Tiger vs. the unknown in battle for Ryder Cup bid

By Jason SobelJuly 30, 2014, 5:19 pm

AKRON, Ohio – If Tiger Woods winds up getting selected as a captain’s pick for this year’s Ryder Cup team – and yes, it’s still a big if – he might have clinched his spot with a second-place finish at the John Deere Classic three weeks ago.

Considering he didn’t play that event, you’re forgiven for giving that sentence a double-take. But bear with me here.

The second-place finish wasn’t Woods’ own; it belonged to Zach Johnson. Based on that result, Johnson moved past Patrick Reed and into the ninth and final automatic qualifying spot for the United States roster.

With two events remaining before those nine spots are solidified – this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and next week’s PGA Championship, which carries double points – there can still be plenty of turnover. However, if – yes, another big if – the automatic qualifiers remain the same, it just might have created a position for Woods on the team.

It all comes down to Tom Watson’s three potential wildcard selections.


Current U.S. Ryder Cup standings


As I’ve stated for a few months now, it’s hard to imagine Watson overlooking Phil Mickelson for a 10th career team. The failures of his season thus far have been overstated. No, he hasn’t won yet, but he’s hardly been terrible. His experience and name-recognition alone should help him get on this team.

I also think Keegan Bradley has played well enough – and proven to Watson how much the event means to him – that he’s worthy of a captain’s pick, even if he doesn’t seriously contend these next two weeks. He was among the team’s best players at Medinah two years ago and on a recent scouting mission to Gleneagles, the captain raved about how the course suits his game.

That leaves one final spot on the 12-man roster.

If Johnson needs that spot – hey, another big if – it’s completely fathomable that Watson would choose him over Woods. With a win, a second, a third and five other top-25 finishes to go along with a lengthy international team resume, Johnson is deserving of being on the team. Take him over Tiger, and the captain wouldn’t get much of an argument from anyone who’s been paying attention.

With Johnson currently inside that top-nine, though, it leaves an amalgam of up-and-comers and unproven talents as potential picks alongside Woods.

Reed has cooled off after a hot start. Same goes for Chris Kirk. Brendon Todd has enjoyed a torrid two-month stretch, but like Reed and Kirk, he’s never played under anything close to a Ryder Cup spotlight. Webb Simpson and Ryan Moore are more experienced players and don’t quite fit that narrative, though their possible inclusion still leads to a question that Watson needs to be asking himself right now:

“Do I want to go into battle with a 14-time major champion still trying to find his game or a more unknown commodity?”

If that question could be answered with Johnson instead taking that third and final captain’s selection, it’s very possible that Watson could overlook Woods for the team. When it comes down to him or one of those aforementioned contenders, though, it’s difficult to see him bypassing that known commodity.

But, of course, with two weeks left for players to still qualify, all of this remains a big if for now.

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.