Most clutch performances in 2011

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2011, 4:18 pm

Every great golf season is defined by clutch performances. They're the performances that win major championships, capture Cups and claim money titles. They're the feats you'll always remember - for the most part. GolfChannel.com senior writers offer up their most clutch performances of the year.

Rory McIlroy

By REX HOGGARD

Most clutch in 2011? Easy, Rory McIlroy, end of list.

With due respect to all others, the European Solheim Cup team immediately comes to mind, the Ulsterman played in his own division in 2011. A U.S. Open victory is good stuff, but McIlroy distanced himself from the rest of the pack based on the degree of difficulty of his singular achievement.

Four starts removed from what could be for others a career-crushing loss at the Masters, McIlroy rebounded with rounds of 65-66-68-69 to lap the field by eight strokes at Congressional.

Graeme McDowell said there wasn't even going to be an under-par round this week or anybody finishing under par. Rory, I don't even know what he is,” Robert Garrigus said.

McIlroy’s closing 80 at Augusta National, an adventurous round that exposed weaknesses in his game that never surfaced at Congressional, only serves to point out how clutch the 22-year-old was at the U.S. Open.

From the ashes of Augusta National McIlroy singlehandedly rewrote the U.S. Open record book, shattering the 72-hole scoring record by four strokes, the relation-to-par scoring record and becoming the youngest to win the Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.

Clutch by any definition.


Charl Schwartzel

By RANDALL MELL

Charl Schwartzel delivered far more than the most clutch performance in golf this year.

He delivered one of the best finishes under pressure we’ve ever seen.

Making birdie at the 72nd hole to win a major championship is impressive, but birdies at the 69th, 70th, 71st and 72nd holes to win the Masters gives deeper meaning to the definition of clutch.

Schwartzel trumped anything Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan or Tiger Woods ever did to close out a major. He did what none of them ever did in winning with four closing birdies.

Luke Donald's Sunday rally to win at Disney and clinch the PGA Tour money title was gritty. Yes, Bill Haas was impressive late this summer with his escape from the water to win the FedEx Cup. Keegan Bradley was terrific under pressure coming from five shots down with three holes to play to win the PGA Championship in his first appearance in a major. Steve Stricker’s closing birdie to win the John Deere Classic made you shake your head in wonder. The European Solheim Cup team’s late turnaround to win will go down as one of the best finishes to an international team event, but nobody topped what Schwartzel did to earn a green jacket this year.

With the pressure ratcheted up on that Masters’ Sunday, with eight different players holding or sharing the final-round lead, with five players holding the lead at the same time, Schwartzel separated himself in historic fashion. 


Richard H. Lee

By JASON SOBEL

Maybe I’ve just got a short-term memory, but my clutch performance of the year came just last week courtesy Richard H. Lee’s at PGA Tour Q-School.

The former All-America selection from the University of Washington was well off the number to qualify for a 2012 card following a 6-over 78 in the fourth round. He bounced back with a 65 the next day, but still found himself off the pace. In fact, with only five holes left to play in the final round, he was four strokes off the magic number, his fate apparently sealed with a trip to the Nationwide Tour.

That’s when Lee turned into Mr. Clutch.

Finishing on the front nine of the PGA West Stadium Course, he closed eagle-birdie-par-birdie-birdie to claim his playing privileges in the big leagues with a shot to spare.

Q-School lore is filled with hard-to-believe stories of success and failure. Lee’s tale ranks up there with the best of ‘em.

There’s no perfect way to compare the clutch performance of Lee against, say, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and his four closing birdies, but think about it this way: If Schwartzel lost, he still had a job. We can’t say the same for Lee.

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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.