Gangluff: The quintessential Q-School student

By John FeinsteinOctober 17, 2012, 5:01 pm

If Stephen Gangluff has learned anything after a lifetime of playing golf it is that trying as hard as you can to play the game well is mostly a waste of time.

He can remember telling himself he had to give everything he had no matter how bad things looked back at PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament seven years ago and failing utterly. He can also remember going to Q-School finals a year ago and just, “giving up.” The result was a second-place finish that put him back on Tour for the first time since 2002.

As much as anyone who has teed it up at Q-School since it first began in 1964, Gangluff symbolizes the highs and the lows of the event. In 2001, at age 26, he made it through all three stages to get his PGA Tour card. Four years later he was back at first stage, having wandered through the golfing wilderness after losing his playing privileges. In 2002 he was a full-fledged Tour player. A year later he was on what is now the Web.com Tour. By 2004, he was working in the pro shop jockeying carts at a club in Ponte Vedra in return for playing and range privileges. It was a fall from golfing grace that was difficult for him to comprehend.

“The biggest problem you have is coming to grips with where your game is,” he said late Tuesday after playing a practice round prior to the McGladrey Classic. “Every time something goes wrong your first instinct is to think, ‘why do I have to do this? Why am I here? I was a player on the PGA Tour – I can’t possibly be back at first stage. This just isn’t right.’ But it is right. The game’s never unfair to you. The game is the game – it’s you against yourself and if you go out there and beat yourself then you’re going to lose every time.”

In 2005, Gangluff found himself playing a Q-School first stage at TPC Tampa Bay, a golf course that hosts a Champions Tour event every year and is generally considered more difficult than most first stage sites. He was in the hunt to be one of the 19 players who would advance to the second stage when the wheels came off in the third round. Fairways were missed; putts rimmed out. All the bad thoughts he had been fighting to avoid flooded through his mind. Each bad swing brought another bad thought. The golf demons, as he calls them, came back.

By the time he finished he had shot 75 and had fallen out of contention. As if that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Wilma was bearing down on Florida that week, just six weeks after the devastation of Katrina. Many players who were out of contention withdrew after the third round, wanting to get home before the hurricane rolled in the next day.

Dillard Pruitt, who was running the qualifer for the Tour, decided to try to beat the hurricane by sending everyone out to begin the final round an hour after they completed the third round. “That way maybe we can get everyone finished and out of here by noon tomorrow,” he explained. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Most players – those who hadn’t withdrawn – went to the range or the putting green during their break. Gangluff sat in the lobby of the clubhouse, alone with his thoughts, wanting to get as far away from golf as he possibly could, but never once thinking about escaping.

“You sign up for 72 holes, you play 72 holes, that’s the way I was always taught,” he said. “The thought of quitting never crossed my mind. Actually, I remember sitting in that chair and thinking to myself, ‘well, you missed, what do you do next? Where do you go from here?’ Then I looked at the board and thought, ‘well if you shoot 59, you can still make it.’ At least that made me smile. I decided the thing for me to do next was to go out and try as hard as I possibly could to shoot 59. I knew I almost certainly wasn’t going to do it but I figured if I did do it what a story that would be.”

Gangluff shot 67, grinding until the last putt was in the hole. It gave him something to grasp as he drove away that morning to go home and deal with the hurricane.

“It was a mixed blessing to have been on the Tour at that point,” he said. “On the one hand I had to fight all those demons telling me how unfair it was for me to be playing at the first stage. But I also knew – KNEW – I was good enough, that the game was inside me somewhere if I could just find it. That’s what kept me going forward.”

With no status on any PGA Tour level in 2006, Gangluff went back to playing the Canadian Tour. He qualified for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot that year and made the cut – finishing tied for 40th. “That was a real confidence boost,” he said.

He made it back to what was then the Nationwide Tour a year later and again played that tour in 2011. After what he called a “horrible year” in 2011 he decided to give Q-School one more shot.

“By then a buddy of mine who works at Farmington Country Club (outside Charlottesville, Va.) had hired me to work in the pro shop and I loved the place,” he said. “He told me to go try Q-School, play as hard as I could and if it didn’t work out, my job with him would be waiting for me.

“I think that relaxed me. No wondering, ‘what do I do if this doesn’t work.’ By the time I got to finals it was almost as if I wasn’t trying. I never touched a club the week before I went to Palm Desert. I hit exactly one post round-practice shot the whole week – I hit a bad tee shot at 18 one day, walked to the range, hit one ball dead straight to make sure I still had it and went home. I finally figured out how to stop trying. And it worked.”

Six years after he couldn’t come close to getting out of first stage, Gangluff finished second at Q-School finals. He was back on Tour, 10 years after he had first been there.

“The problem’s been I haven’t been able to keep not trying,” he said, laughing. “You get out here you see how hard guys are working and you figure, ‘I need to do that, too.’ You get tight when you have a chance to do something and then you start guiding the ball and that’s no good. If I had this year to do over again, I might never go to the range.”

The year has been a struggle. Gangluff has been going through a divorce. He refuses to use that as an excuse and says he thinks about it more at night after he’s played than when he’s playing. “A bad day at the golf course and you sit around and think about it a lot at night,” he said. “But that’s not why I haven’t played better.”

Gangluff will tee it up at McGladrey having made six cuts in 21 starts with his best finish coming last week at Frys.com where he tied for 64th place. He shot 70-67 the first two days, 74-74 on the weekend.

If Gangluff finds lightning in a bottle this week or at Disney and vaults into the top 125 on the money list (he’s 218th right now) he’ll know he’s figured out a way to not try. If that doesn’t happen, it’s back to Q-School – one more time.

“The good news is I know I can do it – still,” he said. “I just have to figure out how to bottle what I had last year. Of course if I could do that, I’d never have to play Q-School again.”

If only golf were that simple.

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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.