Fact Pack: Northern Trust Open

By Will GrayFebruary 14, 2012, 6:30 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open. Defending champion Aaron Baddeley and many of the world's best golfers will look to conquer the course known as 'Hogan's Alley,' which ranked among the top 10 most difficult on Tour in 2011. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title this week and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

• World No. 1 Luke Donald makes his 2012 PGA Tour debut this week at Riviera. This event has been feast or famine for him in recent memory; in 10 starts here since 2002, Donald has recorded five top-15 finishes along with four missed cuts.

Jason Kokrak will look to build upon a strong performance at Pebble Beach last week. Rebounding well after three consecutive missed cuts, Kokrak led the AT&T field in greens in regulation, finished T-2 in birdies and sixth in driving distance en route to a T-9 finish - best among Tour rookies.

Fred Couples will be making his 30th career start in this event. When Couples first teed it up at Riviera CC in the 1982 Los Angeles Open, Tom Watson came from behind to defeat Johnny Miller in a playoff for the title.

• Group 2 golfer Greg Chalmers will hope that recent form trumps past experience this week. In four NTO starts since 2002, Chalmers' best finish has been T-55. He is off to a solid start in 2012 though, particularly around the greens, ranking fifth on Tour in sand save percentage, seventh in total putting and ninth in strokes gained putting.

• Those looking for a 'safe' option for their Group 1 selection this week should consider K.J. Choi. The 2011 Players champion has never missed a cut at Riviera, including three top-10s in the last four years. Choi has a 69.93 career stroke average in this event; only Fred Couples and 2001 champion Robert Allenby have a lower stroke average across more rounds at Riviera CC.

In recent years, creating birdie opportunities has been a key metric for overall tournament success here, as each of the past six NTO champions finished the week in the top 10 in greens in regulation. This bodes well for Bubba Watson, currently second on Tour in GIR and coming off a strong T-5 showing in Phoenix two weeks ago.

• FedEx Cup points leader Kyle Stanley will look to continue a strong sophomore campaign in his first start since winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Stanley's well-rounded game is evident, as he ranks in the top 10 on Tour in driving distance, greens in regulation percentage and birdie average while carding 10/15 rounds this year in the 60s.

• South African Tim Clark will be making his first start in nine months after an elbow injury sidelined him for most of the 2011 season. Clark, who had surgery on the elbow in August, has had prior success in this event, posting three top-15 finishes in seven career starts.

Jeff Overton will also be returning from injury, albeit a more minor one, as a bad wrist forced him to withdraw in Phoenix two weeks ago. He will look to a hot putter to help tame the poa annua greens of Riviera; Overton currently ranks fourth on Tour in total putting and has made 76 percent of his putts this year from 5-10 feet, currently the best on Tour from that distance.

Bryce Molder has leaned on a strong short game in posting three top-15 finishes in five starts this year, and will need it again this week as he battles the kikuyu rough around the greens at Riviera. Molder has gotten up and down when it counts, though, ranking second on Tour in scrambling and compiling a 68.67 final round stroke average.

You can watch complete coverage of the Northern Trust Open Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 3PM-6PM ET.

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.