After MC, Phil sets sights on Presidents Cup

By Will GrayAugust 11, 2017, 6:50 pm

Updated 5:05 p.m

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A return to a place where he’s had considerable success turned into a week to forget for Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson played his first 30 holes of the PGA Championship without making a single birdie, and after rounds of 79-74 will miss the cut by several shots. Thursday’s opener marked the highest round of Mickelson’s PGA Championship career, and this will be the first time he sits out the weekend since missing the cut at Riviera in 1995.

Mickelson also missed the cut last month at The Open, and this is the second time in as many years that he has missed back-to-back cuts in majors.

“These last couple tournaments, the British and here, have been atrocious,” Mickelson said.

The 47-year-old downplayed his recent struggles as the sign of a larger slump, and he also didn’t blame his change in caddie after he and Jim “Bones” Mackay amicably ended a 25-year partnership in June.

“I don’t know how that would really affect the shots that I’ve been hitting,” he said. “I don’t know how that would play into it.”

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Mickelson stood little chance of making the cut after his disastrous opener at Quail Hollow Club, but his struggles continued with bogeys on three of his first seven holes to start the second round. According to Lefty, the root of the issue lies with his mental focus, not his physical execution.

“It’s not like I’m hitting the ball crooked, I’m just hitting it in the wrong spots, and I’m just not really controlling my thought process, where I want the ball to go,” he said. “I’m not real focused out there, and I’m having a tough time visualizing the shot. I’m having a tough time controlling my thoughts and not letting it wander to what I don’t want to have happen.”

Mickelson will take next week off before teeing it up in each of the first two playoff events. He entered the week 17th in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings, and after making every American team since 1993, he's looking to either earn one of 10 automatic spots on the team or receive one of Steve Stricker’s two captain’s picks.

“I would love to be on it, but the way I’m playing – I’ve got to play better,” Mickelson said. “If I can play well in those (playoff events), I have a chance to get on the team on my own. And if I play well in them and I don’t make it, I have a chance to be a pick. But I’ve got to play well in them is the thing.”

The cutoff for automatic qualifying on the U.S. side is Sept. 4. Needless to say, Mickelson's streak of 22 consecutive team competitions is in jeopardy.

“He told me he wants to be on this team more than anything,” Stricker said Friday. “I would love to see him on the team. But just like anybody else, I’ve got to see who is playing well at the time. I know he’s struggling a little bit right now, but I told him I would like to see him play well from here on out to show me something basically. That doesn’t sound right coming from a guy like me talking to Phil. But that’s basically what I said. Show me that you are playing good at the end of the year, because I would love to have him on the team.”

Making the subplot even juicier is that Stricker said he would consult with his assistant captains before any roster decision. One of his assistants is Mickelson’s longtime rival, Tiger Woods.

“We need the best guys playing the best at the end of the year going forward,” Stricker said. “That’s what we’re going to be looking at. It’s going to be a team decision with all the assistant captains.”

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 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.