Punch Shot: Tiger Tracker weighs in on Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 29, 2017, 2:11 pm

 

Tiger Woods' return to competition means one thing: the return of GCTigerTracker. GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard caught up with the man of mystery to discuss Tracker's expecations of His Man this week and beyond - as well as what Tracker does when he's not tracking.

Hoggard: OK, TT, glad to see you’re back at work. Now, you’ve had a chance to see Tiger for a couple of days, what are your expectations for him this week?

Tracker: First of all, Rexy, let’s acknowledge that you guys are letting me play inside the writing sandbox for this little article. Secondly, my expectations for him are the same that they are for me – to walk 72 holes pain free. It’s been awhile since either of us have done this. Your expectations of him are higher than that?

Hoggard: Yes, actually. There has been a lot of chatter about how far he’s hitting the ball. Combine that with dramatically improved health, I’m not sure I’ll be overly excited with a T-17, but anything inside the top 10 should be in his wheelhouse.

Tracker: I’d take that right now and move onto … well, where ever he plays next. This whole thing is difficult for me. I have no expectations, he doesn’t seem to have high expectations. But when we hear how long he’s hitting it – Tuesday we saw how long he was hitting it and, well, we have higher expectations. Top-10 would be tremendous. Just tremendous. To beat eight world-class dudes in this field would be huge. From watching him the past couple days what do you think he’ll do well, and what do you think he will not do well?


Follow Tiger Woods at the Hero with Tiger Tracker


Hoggard: You’re not too bad at this scribe gig. Ever think of moonlighting as a writer? Driving looks like it will be his strength (believe it or not). Short game may be an issue. He went straight to the short-game area after his practice round, which is an indication he’s not entirely comfortable on that front. Let’s get real for a moment, who wins the Round 1 two-ball – TW or JT?

Tracker: Lower myself to the level of a scribe? Never. I just don’t know how you can go against JT in this case. He’s so fired up to play with Tiger, who asked him about the pairing a couple weeks ago. JT said he wants to “kick his a**” and I believe him. I respect Tiger for jumping back into the mix and opting to play with JT. He could’ve picked someone lower profile, but he went with the dude who smoked everyone all year (#respect). From asking that question, you actually think TW has a chance against JT?

Hoggard: After watching JT drive the ball for nine holes today, I don’t think it would be impossible, but Tiger needs a lot of things to go right. On another note, what do you do when you’re not tracking?

Tracker: Ha ... you don’t really want to know. But one thing I do is gain weight quicker than any human alive. If gaining weight was an Olympic sport you’re looking at your gold medalist in a landslide. I mean to go from walking so much to not moving? Then trying to lose it all so I can actually follow the main man is brutal. Other than that ... you miss me or something?

Hoggard: Sure, we all missed you ... and the other guy. Let’s forget expectations this week. What’s more likely, Tiger qualifies for the playoffs or Jordan Spieth three-putts from 2 feet at Augusta National?

Tracker: Damn, you're digging deep here, Rexy. Remember, me don’t write that good at all. Neither is happening, and I think you know that. But I’ll play your silly little game – Spieth three-putting from 2 feet at Augusta National is more likely. Only because there is still so much unknown from Tiger and how he’ll play, where he’ll play and if he plays. No?

Hoggard: Look, man, you’re the all-Tiger, all-the-time guy. How’s your schedule shaping up? Thinking Torrey Pines, L.A., Honda, Bay Hill. Anything booked after that (hint: if Tiger remains healthy you may want to join a hotel and airline rewards program)?

Tracker: Sounds about right. I wish he’d stay away from Torrey, but it won’t happen. And I loved Dubai earlier this year but I just think the optics of going there again would be awful. So, if healthy, give him the four majors and The Players, the four you listed, the Memorial, The (sponsorless) National and maybe something like the Wyndham and we’re getting well into the double digits if he doesn’t qualify for the playoffs. That seems like crazy talk, considering two months ago he didn’t know if he’d ever play again.

Hoggard: OK, let’s finish strong here. Of everything Tiger said on Tuesday, what gave you the most encouragement going into the first round?

Tracker: Simple, that he’s pain free. I haven’t believed him in the past when he’s said that because I’ve seen his face, I’ve seen him wince. This week, so far, I’ve seen none of that so I tend to believe him. He looks in great spirits, is smiling on the golf course with his buddies and I think that, more than anything, bodes well for a solid four days.

Hoggard: Agreed, although I also liked how he seems to be coming off that “second sucks” mentality. This road will be long and Tiger, and Tiger Tracker, will need to be patient. Good opening act, TT. Catch you on Thursday.

Tracker: Cool, thanks again for letting me tag along. Henceforth, I'll stick to tracking.

Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

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 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.