The Jersey sore

By Jason SobelAugust 24, 2011, 10:48 pm

EDISON, N.J. – The world’s greatest professional golfers are welcomed to tournaments each week in many resplendent ways. Luxurious gifts. Courtesy cars. Gourmet meals.

Not that each of those isn’t in abundance at this week’s Barclays event, but this is New Jersey – or “Joisey,” as the locals say – a place with more than a little attitude to go with its servitude.

John Rollins got a taste of it while driving to Plainfield Country Club on Wednesday morning with his wife and young daughter in advance of a practice round.

“It was where the two lanes merge into one lane,” he recalled shortly thereafter. “I saw that the lane was getting ready to merge in, so I slowed down and let the guy pass. I guess he thought I was driving recklessly or being crazy or something. You could see him just throw his arms in the air.

“When I merged right back in, within 100 feet he pulled his car off to the shoulder. His window is down and as I’m passing by, I’m barely even looking at him, but my wife looks over and he’s got his hand out of the window flipping us off. He stopped his car just to do that, then he just kept on going.”

Hey, this is Jersey. It’s where people don’t back down to anyone and don’t mind making their feelings known. Got a problem with that?

Actually, some players do. While many maintain the proximity to New York City and the delectable Italian food are their highest regarded parts of the Garden State, others aren’t so impressed by their surroundings. Asked his favorite thing about being in this state, Kris Blanks said, “I only have to be here for a week.”

That sounds tame compared with a player who went on an f-bomb tirade, but would not go on the record with his name. Gee, wonder why he asked to have his name withheld?

This is where Sinatra first crooned, Springsteen belted and Bon Jovi harmonized. It’s where Jimmy Hoffa may or may not be buried, where a fictional Tony Soprano had his enemies whacked. It’s where everything is within arm’s reach of a mall or 24-hour diner. And it’s where Snooki and The Situation became famous for, well, just for living here.

Of course, for one week each year, the acronym “GTL” instead stands for “Golf, Tan, Laundry,” as the PGA Tour’s top 125 players descend upon New Jersey for the annual tournament to kick off the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Not to bury the lead, but while the state is known for world-class musicians, TV mobsters and “Jersey Shore” reality show stars, it’s also a haven for some of the country’s best golf courses.

This state owns five courses on Golf Digest’s current Top-100 list, including Pine Valley (No. 2), Baltusrol (32), Galloway National (91), Somerset Hills (93) and this week’s venue, as Plainfield checks in at 73rd prior to hosting a PGA Tour event for the very first time.

“I couldn't think of a better spot to play,” Phil Mickelson said. “Plainfield to me is what I consider really a great golf course. It's playable for the average player while still creating challenge for the good players to score low. I think that the setup is terrific and we are going to have a great week.”

Lefty’s contention aside, opinions are already varying on whether Plainfield has what it takes to produce a big-time finish without taking any missteps. At just 6,964 yards, it ranks as one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour schedule and the word most players have used to describe it is “quirky.”

That’s an appropriate assessment considering the fourth, ninth and 18th holes are each reachable par-4s, depending on wind conditions.

“I think that's fun to have on a golf course and it's fun to have some drivable ones, but I think the drivable ones ought to have some risk/reward,” Matt Kuchar explained. “You want some risk and some guys to lay up, probably as many guys lay up as you want to go for it. So you have some course management there, it's not just 100 percent smash your driver and go for it. It's fun to see some different course management strategies being used.”

On a short course like Plainfield, accurate driving is of utmost importance. Without it, players could find the local New Jersey fans off to the side, offering plenty of attitude. Of course, it wouldn’t be the only time this week. John Rollins can attest to that.

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.

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.