Donald and Westwood, former PGA champion Martin Kaymer, and even Mickelson as players capable of taking over.

“We have not had somebody play to the level of Tiger, and so we have four, five, six guys that are battling for the No. 1 spot, it seems, monthly,” Mickelson said. “I don’t know where it will all settle, but certainly he’s a worthy No. 1.”

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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.