Woods' return a comeback or just a cameo?

By Doug FergusonOctober 4, 2011, 11:00 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – This might be more of a cameo than a comeback for Tiger Woods.

Or maybe a little of both.

When he tees off in the Frys.com Open, Woods will have gone 54 days without having hit a meaningful golf shot. That’s the longest stretch of his career without competition when he wasn’t dealing with some form of rehab.

The buzz for his return is predictable. The tournament is close to a sellout, with ticket sales already five times higher than a year ago. There remains no greater draw in golf.

Less predictable is what Woods will do on the course. He is capable of winning at CordeValle, because no matter what he has or hasn’t done in the last two years, he is capable of anything.

“I think this is a fresh start,” swing coach Sean Foley said Tuesday.

And then, Woods will stop again.

What makes this feel like a cameo appearance is Woods has been gone for seven weeks, and after the Frys.com Open, he won’t compete again for a full month when he plays in the Australian Open. He has the inaugural Tiger Woods Invitational next week at Pebble Beach - essentially a fundraiser for his foundation - and most likely has his two children the following week. His schedule was set long before Woods knew how this season would pan out.

After the Australian Open is the Presidents Cup, and then a week off before Woods ends his season at the Chevron World Challenge.

That’s four tournaments over the final three months of the year, hardly the kind of schedule for a player to build any momentum, even a guy who rarely plays more than about 20 times a year even in the best of times.

The best measure of any comeback won’t start until 2012.

One television promotion trumpeted coverage of all four rounds of Woods’ return, forgetting perhaps that unlike his last return at Firestone, the Frys.com Open has a 36-hole cut. Does anyone expect to Woods to be gone by the weekend? He was the last time he played, at the PGA Championship.

But what does anyone really know of Woods’ game after a year like this?

There was some good. He shot 30 on the front nine of Augusta National in the final round of the Masters and was briefly tied for the lead until he stalled on the back nine by missing short putts and tied for fourth. That was his best finish this year.

There was plenty of bad, from his 74-75 weekend at Torrey Pines to his nine-hole 42 before withdrawing from The Players Championship to his 77 in the opening round of the PGA Championship, the first time ever in a major that he finished out of the top 100.

Mostly, though, this year gets an “incomplete.”

Woods has played only 117 holes over three tournaments since the Masters. He missed three months, including two majors, this summer when he wisely decided to stop playing until his left knee and Achilles’ tendon were fully healed. He now says his left leg feels the best it has in years.

Why should anyone expect something different from Woods at a course he has never played than at Firestone, where he had won seven times?

Woods said he feels more prepared this time.

In a conference call last week for the Presidents Cup, he said he was excited to get back to golf “knowing that I’m finally healthy enough to do it now, and I’ve practiced, something I had not done in preparation for Akron and the PGA.”

“But now that I’ve actually practiced, I’ve gotten even stronger in my lifting sessions, so things are definitely shaping up quickly,” he added.

Foley said Woods practiced for about 10 hours before showing up at Firestone, where a good opening round (68) turned into another mediocre week (tied for 37th). He went home for a few days before going to Atlanta Athletic Club, where he fueled more speculation that his best golf was behind him.

“Here you’ve had all this time off as he was trying to do a new swing,” Foley said. “He was quite ingrained when he took time off before and came back to it because it was the swing he was doing. This is really the perfect storm - injured, changing his swing, not being able to put a lot of time into it. That’s the perfect storm for not playing to the level you can.”

“I believe in the direction we’re headed,” he said. “And I obviously believe in how great he is.”

The latest tease was Woods breaking the course record at The Medalist last week with a 62. It was just a practice round with friends, and with no pressure. Then again, Foley points out 100 PGA Tour players have been on Greg Norman’s course in South Florida without doing better than 64.

That really doesn’t matter.

Foley said he gets stopped 500 times a week by people asking about his most famous client, all but a few of them wishing for the best and hopeful that Woods can return to his game. That doesn’t matter, either, nor do the remarks from two or three others who make obnoxious comments.

Ultimately, all that matters is the score on Woods’ card, and that won’t be determined until he tees off Thursday at CordeValle.

And then he’ll be gone for a month.

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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.