U.S. Open fun for 'Young Guns'

By Jason SobelJune 12, 2014, 8:46 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Three of golf’s brightest young stars stood on the tee box of the treacherous par-3 ninth hole early Thursday afternoon at the year’s most treacherous tournament. This being their last hole of the opening round, it was the point where their nerves should have been completely frayed, where the mental anguish had eaten away at their composure and the frustration had left their scorecards as barren as Pinehurst’s numerous waste areas.

Instead, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler assessed the warm breeze with the patience of a routine practice session. Each of them might have even cracked a little smile – usually forbidden at the U.S. Open – when Spieth broke the silence with a pertinent observation.

“Nobody,” he said to playing partners who along with him were a collective 4 under for the round, “is going to beat our score today.’”

Consider it the innocence of youth that minutes later both Spieth and Fowler were cleaning up bogeys to conclude their rounds, but that underscores the major theme of their day.

In a tournament where it’s so often believed that experience is of the utmost importance, the USGA’s so-called “Young Guns” group included a trio of players who each shot even par or better.

Spieth, 20, posted a 1-under 69; Matsuyama, 22, matched that score; and Fowler, 25, shot even-par 70.


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“It was a lot of fun,” Spieth insisted, using an adjective not often associated with this event. “Both of those guys played really well, so we were able to feed off each other. You just want to see some putts go in at a venue like this. You just want to see any putts going in, so you know you can make them.”

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this group was the not-so-gentle reminder that youthfulness is not synonymous with inexperience. That even though these three combined are still younger than Jack Nicklaus, that doesn’t mean they aren’t seasoned enough to contend for this major championship.

Spieth has already shown that ability. Just two months ago, he played in the final pairing at the Masters Tournament and finished in a share of second place. He followed that with a fourth-place result at The Players Championship. Which means that anyone thinking the world’s 10th-ranked player wouldn’t be a serious contender this week clearly hasn’t been paying attention lately.

“I'm striking it pretty well; it's getting close,” he said after a round that included four birdies against three bogeys. “I started missing fairways in the middle kind of second half of the round today. It's not fun to play out of the weeds, but I got it around. So if I get back on track to the beginning of the round, sure, I think there's some birdies out there.”

Same goes for Matsuyama. The recent Memorial Tournament champion matched Spieth’s birdie and bogey total on Thursday, once again proving himself to be a player ready-made for major contention. In six previous major starts, he’s made five cuts and owns three top-20 finishes.

“Putting was the strong part of my game today,” he allowed. “Just one shot at a time tomorrow and just do my very best.”

If there was a story in the early-morning hours, it was Fowler arriving at the course in plus-fours with argyle socks pulled to his knees – an unmistakable tribute to the late Payne Stewart, who won this tournament on this course 15 years ago.

“It’s cool to be in the position I’m in to wear some attire like he used to wear, to give tribute to him,” he explained. “Obviously he had a special week here in ’99. And I’m off to a decent start.”

With a T-10 at last year’s U.S. Open and a T-5 earlier this year at the Masters, Fowler is establishing himself as another young player who has a knack for getting into contention at majors - just like Spieth and Matsuyama.

“Jordan is one of the top players in the world right now, Hideki is obviously moving up the world ranks and I’ve kind of been hanging around,” he said. “We’re going to be playing against each other for a long time. And it’s fun to be able to get ourselves in contention at majors.

“There are so many good young players out right now, we’re trying to get into the scene a little bit. We’re trying to take some of the majors away from some of the older guys.”

It wasn’t long after that final hole of the day, after Spieth proudly proclaimed that they’d have the day’s best combined score and two of them promptly followed with bogeys, that he was retelling the story of this bravado.

“I guess I jinxed it,” he said with a laugh.

Maybe. On a day when three young stars collectively played the U.S. Open in under par, though, even this jinx couldn’t keep ‘em from laughing about it afterward.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

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Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.