Punch Shot: Most likely to win Masters (not named Tiger)

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 10, 2013, 7:43 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods is the favorite to win the 77th Masters Tournament. But who is most likely to prevail – non-Tiger division? GolfChannel.com writers take Woods out of the equation and offer up another pick to win this week at Augusta National.

By RANDALL MELL

If I can’t take Tiger Woods, give me Ian Poulter.

Tiger had his fist pump in his big moments; Poulter has those intense, saucer-sized eyes. If Poulter can somehow summon the spirit that possesses him during the Ryder Cup, we just might see how those eyes go with a green jacket. Poulter was such an indomitable force in Europe’s historic comeback in last summer’s Ryder Cup triumph at Medinah. There’s no reason he can’t get in that kind of zone at Augusta National, where putting seems to matter more, and where Poulter feels confident about his chances. 

There have been flashes pointing to something bigger here for Poulter. There was his seventh-place finish in last year’s Masters. There was his taking the second-round lead in 2010 before falling away to a T-10 finish. There is a growing sense of his comfort here.


By JAY COFFIN

My inclination is to take Phil Mickelson, but I’m just not convinced that his putting is in good enough shape. It’s true that he knows these Augusta National greens as well as anyone, and that could pull him out of his funk, but I’ll go in a different direction.

For some reason, I like a dude who has only played here once (tied for 27th place), yet still has a major championship on his resume: Keegan Bradley.

Bradley just looks the part of a Masters champion. Take that Ryder Cup swagger that we saw last year at Medinah and throw it onto the back nine late on Sunday, add in a splash of roars, and it’s an environment in which Bradley could thrive.

You also have to think that he’s learned a lot from Mickelson over the past two years. The two have played numerous practice rounds at Augusta National and Bradley has soaked up course knowledge from Phil like a sponge.

Mickelson may contend but won’t win. Since we can’t pick Tiger Woods, we’ll take Bradley, Mickelson’s protégé.


By REX HOGGARD

Some say officials “Tiger proofed” Augusta National in the early 2000s, extending tees and adding more than 500 yards over the decade. We contend the powers that be simply made the course “Phil friendly.”

Since the tinkering began in 2002, Phil Mickelson has won all three of his green jackets, finished outside the top 10 just twice and been a part of the Sunday conversation on all but three occasions.

As Mickelson recently said, the place energizes him, regardless of form.

In some ways the venerable Georgia layout provides a kind of competitive amnesia. It’s a refuge to shield himself from inconsistent play – like this season’s eight-start, two top-10 effort – and inexplicable miscues – like the solace that came with the reality that despite his U.S. Open meltdown in 2006 he had won the tournament that matters the most earlier that year (Masters).

Even Mickelson’s penchant to overthink things seems mitigated at the Masters. That he won the ’06 tournament with two drivers in his bag helps soften the blow that he will play with no driver in the bag this week – at least not technically.

Mickelson is going with a driver hybrid, or glorified 2-wood, this week, but given his record around the former fruit nursery we would pick Lefty to win this week at Augusta National if he was kicking it around with a soup can tied to a stick.

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.

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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.