After Further Review: Masters microscope

By Will GrayFebruary 22, 2016, 2:58 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Spieth's and McIlroy's struggles ...

Jordan Spieth opened his week in Los Angeles with a 79. Rory McIlroy closed his with a 75. No reason to worry – yet. Even the world’s best golfers are allowed a bad day at the office, and little went right for Spieth on Thursday or McIlroy on Sunday. To channel the familiar coach-speak of Bill Belichick, they’re both on to Florida. 

Both are playing relatively well despite the unexpected hiccups, as Spieth followed with a second-round 68 while McIlroy proved a quick study through the first three rounds at Riviera. But rest assured, their margin for error will dwindle quickly as the Masters approaches, and each individual performance will be housed under an increasingly exacting microscope. A bad round in February is easily forgotten. A similar performance in March, on the other hand, can often pose a larger issue as that trip to Magnolia Lane draws near. - Will Gray 

On familiar faces at Augusta ...

The journey on the road to Augusta National quickens with this week’s turn to the Florida swing. That means it’s nearly time to “round up the usual suspects” because we all know how often the Masters comes down to familiar faces with proven records there. With Bubba Watson winning the Northern Trust Open on Sunday and Adam Scott finishing a shot back, oddsmakers will be moving them up their list of favorites. Watson presented the green jacket to Scott in 2013 and Scott presented it to Watson in ’14. They’re looking ready to try to get defending champ Jordan Spieth to slip yet another green jacket on one of them six weeks from now. For Watson, there’s an every-other-year feeling to this. He won his first Masters in ’12 and won the Northern Trust Open in ’14 on his way to his second green jacket. - Randall Mell

On the NTO's improving field ...

Some figured the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing would take a hit when the WGC-Match Play bolted for a new spring home in Austin, Texas, but if the field at the Northern Trust Open was any indication the move may have been a boost to the Left Coast. Last week’s field at Riviera was the best in Los Angeles since 2013 according to the Official World Golf Ranking, and with 60 ranking points going to the champion it also held the distinction of having this year’s deepest tee sheet.

Even more encouraging for tournament organizers is that the world’s best liked what they saw. “This is definitely going to be a regular for me on the schedule going forward,” said world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who played the L.A. stop for the first time last week. - Rex Hoggard 








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.

Getty Images

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 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.