Playing the Old White after a 59

By Scott WalkerAugust 3, 2010, 4:10 am
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – There was so much talk about how easy the Old White golf course played after we spent the week on 59 watch at the Greenbrier Classic ... then watched Stuart Appleby and his dramatic performance to shoot that magic score to win on Sunday.

A number of us who talk about golf for a living got the chance to play the course that Appleby & Co. lit up this week. We had the same pins, and played from the tips. As we discussed later, there has only been one previous opportunity to play a course where 59 was shot the day before on the PGA Tour.You learn quite a bit about the skill of a Tour player by doing that. Yes, the Old White course can be overpowered. I can carry the ball about 280 when I am really hitting it well. I didn't have to hit driver on most holes, but I did because attacking certain bunkers and blowing it over trouble was the best play. When you can carry the ball as far as Appleby or Jeff Overton, your caddie should break your 3-wood if you ever try to reach for it. It is no surprise that the two players at the top can play the long game with the best of them.

But, before you diminish Appleby's 59 because the scoring was so low and because the course is not long by modern standards, consider this: the architecture allowed that strategy.

So many times on the tee box at Old White, CB MacDonald told you exactly the best strategy to make birdie. Hit it over this bunker, and the hole opens up for you, he said through the design. But, if you miss, you will suffer the consequences.

The 12th hole is an eagle opportunity, but only if you hit it up the right side, where trees can knock down greedy tee ball out of bounds. On the 13th, you can drive it up the right side, but if you do you can't see the flagstick. And as you saw on the 18th hole, if you hit the wrong club on the finishing par 3, you will have the craziest putt of your life.

Length helps. Length puts wedges in your hands. But what we saw distinctly on Monday was that precision mattered from inside 100 yards. So many pins were three paces from a severe slope or a bunker that could turn birdie into bogey if your short game was not sharp.

What made the Old White such a pleasure to play was the fact that great reward was possible when a bold tee shot was matched with short game precision. Modern golf courses have a tendency to bludgeon a player with length as the defense. Swing as hard as you can, then do it again, and again, and again. This MacDonald/Raynor gem refurbished by Lester George takes a more surgical approach. The course invites you to overpower it if you can. But you had better be a wizard with the wedge to score. There is more than one way to play the course, based on your skill and nerve.

But you better have both.

Most pros do, which is why the scores were low. But only one of them shot a 59. Only one put a new tournament on the map with a putt on the 72nd hole that showed great confidence as well as great skill.

What can a truly classic golf course do? It can avoid the trap of trying to handcuff talented players. By allowing them to display their talents, those same players can put on a brilliant show.

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.