Almost Epic

By Mercer BaggsAugust 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
Heath Slocum wins The Barclays

 
DON'T BLAME ME: Heath Slocum won the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event, parring the 72nd hole for a one-shot triumph over Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker. In the process, Slocum moved from 124th to third on the FedEx Cup points list.
 
Backspin Slocum deserves great applause for beating three sure-fire future Hall of Famers. However ... this was a MASSIVE blow to The Playoffs. To start with a sudden-death battle featuring Woods, Els and Harrington could have been like the first three rounds of the Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns fight, but with the prospect of it going nine more. In the end, The Barclays crowned a deserving champion, but one who quashed a lot of buzz by making one 20-foot putt.
 
Liberty National Golf Club

 
(DON'T) GIVE ME LIBERTY: Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., played host to The Barclays for the first time. The course offered picturesque views, including the Statue of Liberty. However, players didn't seem overly impressed with the course itself.
 
Backspin Tiger Woods bypassed the media each of the first two days, presumably adhering to the adage, 'If you don't have anything nice to say ... .' Even Tour nice guy Zach Johnson responded with, 'I'm not your guy,' when asked to comment on the course. Are PGA Tour players pampered and whiny? Of course they are. And they should be tased for complaining about things like bumpy greens at Pebble Beach. But they do have a point on this one: They're in the 'playoffs,' playing for millions and millions of dollars. They shouldn't be playing on tracks where one the best things anyone could muster was, building this course 'ruined a perfectly good landfill.'
 
Sergio Garcia at The Barclays

 
DO YOU MIND?: One week after coming up one inch short of missing out on a playoff, Sergio Garcia took a share of the first-round lead at The Barclays after an opening 6-under 65. He then shot 76-74-70 to tie for 31st.
 
Backspin Garcia remains winless on Tour since last year's Players. He's also endured some pretty brutal defeats the past few seasons. But I wouldn't advise him to see a sports psychologist, simply because I don't believe in them. Not like werewolves, I do believe sports psychologists exist. I just find their existence further evidence as to how much better Tiger Woods is than everybody else. He doesn't need one, and neither do you, Sergio. Use that money on better things. Like taffy.
 
Jim Furyk

 
NO QUIT IN FURYK: Jim Furyk closed in 69 Sunday at The Barclays to tie for 15th, six shots back of winner Heath Slocum. If not for a third-round blunder, however, he might have contended for the title. Furyk played the first two holes Saturday with an extra club in his bag. He was penalized two strokes per hole.
 
Backspin After becoming aware of the infraction – which turned a pair of opening pars into two double bogeys – Furyk responded with five birdies and no bogeys over the remainder of his round. He then made three more birdie to just one bogey Sunday. Furyk is the Bizarro World John Daly – or vice versa.
 
Adam Scott

 
TAKE IT EASY: The top 100 players on the FedEx Cup points list qualified for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston. Some of those missing the cut were: K.J. Choi (No. 101), Michael Allen (108) and Adam Scott (110),
 
Backspin Four players jumped inside the top 100 (Heath Slocum, Fredrik Jacobson, Troy Matteson and Richard S. Johnson) and four fell out (Choi, Matt Bettencourt, George McNeil and Ben Curtis). Thirty more players will get the ax after the Labor Day conclusion of the Deutsche Bank.
 
M.J. Hur wins the Safeway Classic

 
THAT TROPHY'S BIGGER THAN HUR: M.J. Hur, a rookie on the LPGA, birdied the second extra hole to defeat Suzann Pettersen at the Safeway Classic. Hur shot a flawless five birdie, one eagle, 7-under 65 Sunday en route to her first tour win. Pettersen was in complete control of the tournament until a bogey at 14 and a double bogey at 15.
 
Backspin As senior writer Randall Mell pointed out it's been nearly four months since an American has won on the LPGA. Maybe they should make more tournaments team events.
 
Michelle Wie

 
WIE'RE GETTING CLOSER: Michelle Wie finished two back at the Safeway Classic, two removed from a playoff. She shot rounds of 68-71-66 for her fourth top-5 finish of the season.
 
Backspin Wie was done in by an erratic second round, which included five birdies and four bogeys. But she made a game of it on Sunday, recording six birdies without dropping a shot. Wie has never been much of a closer. If that changes, she'll add considerably to the American win total each year.
 
Paula Creamer

 
SICK TO HER STOMACH: As reported by Randall Mell, Paula Creamer withdrew from the Safeway Classic due to flu-like symptoms. Her family is hoping this recent ailment is just a bug and not more serious. Creamer has suffered from a mysterious stomach malady since last year, which is still undiagnosed.
 
Backspin What's scarier than the unknown? You're sick and doctors can't tell you why. With my luck, they'd say: 'We've never seen this before in humans, only in lemurs.' Hopefully, for her sake and the LPGA's, Creamer will be back to full strength very soon.
 
Byeong-Hun An wins 109th U.S. Amateur

 
THE U.S. AM TO AN: Byeong Hun-An, a 17-year-old high school senior in Florida, defeated Clemson senior Ben Martin, 7 and 5, to become the youngest champion ever at the 109th U.S. Amateur. It's the second consecutive year that has happened. An is about a month and a half younger than Danny Lee was when he broke Tiger Woods’ record last year to become the youngest champion in an event which began in 1895.
 
Backspin An isn't just young; he's from South Korea – which isn't a bad thing. It just means that internationally-born players have won five of the last seven U.S. Amateur Championships. That's not a bad thing either, globally speaking. But when Americans stop winning American events, Americans tend to stop paying attention.
 
Peter Hedblom wins the Johnnie Walker

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Peter Hedblom won the Johnnie Walker Championship for his third career European Tour title. ... Loren Roberts birdied his final two holes to win the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour. ... Tiger Woods won the second annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge. ... Woods also joined the field for the HSBC Champions in China, which is now part of the World Golf Championships series.
 
Backspin Few champions opt for the Burt Reynolds '72 Cosmo pose after victory (You can Google that one on your own). ... Roberts beat Mark O'Meara by one to keep the two-time major champion winless on the senior circuit. ... The skins game, which also featured Begay, Mike Weir and Camilo Villegas, made $750,000 for Begay's foundation, which uses sports to promote physical fitness and wellness among Native American youth. ... The Champions field includes Woods, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, British Open champion Stewart Cink, PGA champion Y.E. Yang and defending champion Sergio Garcia.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage – The Barclays
  • Full Coverage – U.S. Amateur Championship
  • Full Coverage – Johnnie Walker Championship
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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.