Best player on Tour without a title

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 25, 2010, 11:12 pm
Who is the best player on the PGA Tour without a victory? In this edition of Punch Shots, GolfChannel.com senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell weigh in with their opinions.

By REX HOGGARD

Ted Williams once said the hardest thing in all of sports is to hit a round ball with a round bat, but then the famed slugger never had to sleep on a 54-hole lead. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson & Co. make winning on the PGA Tour look easy, but the truth is closing the deal on a Sunday is hard like quantum physics.

Just ask Tim Clark or Brett Quigley, the two highest ranked active players on the career money list (Nos. 60 and 87, respectively) without a Tour bottle cap. Combined, the two have 559 starts and not a single Sunday keepsake. But the South African, with seven also-rans on his resume, is atop the “Best Player without a Tour title” list.

Based on current form, however, to say nothing of the often-confusing World Ranking, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter are the two most likely to break the seal.

Poulter has improved statistically every year since joining the circuit in 2005 and has the confidence to survive any Sunday second-guessing, while McIlroy has already proven he can win (’09 Dubai Desert Classic) and compete in the United States (7 top 25s in 12 starts).

Neither, however, can hit a major league fastball.
By RANDALL MELL

The head and heart are at odds on this one.

The head says Ian Poulter, the heart Tim Clark.

Poulter, 34, seems to possess more potential when he puts it all together than Clark. He’s ranked substantially higher than Clark (No. 11 to No. 39) in the world rankings. He has won a lot more internationally than Clark (Eight European Tour titles to Clark’s three), but he plays more in Europe.

The heart likes Clark because of the 34-year-old South African’s gritty nature. So often, when we think a golf course is set up to benefit power players, Clark is the short-hitting contrarian who gets himself in the hunt. He showed us the nature of the fight in him knocking off Tiger Woods in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship last year. He has shown it in his seven career second-place PGA Tour finishes. He’s shown it finishing second at the ’06 Masters, in tying for third at the ’05 U.S. Open and in his third-place finish at the ’03 PGA Championship.

The heart wins. Clark’s knocking on the door more often in the events that matter most. His nature tells us he won’t stop knocking until the door opens.

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.

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.