Finchem and Woods have media face off

By Jason SobelMay 29, 2012, 10:17 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – At promptly 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sat down at the dais in the Muirfield Village Golf Club interview room and announced one of golf’s worst-kept secrets. Within minutes, Fred Couples and Nick Price were introduced as the newest Presidents Cup captains, joining Finchem in the news conference as they were peppered with questions about next year’s competition at this very venue.

A half-hour later, the two captains were still spinning yarns and dropping hints; Price spoke about the time he angrily broke a putter in front of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, while Couples let slip that he will likely be an assistant to old buddy Davis Love III at this year’s Ryder Cup.

Meanwhile, some 2,100 miles across the country, Tiger Woods had convened on a reddish-orange couch in a lounge at The Olympic Club, site of next month’s U.S. Open and host to his practice round earlier in the day. He glared into a computer screen, not to watch the captains’ news conference, but to host a Google Plus “hangout” during which he answered questions from fans.

Video: Google ... Plus Tiger

For nearly 15 minutes, the two events coincided – a confluence of old media standard and new media strategy, staring each other down from 10 paces with pistols drawn.

Throughout his professional career, Woods has often separated himself from the masses with his on-course performance. In this particular instance, he was separated by distance and content, a voluntary isolation that could serve as a career-long metaphor.

It wasn’t that the timing of his “hangout” was especially wrong; it was just … awkward.

Even Finchem, never one to heap criticism upon the Tour’s biggest moneymaker, was left stretching to explain how the overlap of the two public performances made sense.

“We’d like for our top, star players to coordinate things with what’s going on,” the commissioner said privately afterward. “I don’t know to what extent it was a problem, though.”

Perhaps muddying that image was the fact that the Tour’s own website and Twitter feed were promoting the conflicting events, allowing interested observers an opportunity to choose between the two mediums.

Before posting something to your own website or Twitter feed taking offense to any offense taken, understand that any confusion here is more about the timing of the two events rather than Woods’ decision to forgo traditional media or the actual execution of his live chat.

The truth is, it was abundantly more palatable than the recent 14-minute video that featured Woods alone, answering questions in what appeared more hostage video than “hangout.” With journalist Mark Soltau serving as moderator and television commentator Roger Maltbie proffering a few queries, the production value was greatly enhanced from its previous version.

Though the page’s comments section was riddled with an amalgamation of posts that ranged from the old standby “you da man” to the new adaptation “Tiger! Follow me on Twitter!” to the banal “fire foley” in addition to plenty of lewd comments, his message came across loud and clear. Woods wants to interact more directly with the fans – and if that means cutting out the middle man of traditional media, well, then so be it.

“Absolutely, I’m going to do this more often in the future,” Woods stated near the end of the chat. “It’s fantastic for us to be able to reach out to fans. … We want to let them ask questions and let them feel like they’re part of the process as well.”

Meanwhile, the news conference continued in Ohio with nary a mention of Tiger’s name until the very end – and only circumstantially. It left the “hangout” with the same feeling as if MTV had announced its music award nominees during the very same time that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was having its induction ceremony.

Granted, only Couples perfectly fits the rock star analogy, but the simultaneous nature of the two performances certainly struck the wrong chord.

It may have struck a bigger one if other principal figures were briefed on the overlapping scenarios.

“I don’t know anything about the timing,” Finchem said. “As far as doing it, you know, we’ve got a lot of players doing it. It’s just that he’s Tiger Woods, so if he does it, everybody’s eyes are on him. It doesn’t bother me. People like that stuff today. I’m not versed in the content they went over today or anything like that or whether he made any announcements, but just in terms of the overall structure of the way to reach fans, on the surface at least, I don’t think it’s much different from Stewart Cink being on Twitter all the time.”

There’s nothing wrong with the PGA Tour holding a news conference to announce the upcoming Presidents Cup captains, even if they were hardly a surprise. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with Woods holding an online chat to interact with his fans. The confluence of events which saw them coincide with each other on Tuesday, though – the game’s most popular player potentially upstaging an important announcement – could have shown better timing without robbing anyone of either message.

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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 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.