Punch Shot: Bring back the Skins Game?

The Skins Game was a staple on the fall golf schedule for the better part of three decades, but after 2008 the event was dropped. Is it silly that this former silly season event is no more, or should we petition to bring it back? GolfChannel.com writers debate. (Click here for Skins Game gallery)

By RYAN LAVNER

Yes, but not as the version that appeared on TV each fall for 25 years.

Money won’t entice any of the competitors, not in this era of FedEx Cup cash. The total prize money for the event used to be $1 million. That’s pocket change to these guys – less than what they could get for playing in, say, the John Deere or Mayakoba event. Even the purse at the Shark Shootout tops $3 million.

But the Skins Game could work, once again, as a kind of Tavistock Cup (R.I.P.) spinoff, only without the helicopter entrances and snooty spectators. 

My proposal is for a pair of two-man teams from different parts of the country squaring off against each other in the skins format: SoCal vs. SoFla, Texans vs. Sea Islanders, Las Vegans vs. Arizonans, Ponte Vedrans vs. Orlandoans. Add elements of a home-course advantage. All money donated to a charity of their choice.

A perfect idea? Maybe not. But it’s a better option than no golf in the U.S. on Thanksgiving weekend.


 By JASON SOBEL

No.

I used to enjoy watching the Skins Game as much as the next guy – but I wouldn’t be in favor of bringing it back.

Nothing against the informal nature of the tournament or its format or structure, but it was previously contested during what was widely known as golf’s silly season.

Well, guess what? There’s nothing silly about this time of year anymore.

With the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai extending the seasons on their respective tours, followed almost immediately by the start of the next campaign, golf has become a 52-week-a-year endeavor with little time for such frivolities that don’t come armed with world ranking points and official money. Throw in a month of serious competition in Australia and Tiger Woods’ World Challenge and the dance card starts filling up quicker than that of Kate Upton at an all-boys school.

What it means is that elite players need to take their breaks when they can get ‘em. Unless you can guarantee me a foursome of one-named superstars like Tiger, Phil, Adam and Rory in an updated Skins Game, I’d rather not run the risk of so many invitations being denied that it features a watered-down version of its previous self with a quartet of third-tier professionals.

The Skins Game was great for what it was, when it was. The golf world has evolved since those days, though, and quite honestly the schedule doesn’t have room anymore for anything too silly.


By RANDALL MELL

No. Let the Skins Game rest in peace.

There is no way to re-create the wonder the original silly season concept possessed. There is so much money, so many monster purses, so many more big events in the game today than there were when the Skins Game was at the height of its popularity in the '80s and '90s. Back then, a $1 million payday was exciting stuff. So was the idea of seeing the game's biggest stars in the offseason. With the World Golf Championships, the FedEx Cup, the Race to Dubai and Tiger's December All-Star Game, there is hardly a month we don't get to see the game's biggest stars.

I suppose there would be intrigue if players were playing for their own money, the way the rest of us do when we play for skins, but that's never going to happen. The Skins Game is never going to regain its original appeal.


By WILL GRAY

No. Perhaps I wasn’t tuning in when the event was at its peak popularity, but I don’t miss the Skins Game and would be in no rush to spark its return.

In the early 1980s, I can understand how a televised exhibition like the Skins Game would be an interesting novelty. Fast forward 30 years, though, and players have no shortage of opportunities to play for unofficial cash, while viewers are not exactly hurting for chances to see their favorite players in action. The evolution of the tournament’s field – from Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus taking the first two titles to Stephen Ames and K.J. Choi claiming the last two – speaks volumes to the event’s gradually declining demand.

Add in the increased options for televised sports around the Thanksgiving holiday, and the hole once occupied by the Skins Game on a viewer’s “plate” has been more than filled. With the advent of the PGA Tour’s wraparound schedule and the increased number of playing opportunities in the winter months, the golf offseason is now measured in weeks, not months. Adding to the schedule at this time of year, even for a four-person cash grab, just doesn’t seem warranted.

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Cabrera and son 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.