Just for fun, Jack? Players would disagree

By Jason SobelOctober 6, 2013, 1:35 am

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The following is one man’s assessment of the Presidents Cup: “The guys should have fun. It's a goodwill competition. It's for bragging rights.”

Hey, a single opinion isn’t that important. Except when that single opinion comes from the mind of none other than Jack Nicklaus, 18-time major winner, four-time captain and resident Big Cheese here at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

I’m not one to contradict Jack – er, Mr. Nicklaus – especially in his own house, so on the eve of this year’s edition of the competition coming to a (hopefully) dramatic conclusion, allow me to leave that chore to the men wearing red, white and blue.

If this were just for fun … Tiger Woods wouldn’t be stalking the fairways with that major championship glare in his eyes. He wouldn’t be gritting his teeth and walking after shots and pumping his fist if this were all just fun and games. In case you haven’t noticed over the years, Tiger isn’t capable of pretending to care when he really doesn’t. It’s not in his DNA.

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If this were only for goodwill … Zach Johnson wouldn’t have celebrated like he won the lottery when he holed an approach shot on No. 15 to culminate a come-from-behind foursomes victory on Saturday afternoon. And it certainly wouldn’t have drawn a smile from his laconic partner Jason Dufner, who was so excited about the win that he gave Johnson a little chest bump.

If this were solely for bragging rights … Fred Couples wouldn’t be mopping his brow and pursing his lips and generally spending the week looking as un-Fred Couples-like as could be. The United States captain is usually the very picture of coolness, but this week, as former team member Justin Leonard once described him, “He's like a duck on the water. He's very smooth and calm on the surface, but underneath he's paddling like crazy.”

Those are simply examples, not meant to single out specific participants as caring more than others, because the truth is, they all do.

And they’ve all heard the not-so-quiet whispers, too. This isn’t as important as the Ryder Cup. The players don’t care about winning. It doesn’t mean that much to them. Here’s the problem with that: Just because you don’t care that much doesn’t mean they don’t, either.

That’s not to compare this event to its biennial brethren. If there’s a difference between the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, it exists in the pressure.

At the Ryder Cup, the hopes of a nation rest on the shoulders of those competing. But the Presidents Cup? The nation hopes for a win in between checking its collective fantasy football scores.

And therein lies an innate problem: The United States team has cultivated such a dominant history at this competition that it’s largely taken for granted these days. Couples’ squad will enter Sunday’s play with an 11½ to 6½ advantage as four matches from Saturday’s foursomes session have yet to be completed.

A victory for the U.S. will be greeted with less emotion than Dufner usually shows after holing a short par putt. Just another win over the “other guys” in various shades of cream and chartreuse. Another beatdown of a bunch of players whose last names look like an eye chart.

A loss, though, will be cause for national concern. Especially a loss that occurs after owning a five-point advantage on Saturday evening. And even more especially a loss that occurs after the team led by four points at this juncture during last year’s Ryder Cup.

And yes, we all remember what happened there.

That includes the U.S. team. But there’s a big difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. Couples is directing his players toward the former, obviously, but not simply to avoid that cause for national concern.

“Everyone's playing so well; it's really very little stress,” the captain explained. “The only thing I pay a lot of attention to is my guys. You know, they will [ask] me right now” ‘When is the bus leaving?’ I [don’t] care. ‘When is the bus going in the morning?’ I don't care.

“When we get out here, I care a lot. I care how they are feeling, how they are striking it, pay attention to them.”

Those aren’t the words of a captain who is competing for fun. Or for goodwill. Or for bragging rights.

But hey, I’m not going to be the one to contradict Mr. Nicklaus in his own house. I’ll just let the actions and emotions of the United States’ team speak for themselves.

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.