Punch Shot: Pros, cons of PGA, Players moves

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 8, 2017, 11:13 pm

It was officially announced on Tuesday that the PGA Championship will be moving to May and The Players Championship to March, beginning in 2019. Did the PGA of America and the PGA Tour make the right call? Are these all the right moves? Chatting back and forth on Slack, a real-time messaging system, GolfChannel.com senior writers Ryan Lavner and Rex Hoggard weighed in and debated the issue:

Ryan Lavner
OK, Rex. So the news that we've been anticipating for months finally became official Tuesday: The Players is returning to March, and the PGA is moving from August to May. What's your immediate reaction: A good move, or a mistake?

Rex Hoggard
Good move, but like most good moves there are some issues. The PGA is giving up some northern venues with the new date and what has been the event's identity - the year's final chance to win a major.

Ryan Lavner
And that's my ONLY problem with this move: What will the PGA be known for? Having the most top-100 players? The only major with 20 club pros? It now falls into a weird spot, as the second major of the year. As for eliminating the northern venues, I'm not buying it – yet. Yeah, maybe this rules out Whistling Straits and Hazeltine going forward, but let's get past Bethpage (2019) and Oak Hill (2023) first. That will tell us more.

Rex Hoggard
And it adds new venues in the south and southwest, which may end up being a good trade off; but the best thing about this move is it keeps the PGA from becoming an afterthought every four years during the Olympics. It was their only option.

PGA Championship: Tee times | Full coverage

Ryan Lavner
One other thing, before we move on: It's another month of torture for golf fans. Now they have to wait from late July to early April to get their major fix. The diehards reading this website will still care about the playoffs and the European Tour's postseason, of course, but aren't you worried about an even longer break between the events that sports fans care about most?

Rex Hoggard
Aren't you the guy who wanted to dig into the "no off-season" idea today? Which way do you want it, a condensed season with five consecutive months of marquee events, or an extra month to drag things out? This is a big piece to solving the Tour's most concerning issue, going head-to-head with college and pro football.

Ryan Lavner
I have no problem with the pre-Labor Day finish. There's no sense competing against football, and players, for the most part, would seem to agree. But the biggest complaints I've seen from fans about this – if my ravaged Twitter account is any indication – is the extended break.

Rex Hoggard
This afternoon Rory McIlroy was asked about the possibility of an "extended" break and talked about how that "exclusivity" makes it more special, much like you look forward to spring training in baseball. There will still be golf in the fall for diehard fans, but not major championships.

Ryan Lavner
Let's move on to the second piece of this announcement: The Players is going back to its mid-March date. Having any flashbacks to pre-2007?

Rex Hoggard
Couldn't help but go back to '07 when the Tour would tell anyone who would listen that TPC Sawgrass would play better in May because of better weather. Now they will have to convince folks it will be fine in March. Good fun.

Ryan Lavner
Oh, you must be talking about the EXTENSIVE analysis the Tour types did. Right. Back to March it goes, but it’s once again the centerpiece of the Florida swing – where it belongs.

Rex Hoggard
The PGA and Players’ moves were simply a part, albeit a big part, of a larger schedule shakeup for 2019 and beyond. The Florida swing will look much different – with the Tampa stop likely going to the fall portion of the schedule – as will the rest of the season.

Ryan Lavner
The only "meh" part of this move, to me, is where will players get a true Masters tuneup? It's not gonna be at PGA National. It's definitely not at Sawgrass. Or Austin CC. Or TPC San Antonio. Ugh. Bring back Doral.

Rex Hoggard
I would contend that moving The Players back to March will prompt players to get into "mid-season form" a little quicker. There are guys who show up at Augusta National that are playing their third or fourth event of the season. That won't happen with the schedule change.

Ryan Lavner
My biggest takeaway from this whole thing is that the Tour is waving the white flag, saying that it's tired of going up against football. That's a big concession ... but it's the right move.

Rex Hoggard
It's the right move, but it will be interesting to see the rest of the pieces fall into place over the next few months. There is a clear plan in place at Tour HQ, but I've been told that many of the players don't like how the circuit wants to head down that road. You may not want to know how this meal gets made.

Ryan Lavner
And that's what we call a cliffhanger.

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.