Power Rankings: 2016 Honda Classic

By Will GrayFebruary 22, 2016, 8:02 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour heads to Florida this week for the Honda Classic. A field of 144 players will tackle the Champion Course at PGA National, home of the infamous "Bear Trap" finishing stretch.

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Padraig Harrington won this event last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger. Here are 10 players to watch in Palm Beach Gardens:

1. Rory McIlroy: According to the recent pattern, McIlroy is due for a big week. The Ulsterman won here in 2012 and lost in a playoff in 2014, but he withdrew abruptly in 2013 and missed the cut last year. After playing his way into contention at Riviera, McIlroy should return to his successful ways at Honda.

2. Rickie Fowler: Fowler is playing for the first time since letting the trophy slip away at TPC Scottsdale. A winner earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, he has four top-5 finishes among his last five worldwide starts and appears comfortable on nearly any sort of venue. His Honda credentials include three top-25 finishes over the last four years.

3. Patrick Reed: Reed has gotten progressively better at PGA National: T-58 in 2013, T-24 in 2014 and T-7 last year. He rallied for a T-6 finish two weeks ago at Pebble Beach and has been a near-constant fixture on leaderboards since his torrid stretch across Asia to close out last year.

4. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson returns to action two weeks after his runner-up performance at Pebble Beach, a result that closed out a strong West Coast Swing for the 45-year-old. Lefty appears to be having fun again, his results have improved dramatically and he finished T-17 at PGA National a year ago.

5. Russell Knox: The Scot makes his home in Jacksonville Beach and is quite familiar with the tests presented by Florida courses. One of the best ball-strikers on Tour, he has kept his ball in play the last two years on the Champion Course en route to a playoff loss (2014) and T-3 finish (2015). His confidence should be even higher this time around after he notched his maiden win earlier this season in China.

6. Adam Scott: The Aussie has shown in recent months that the anchoring ban may not be the death nell it once appeared to be. Scott's runner-up at Riviera was his third such result in his last seven starts, and while he remains somewhat balky on the greens he rolled in plenty of mid-range putts Sunday and finished T-12 at this event two years ago.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom had no letdown following his dramatic win in Phoenix, as Matsuyama finished T-11 last week in Los Angeles. While his lone trip to PGA National ended with a withdrawal in 2014, Matsuyama is clearly playing well right now and his tee-to-green game should fit nicely with the Champion Course.

8. Branden Grace: Grace doesn't make many starts in the U.S., but he showed last year at Chambers Bay that he can tame a difficult layout. The South African successfully defended his title last month in Qatar, and his recent form actually includes six straight finishes of T-8 or better dating back to November.

9. Graeme McDowell: McDowell's accurate game is a strong match for the exacting Champion Course, and his track record includes three straight top-10 finishes from 2011-2013. While he missed the cut last year, the Ulsterman has been recharged by a strong fall campaign that included a win in Mexico and T-3 finish at Sea Island.

10. Luke Donald: The Englishman hasn't been on too many leaderboards in recent weeks, but that trend usually changes with this event. Donald has cracked the top 10 in each of his last four trips to Palm Beach Gardens, dating back to a runner-up in 2008 and including last year's T-7 finish.

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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.