Wie women's hottest player, but not in International Crown

By Randall MellJune 26, 2014, 3:26 pm

Michelle Wie’s victory Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open comes with a lot of perks, but a berth on the American team for the International Crown next month isn’t one of them.

Given the dominant run she is on this year, Wie’s participation could bring enormous attention to the new international team event, an Olympic-style competition that will pit eight nations against each other July 24-27 at Caves Valley outside Baltimore, Md.

The eight nations who earned berths were set on Nov. 21, before the last event of the 2013 season. Qualifying to see which four individuals made each team was set on March 31, with the release of the Rolex world rankings following the conclusion of the Kia Classic.

The top four Americans who made the team (and their rankings at the time) were: Stacy Lewis (No. 3), Paula Creamer (No. 8), Lexi Thompson (No. 9) and Cristie Kerr (No. 12). Wie was No. 38 in the world at that time, making her just the 10th-highest ranked American in the world.

Wie moved to No. 7 in the world with her U.S. Women’s Open victory, making her the third-highest ranked American woman today, behind Lewis (No. 1) and Thompson (No. 5). The only way Wie could still make the International Crown is as an alternate, but she’s the sixth alternate for the United States.

It begs a question: Why did the LPGA end individual qualifying so early in the year, almost four months out in front of the event? If qualifying had ended after the U.S. Women’s Open, the most important event of the LPGA season, the drama surrounding qualifying would have added spice to earlier events, and allowed somebody like Wie to make the team with a hot run.

Give Dottie Pepper credit, she questioned the early qualification way back on Jan. 22 in an article for ESPNW.

“This simply is too early and does not assure that those playing the best golf will be representing their countries when the Crown rolls around,” Pepper wrote. “This is like Tom Watson having to finalize his Ryder Cup team, which doesn't compete until late September, somewhere around Memorial Day.”

So why did qualifying end so early?

“It’s a good question,” Heather Daly-Donofrio, LPGA senior vice president of tour operations, told GolfChannel.com. “With the International Crown a new event, without team captains, and with the four players determining everything themselves, we wanted to give players a level of comfort with the logistics, with planning their schedules, given the global nature of the event.

“In wanting to make sure the inaugural event was the best it could be, we thought making the cutoff early would help players get comfortable preparing for the event, and help educate players and fans about the event. There are so many unknowns in putting on a first-time global event like this, in juggling eight teams, getting uniforms and everything else ready.”

Daly-Donofrio said the qualifying times would be addressed once the inaugural event concludes and is evaluated by tour staff.

“Once you’ve gone through the event the first time, you have a better understanding what lead times are needed,” Daly-Donofrio said. “After the event, we will discuss any tweaks we think are needed.”

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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.

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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.