If WGC-Match Play seeding doesn't change ...

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 11, 2013, 6:49 pm

First, a disclaimer: The seeding for the 64-man WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is destined to change. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed, with 12 of the top 20 players in the world teeing it up this week at Riviera.

The field may be set (barring withdrawals), but the final bracket won’t be unveiled until next Sunday, when the Official World Golf Ranking is updated following the final round of the Northern Trust Open.

Still, it’s fun to forecast. And if the seeding stays the same – again, it won’t happen – here are a few intriguing first-round matchups. (Reminder: No. 10 Phil Mickelson has already announced he will not play. Also, click here for details on Golf Channel's Bracket Challenge)

No. 1 Rory McIlroy vs. No. 65 Shane Lowry

Yes, the two are good friends, but McIlroy should be more motivated than ever. After a dismal performance in Abu Dhabi, and in only his second start with new Nike equipment, McIlroy needs as many competitive reps as he can get in Tucson. Lowry won the Portugal Masters in December, but he’s missed the cut in three of his last four starts. Rory should at least make it to Thursday. We think.

No. 2 Tiger Woods vs. No. 64 Charles Howell III

This could change if CH3 has a good week at Riviera, but selfishly, golf fans should hope this match comes to fruition. Tiger has made only one PGA Tour start this season, and it was a dominating performance at Torrey Pines. Howell, however, played his way into the Match Play field on the strength of three top-10s in four starts. Few players have the firepower to hang with Tiger in Round 1. Howell is one of them.

No. 11 Ian Poulter vs. No. 56 Russell Henley 

Little wonder Phil Mickelson didn’t want to tee it up at the Match Play – he would have drawn the Sony Open winner in the first round! Next in line is Poulter, the match-play maven, who is making only his second start this season and first since the opener in Hawaii. Poults has been fine-tuning new equipment during the “offseason,” and he’ll need to be sharp to take down Henley, who has already established himself as one of the premier putters on Tour. 

No. 12 Jason Dufner vs. No. 55 Richard Sterne

Duf could have his hands full with Sterne, who earned his way into the field with a Joburg Open victory and is one of the hottest golfers on the planet. In his past three starts, the South African has gone seventh-second-first. Coming off his first missed cut in 22 starts, Dufner can’t take his Round 1 opponent lightly.

No. 19 Graeme McDowell vs. No. 48 Padraig Harrington 

Another tough draw for the higher seed, especially for a guy like G-Mac, who is making his season debut this week at Riviera. Before missing the cut at Pebble Beach, Paddy hadn’t finished worse than 23rd in his past four starts worldwide, with three top-10s. Upset alert.

No. 24 Ernie Els vs. No. 43 Jason Day

This is a simple case of who’s hot and who’s not. The Big Easy has only one top-10 in 14 starts since winning the Open, while the 25-year-old Australian has a pair of top-10s in three starts this season. A win here by the higher-seeded Els would be the upset, no?

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.

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.