Players vying for national title at Golf Channel Am Tour

By Mike BaileySeptember 13, 2012, 1:14 am

Make no mistake: For the players contending at this week's Golf Channel Am Tour Championships, the stakes are high. For many of them, it's a rare opportunity to realize a dream.

And when they find themselves in contention after a couple of rounds, especially if they've never really been in that position before, the pressure really mounts. After all, no matter what level it is, it's a national championship, and no one can take that lightly.

Such was the case for the final group in the Hogan Flight down the stretch. Robert Simpkiss of Palmer, Mass., led by four strokes going into the third round on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass. He shot a 91 that included a 50 on the front nine, but didn't shoot himself out of the tournament. He's currently four shots behind the new leader, Steven Paul, who fired an 83 (242 total) in the same group.

'I felt more nervous than I ever have in my whole life,' said Simpkiss, who runs a telecommunications wiring company. 'I couldn't breathe the first eight holes, and I played like it.'

The third member of the group, Randall Ricker had a pretty good round going, including a back nine in which he was only 2 over par when disaster struck on the par-5 16th hole. From the middle of the fairway, trying to hit an easy layup, he hit the Lord Voldemort shot of golf (A Harry Potter reference: We dare not speak its name), also known as a hosel rocket.

It went right, but unfortunately for Ricker, an air conditioning contractor from Coral Springs, Fla., it didn't go into the water. Instead he found himself with an impossible lie on the bank, from where he wound up hitting it into the water and made 9.

Asked if he felt the pressure, Ricker said, 'Absolutely. All I had to do was hit a lousy layup.'

Of course, on the next hole, the infamous island green 17th, Ricker hit his tee shot to within a few feet to make birdie.

'There were no nerves on that hole,' said Ricker, who hung in with an 88 and is tied with Simpkiss in fourth place, 'not after what happened on 16.'

So we're left with Paul, a junior criminal justice major at Bridgewater State (Mass.) College, as the survivor. He felt the pressure, too, but apparently handled it better than anyone. He made a crucial 10-footer to save par on the 16th, then hit in the front right pot bunker on 17. Taking two to get out, Paul escaped with a double bogey.

'To be honest with you, I was more nervous about the tee shot,' he said. 'When I saw it make it to the bunker, I was relieved.'

As for the rest of the tournament, Paul Erdman (Erie, Colo.) and Charles Lyon (San Diego, Calif.) boasted rounds of 68 at the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships, recording the lowest score of the tournament after three rounds.  Lyon went from tied for 17th place to sixth on the leaderboard, while Erdman jumped four places to claim third place with one round to go.

Missoula, Mont., resident Brian Beach retained his top spot in the Championship Flight (handicap range 3.9 or lower) after at third-round score of 70 at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club’s Lagoon Course.  He extended his lead over Jeffrey Perkins (Glen Burnie, Md.) by one shot to lead the field by three.  Erdman’s low score of 68 put him in third place.

Also leading their respective flights after the third round are:  Michael Healey (Franklin, Tenn., Palmer Flight); Terron Gaines (Houston, Texas, Sarazen Flight); Rich Ramsey (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Jones Flight); and Scott Fjelstad (Trabuco Canyon, Calif., Snead Flight).

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 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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.