Efficiency and Controversy

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 15, 2009, 4:00 am
Greg Norman and Fred Couples

BEING PICKED ON: Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples announced their wildcard selections last week. U.S. captain Couples picked Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover, while International captain Norman went with Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and fellow Aussie Adam Scott.
Backspin Couples had long said that Mahan and Glover were his men, which means only Steve Stricker was happier to see Scott Verplank fail to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. Norman, however, never tipped his hand. Many saw Ishikawa as an option, if only because no one else really stood out and he does have five wins this year on the Japanese Tour - plus broad international appeal. Scott, though, was a major surprise since he's had such a horrible season. Norman's picks further showcased the Presidents Cup as entertainment over serious competition.
Rory Sabbatini

MOUTH RUNS EFFICIENTLY: Rory Sabbatini took exception to Greg Norman's Presidents Cup captain's selections, or at least over the fact that he failed to receive a courtesy call to say he would not be chosen. Sabbatini voiced his displeasure to the media after shooting 5-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the BMW Championship. He then shot 70-72-74 to tie for 18th.
Backspin Sabbatini is a very talented player, unfortunately he tends to go blah, blah, blah, then we go pffft, and he goes thppp. He had reason to be upset that he wasn't selected or didn't get a phone call or whatever, but, as is usually the case, he failed to handle the situation appropriately. Good thing he doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
Tiger Woods

MY HOUSE(S): Tiger Woods won the BMW Championship by eight strokes. Woods was aided greatly by a course-record 9-under 62 Saturday, which gave him a seven-shot advantage entering the final round. The victory was Woods' sixth of the season and first of the '09 playoffs. He regained the No. 1 spot on the FedEx Cup points standings with one event, the Tour Championship, remaining.
Backspin Woods has re-established his dominance on his favorite tracks. He won at Bay Hill [victory No. 6 on that course], Muirfield Village [No. 4], Firestone [No. 7] and now Cog Hill [No. 5]. Surprisingly, it's the first time in his career that he's won on all four courses in the same year. The only other regular PGA Tour venue he likes as much or more than these is Torrey Pines, and he was sidelined for this year's Buick Invitational. Nick Watney thanks him for that.

Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods

30 ROCK: The BMW pared the FedEx Cup playoffs down to the final 30 participants. These 30 will have their points restructured, meaning anyone who is currently inside the top five still has a chance to win the $10 million bonus with a victory at the Tour Championship.
Backspin The top five are, in order: Tiger Woods, Stever Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum. Among those failing to qualify fo the Tour Championship include: Ian Poulter (No. 31), Rory Sabbatini (34), Anthony Kim (35), Sergio Garcia (38), defending champion Camilo Villegas (42), and Davis Love III (51).
Arnold Palmer

80 ROCK: Arnold Palmer celebrated his 80th birthday Thursday Sept. 10, the same day the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children marked its 20th anniversary. Palmer spent the week leading up to his birthday being honored at the hospital, attending a few celebratory dinners and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game.
Backspin You have to travel far and wide to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Palmer [assuming you don't talk to Ken Venturi]. Eighty years. That's 29,220 days, including leap years. And we wish him many, many more.

Jiyai Shin and Angela Stanford

JI, I'M GOOD: Ji Yai Shin won the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship in a playoff over Angela Stanford and Sun Young Yoo. The win was Shin's third of the season. She took over the No. 1 spot on the money list, the No. 1 spot on the Player of the Year ranking and the No. 1 spot on the Rookie of the Year ranking.
Backspin Congratulations to Shin, but it was a bummer to see Stanford lose. She got off to a great start this season but then struggled upon learning that her mother, Nan, had breast cancer. Since the Solheim Cup, however, she has gone T-8, T-2, T-2. Her mom was on hand this week and was able to witness Angela eagle the par-5 18th to join the three-way playoff. Shin proved to be too much, though, as she was the only player to birdie the second extra hole.

Lorena Ochoa

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR US LATELY?: Lorena Ochoa was met with some critical questions during a trip last week to her native Mexico while promoting a charity event. Local media queried Ochoa on her lack of wins this season (two) and the dramatic decrease in her lead atop of the world golf rankings. Ochoa was defensive in her remarks, saying 'I’m not going to answer any questions about my results.'

Backspin Americans can't imagine the scrutiny that successful foreign players endure. They're not just sports figures, they're national icons. The hopes of a country are saddled on their shoulders. As Ochoa or someone like Ai Miyazato can tell you, this is not hyperbole. Their success is their homeland's success. It is understandable to wonder why Ochoa is not producing the results she has in the last few years. It is not, however, acceptable to be disappointed in her for one less-than-stellar season.

Sandra Gal

BODY OF WORK: Sandra Gal made some news both on and off the course this past week. First, it was announced that she, Christina Kim and Anna Grzebien were going to appear semi-nude in the Oct. 19 'Bodies' edition of 'ESPN The Magazine.' Gal then opened in 7-under 64 to lead after the first round of the P&G event.
Backspin Gal closed in 76-70 to tie for 15th. Kim finished T-54, while Grzebien was T-65. People will debate whether or not this kind of exposure [pun intended] is good for the tour. It is. The LPGA needs publicity surrounding its players, not involving its commissioner, its sponsors or its schedule. It doesn't have the luxury of marketing players based solely on their performances; it needs other avenues. And sexuality promotes well. It should be noted, however, that the decision to pose for the magazine was made by the individuals, not the tour. And it's up to the players, more so than the tour, to prove there is substance behind the style.
U.S. Walker Cup team

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Americans defeated Great Britain and Ireland, 16 1/2 - 9 1/2, in the 42nd Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club. ... Josh Teater won for the first time on the Nationwide Tour at the Utah Championship. ... James Kingston defeated Anders Hansen in a playoff to win the European Tour's Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Backspin That's three wins in a row for the Yanks, who have a 34-7-1 record in the event. It might be time to invite continental Europe into the fray. ... Teater earned $99K and moved from 21st to eighth on the money list. ... Kingston's opening round of 5-under 67 included an eagle and a triple bogey.
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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.