Lowry admits scheduling switch 'backfired'

By Will GraySeptember 1, 2016, 2:23 pm

Shane Lowry admitted a late tweak to his schedule "backfired" after the Irishman failed to make the Ryder Cup team and saw his PGA Tour season end earlier than expected.

Lowry was firmly in the mix for a spot on Darren Clarke's team after carrying a four-shot lead into the final round of the U.S. Open. He tied for second at Oakmont, but his results dried up shortly thereafter - a fact that Lowry attributes to the mounting pressure he placed on himself to earn a spot at Hazeltine.

"Since Oakmont, the Ryder Cup has been on my mind a lot. It's been like a cloud hanging over me, and I just never got momentum," Lowry wrote in the Irish Times. "I lost confidence quickly after the U.S. Open, which shouldn't have happened. I should have gained confidence. But a couple bad weeks - those missed cuts in Scotland - does that to you."

Equipped with hindsight, Lowry also questioned his decision to play as much as he did in the U.S., where he used his first full season as a PGA Tour member to add stops like Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Houston to his schedule.

"I played a lot in America, a lot of new courses and new tournaments, and people underestimate how difficult that is," he wrote. "You're playing against guys who've played these courses for 10 years. It's simple things, like standing over a wedge shot to a blind green and knowing if the ball releases on the green."

When it was clear after the PGA Championship that Lowry would fall short of automatic qualification, he decided to change his schedule in the hopes of catching Clarke's attention. He added the Wyndham Championship and opted to play last week in Denmark rather than at The Barclays.

But Lowry's T-42 finish in Greensboro didn't create much traction, and he finished T-24 in Denmark while Thomas Pieters earned the last Ryder Cup spot with the type of late surge that Lowry had envisioned for himself. To make matters worse, he slipped from No. 87 to No. 102 in the FedEx Cup race by skipping Bethpage, and only the top 100 players qualified for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship.

As a result, Lowry's PGA Tour postseason ended without him hitting a single shot. After a busy summer stretch, he now plans to take the next five weeks off before beginning his run to what he hopes will be a spot on the 2018 European Ryder Cup team.

"Do I regret going to Denmark? If I didn't go, I'd always be thinking, 'What if?'" he wrote. "I regret going now, though, because I am not in Boston and I have missed out on the chance to play the FedEx Cup. But I went to Denmark to try to make the Ryder Cup team, and I gave it my all. The plan backfired on me."

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.