Mickelson surges to 36-hole lead at Quail Hollow

By Will GrayMay 3, 2013, 10:40 pm

Faced with another day of calm conditions and questionable greens, several players were able to tame Quail Hollow Club as low scores came from both the morning and afternoon waves. Here's how things shape up heading into the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship, where Phil Mickelson has ridden a hot putter to the top of the leaderboard:

The leaderboard: Phil Mickelson (-9), Scott Gardiner (-7), Nick Watney (-7), George McNeill (-7), Rory McIlroy (-6), Lee Westwood (-6)

What it means: Though the greens at Quail Hollow have proved too difficult to master for several players already this week, Mickelson has had no trouble from short distance, making each of the 31 putts he's faced from 10 feet and in during the first two rounds. Bolstered by his trademark short game that was firing on all cylinders Friday, Lefty now finds himself staked to a two-shot lead in an event where he has had many close calls before.

Round of the day: Mickelson began Friday's round with birdies on each of his first two holes, then birdied both Nos. 7 and 9 en route to an outward 32. After a bogey on the 12th hole, the four-time major champ used expertly executed pitch shots to secure birdies on both 14 and 15 before securing his round of 5-under 67 by successfully navigating the 'Green Mile' in even par.

Best of the rest: Having missed eight consecutive cuts entering the week, Gardiner was on few if any lists of possible contenders before play began. He surprised with a 5-under 67 Friday, though, matching Mickelson for low round of the day honors and breaking 70 for the first time since the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The Aussie failed to make a bogey during his second round, and was spurred to an outward 31 by four straight birdies on holes 6-9.

Biggest disappointment: While Mickelson was able to conquer the spotty greens Friday, Bubba Watson had no such luck. The former Masters champ began with a three-putt from 11 feet on the 10th hole, then four-putted the 12th hole and added another three-putt from inside 13 feet on the 15th hole. It all added up to a 4-over 76 for the southpaw, and Watson missed just his second cut of the 2013 season.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: A runner up here in 2010 and having tied for third at Quail Hollow in 2007, is this the year that Mickelson finally dons the blue jacket? His precision on and around the greens thus far has allowed him to gain several strokes on the field through two rounds, but several top-ranked players are lurking just a few shots back, including McIlroy and Westwood.

Shot of the day: Though he won't be around to play the weekend, Bill Haas exited the 18th hole in style Friday to finish off his second-round 70. Haas was long and left of the green, on the wrong side of a creek lining the putting surface and up against some rocks. His pitch from the hazard cleared both the rocks and the hazard, though, before tumbling into the hole for an unexpected birdie. Though the shot was memorable, the Wake Forest grad missed the cut, as his 7-over 79 Thursday was too much to overcome.

Quote of the day: 'I think tee-to-green it's one of the best we have, one of the best I've ever seen in the game...I've had great finishes here, but I haven't capped it off. It would mean a lot to win.' – Mickelson, who has been inside the top 10 six of the past nine years at Quail Hollow.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.