Barnes burning for his first Tour victory

By Jason SobelJune 3, 2011, 6:00 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – As each competitor at this week’s Memorial Tournament strolls up the dastardly finishing hole, he is serenaded by a public address announcer reciting a resume of career accomplishments.

Or maybe they are career goals.

That’s because when Ricky Barnes made that jaunt to the final green just before noon on Friday, his name prominently affixed to the nearby leaderboard, the awaiting gallery was told, “… he has one PGA Tour win …”

Actually, he has one fewer than one.

In the announcing business, we call this an unforced error. In the prognostication business, though, it may simply be construed as foreshadowing.

“Maybe they're foreseeing something this week,” Barnes later said with a laugh. “I'm hoping.”

While the golf world awaits the initial professional victory for Rickie, it may indeed be Ricky who breaks through first. Following last year’s T-3 result here at Muirfield Village, the latter has opened with scores of 68-70 to enter the weekend very much in contention yet again.

“Yeah, I'd love to get it,” Barnes said of the elusive first title. “I was pretty good early on in the year, keeping myself calm once I got into that position at Honda and Hilton Head. I was making some good swings, unlucky bounce on a few holes there. But I'm feeling more mature on the golf course and a little more at ease once I get into that position.”

Maturity is a running subplot in the Barnes storyline. No longer is he the teen heartthrob who first hit the scene with a T-21 finish at the 2003 Masters. Now 30, he got married in October and the couple is expecting their first child in August.

He is now nine years removed from winning the U.S. Amateur, eight years past earning that low amateur status at The Masters and three years from developmental tour purgatory, the last of which kept him in its grasp for a half-decade before he finished 25th on the 2008 money list to earn the final PGA Tour card that season.

Since then, Barnes has built a reputation as a steadily improving player, ascending from 120th on the money list as a rookie to 43rd last season. He often sees his greatest successes on difficult golf courses, finishing in a share of second place at the 2009 U.S. Open, T-10 at last year’s Masters and already with a pair of fourth-place results at tough venues this season.

And, of course, Jack’s place certainly qualifies, too.

“I've always liked a course [where] par is your friend,” he explained. “You're making pars even on what some people call easy holes. You're not losing shots much to the field. Even out here, you chip away a lot of pars and grind the round out and steal a few birdies. And that's kind of what I did to get myself back into the round.”

Barnes didn’t let early bogeys on two of the first three holes characterize his round, nor was it defined by his eagle and four birdies, either. Instead, it was a pair of gutsy par-saving efforts on the final two holes – a 17-footer on No. 17 and an 8-footer on 18 – which kept him battling for the top position.

Those are the types of Friday putts that lead to Sunday victories.

Ask those close to him and they’ll maintain that Barnes’ maiden voyage to the winner’s circle is on the impending horizon.

“I really think he’s a player who is definitely capable of a couple of wins a year, definitely a top-50 player in the world, no doubt,” said caddie Ray Farnell, who has been on the bag for close to two years. “All parts of his game are really good. It’s just a matter of biding your time. Everyone waits for that win, but you can’t just go get it. You sort of have to work hard and grind away at it. He’s still young, he’s still maturing and he’s got it all ahead of him.”

His career arc parallels that of Matt Kuchar, a can’t miss-kid who – for so many years – missed. The winner of the U.S. Amateur two years prior to Barnes, Kuchar struggled to fulfill his potential until having it all come together two years ago.

If the analogy continues, that may mean Barnes will soon reach his destiny, too.

“I'd like to get to that point in my career,” Barnes said. “Am I there yet? No, but like I said, I keep putting myself into positions.”

He’s in position to win once again this week. If he can claim the title, well, that announcer on the 18th hole will be proven as a soothsayer.

“Yeah, I think it will be nicer when he says I have a Tour victory,” Barnes joked, “and that it's true.”

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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.