Hooks and Cuts: Tiger and Phil

By Rich LernerFebruary 14, 2012, 6:32 pm

If Sunday at Pebble Beach were a basketball game, Phil Mickelson was Blake Griffin. He absolutely hammered Tiger Woods with a full facial, see-it-20-times-on-the-highlights slam dunk.    

• After his third round, I interviewed Phil for a simple story on what he loves about the game, and here’s what he said: “I love the 16th hole at Cypress Point because of the way it brings nature and golf together. I love the 13th tee at Augusta because it’s quiet and secluded and it gives you a moment to gather your thoughts before you play the critical six-hole stretch that hopefully leads to a green jacket. I love everything about the game of golf. I love the serenity it gives me, the work ethic it promotes. I love growing up on the golf course, the friendships that are made, the mental and physical challenges, I love everything about it.”  As he waited to hit his third shot to 18 on Sunday, the CBS cameras zoomed tight on Phil with a satisfied smile, staring at the Pacific – it was the picture of a man very much in love with golf. Shooting 64 at Pebble will make a man fall head over heels.

• It was nice to put parity aside for a week and lock in on two huge stars. It would be nice if we could get the best together more than a half-dozen times a year.

• After his third round, I asked Tiger what he loves about the game, and here’s what he said: “I love to learn. I love to compete. I love to win.”  

• Phil, Luke Donald and Adam Scott headline at Riviera this week with a new second tee and re-done fifth green. Rivi’s listening to the U.S. Golf Association in the run-up to a potential 2017 U.S. Amateur, hoping to land a U.S. Open in 2021 or ’22. There’s even talk of a water feature at the eighth. As for the issue of the tiny driving range, one plan is to shuttle players from Brentwood Country Club’s practice area five minutes away. Parking and tepid support from L.A. sports fans are other obstacles to a future Open.

• Tiger was on Forbes’ list of most disliked athletes. Based on the huge crowds that followed him every day at Pebble, and everywhere he plays for that matter, seems to me he’s hated like cheeseburgers.

• Butch told me during the Waste Management event in Scottsdale that he just wanted Phil “to not swing out of his shoes,” to dial it back. Sunday at Pebble, Phil’s feet were definitely on the ground. Controlling his driver and putting with supreme confidence, he delivered a breathtaking performance that truly reinforced his standing as an all-time great. 

• On the subject of feet, Tiger’s shoes may be comfortable, but they look like the walking shoes worn by an old-timer I once knew by the name of Mortie Waxman. He sold carpeting and carried a 25 handicap.

• Phil’s haymaker at 12, on top of Tiger’s bunker blast, is an early front-runner for putt of the year. Since Y.E. Yang, guys actually punch back now. It’s shaken Tiger a bit.

• Every time Tiger plays feels like a heavyweight fight that totally consumes the week with pre-tournament analysis and press conferences, followed by five hours of play for four days with another hour in front and another behind the round. This has been going on for 15 years and will for another 20. When it’s done he will have given us this 30-to-40-year experience. That’s more than Michael Jordan, more than Muhammad Ali. It’s more like a New York Yankee’s experience where for most of your adult life you follow the team, rooting for or against them. Tiger never stops being an icon, a controversial figure and a measuring stick. This latest setback is only a page in a 40-year book.

• Riviera is great in part because of the iconic holes like No. 4 – which Ben Hogan called the best par 3 in America – and No. 10, arguably the best short par 4. The course is awesome because of where it sits, down in a bowl, with the city above and no activity from the time you tee off No. 1 until you walk the hill above 18. It’s significant because of the majors won and lost there, and because of the cool trees that frame the course.

• Winning’s tough, for Kyle Stanley, for Spencer Levin, for Charlie Wi, and now, for Tiger Woods. He’s close to winning, but far from where he once was.

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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.