If not for one hole, Spieth would be co-leading

By Rex HoggardApril 8, 2017, 12:25 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Twenty years ago Tiger Woods set the Masters standard for competitive perseverance.

In his first start at Augusta National as a professional, Woods limped out to a front-nine 40 on Thursday that included four bogeys and not a single birdie.

That he went on to win that year’s Masters by 12 strokes is now part of major championship lore, and however this week plays out for Jordan Spieth he’s probably not going to be able to rival that accomplishment – but he’s trying.

For Spieth, it wasn’t nine holes that put him four strokes on the wrong side of par, it was a single hole, the par-5 15th that featured a poor choice, some poor timing and three poor putts that added up to a quadruple bogey-9.

The miscue, which Spieth explained was caused by a bad decision to go at the pin with his third shot despite swirling winds that were gusting to 40 mph, dropped the 23-year-old to 4 over par and put a serious dent into any potential title hopes.

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But after a similarly tough start on Friday that included two bogeys through his first four holes, Spieth rallied with a closing nine of 33 that included a 13-footer at the 18th hole to move to even par for the week and just four strokes off the lead.

“Dramatically,” Spieth said when asked if his outlook for the rest of the week had improved since Thursday. “I'm very pleased with the second round of this Masters and we're in a position now where we can go out there and win. So, that right there just kind of gives me chills, because after yesterday I was really disappointed in being 10 shots off the lead.”

Spieth’s turnaround is even more impressive considering how difficult it was to move past his poor decision on the 15th hole on Day 1. A bad swing, that happens, but not picking the correct play is something the normally meticulous Spieth has serious issues with.

“It's definitely harder to get over a club selection than it is a bad swing,” he said. “Bad swings happen and you practice for the bad swings not to happen, but the club choices, it's definitely very difficult out here all the time, let alone when it's windy, but that's definitely tougher to get over, because I put a good swing on it and I did kind of did my part.”

Although he avoided any similarly costly mistakes on Friday, there were some tense moments for Spieth on another wind-whipped day. At the 13th hole he backed away from his second shot when his golf ball appeared to oscillate in the rough.

He called in caddie Michael Greller, who assured Spieth his ball didn’t move, and had officials check the footage, who also confirmed the ball hadn’t moved.

Spieth birdied No. 13 despite the distraction to begin his run and put himself back in contention at an event where he’s never finished outside the top 2.

“Those last couple putts, I had confidence in them, put really nice strokes on them and I finally got them to go,” he said. “I hit all nine greens on the back nine and had three birdies and one of them was a 2‑putt. They were getting close and then finally I saw the one go in on [No.] 16.”

Spieth still has 36 holes to play and Woods’ rally in 1997 may never be eclipsed in terms of Grand Slam tenacity, but he does have the chance to make some history of his own and become the first player to win the Masters with a “9” on his card.

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.