A Day for 'Young Tom'

By Jay CoffinJuly 14, 2011, 8:21 pm

SANDWICH, England – Tom Watson shot 72 Thursday at the Open Championship and only wanted to talk about one thing.

Tom Lewis, how about that,” the five-time Open champion said with conviction. “He could be my grandson.”

Yes, he could. And he’s also leading the Open Championship.

Lewis, 20, shocked all of Royal St. George’s late Thursday when, as an English amateur, he birdied four of the last five holes to shoot 5-under 65 and tie Thomas Bjorn for the first-round lead. The last amateur to lead this championship was Michael Bonallack, who shared the opening-round lead with Brian Barnes in 1968 at Carnoustie.

To top it all off, and make the day perfect for the Team Lewis, Tom played alongside Watson, whom he is named after. Bryan Lewis, a former European Tour professional, idolized Watson and insisted wife Lynda name their first son Tom. To keep the golf theme well embedded in the family they named their second boy Jack.

Their daughter’s name?

“Stacey,” Lynda Lewis said. “Named after a model my husband fancied.”

All of England fancied Young Tom Lewis here at the Open, a place that has launched the careers of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Chris Wood and Matteo Manassero, all of whom were amateurs when they first made noise.

This year, it’s Lewis. He was so nervous to play with Watson that he introduced himself on the practice range earlier in the week. Lewis didn’t want the stress of dealing with such pleasantries Thursday on the first tee. In fact, Bryan Lewis was so nervous for his son that he stayed home and watched television coverage. He couldn’t bear to walk alongside his child and his childhood idol.

“I think he’s even more nervous now,” Tom Lewis quipped.

Young Tom was a cool cucumber during Round 1. He one-putted the first eight holes and made three birdies to get to 3 under. But bogeys on Nos. 11 and 13 pushed him back to 1 under and seemingly out of the picture. Then Lewis came blazing back with four consecutive birdies on 14-17 and closed by converting a 5-footer for par on the final hole for 65. Lewis’ only misstep of the day came on that same 18th hole when he “was in the zone” so much that he walked up to the green quickly and realized later that he should’ve waited for Watson to walk up with him.

“He’s quite a refined player at age 20,” Watson said. “I just had to smile inside to watch him play. I didn’t play particularly well myself, but I certainly was impressed by the way he played.”

The journey to get here was quite long, even for such a young man. Lewis was dyslexic and quit school as a 16-year-old to focus solely on improving his golf skills. His mother wasn’t concerned because she knew her son could always go back to school if life on the links didn’t pan out. But Tom Lewis has progressed so much during the past four years that professional golf is the only job he’ll likely ever have. He plans on turning professional after the Walker Cup later this summer.

Lewis earned his spot in this tournament by winning the Local Final Qualifying event at nearby Rye. When he realized he was in the Open Championship he was ecstatic for two reasons – he was familiar with Royal St. George’s because he won the British Boys here two years ago and he knew he’d have an advantage over most of his competitors here because he plays most of his competitive golf on links layouts.

“I’ve only played one this year that’s not been on links,” he said.

It’s early, but Lewis is in position to do something special here over the next three days. His original goal was just to make the cut and capture the Silver Medal that is awarded to the low amateur. Now, he has his eyes set on a prize much more prestigious, the claret jug.

“I’m sure I’m not going to shoot four 65s,” Lewis said. “I’m going to have tough moments. As long as I limit my mistakes and shoot 70 or below, then I’ll be more than happy.”

No matter what happens from here forward, Lewis never will forget Thursday at Royal St. George’s.

“To shoot 65 in front of Tom was just excellent,” Lewis said of playing with Watson. “He was just a great man to play with today.”

And all that great man could talk about afterward was playing with a great young star who shared the same name.

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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.