Reality Check

By John HawkinsAugust 10, 2010, 12:08 am

His performance at Firestone was laughable, full of shots you would expect from a 10 handicap, not the best golfer ever. A week that began with Tiger Woods talking about not having time to practice ended with him at 18 over par, the worst 72-hole score of his career. The post-tournament media briefing was just as comical, as Tiger leaned on self-deprecating humor in an attempt to explain himself. It was almost as rare as the awful play that preceded it.

For the first time since his infamous public confession (Feb. 19), however, Woods sounded like a man ready to surrender to reality, which would qualify as a huge step forward in a rehabilitation process that hasn’t really happened. At Firestone, a golf course he has dominated like no other, Tiger’s basically was inept. Perhaps the experience altered him to the fact that hard work and success are synonymous, that focus is as essential to shooting a decent number as a tweak to the golf swing.

“Not tomorrow,” Woods said of searching for answers after Sunday’s final-round 77. “I’ll be up there [Whistling Straits] today. I can probably play 18 and still watch the guys finish [at Firestone].” From a guy who five days earlier had blamed his winless 2010 on a busy schedule, the sense of urgency amounted to progress.

At the very least, Eldrick Almighty has turned misaligned priorities into a felony. No time to work on his game? Really? Forget for a moment that any tour pro, much less the best in the world, isn’t afforded the luxury of such an excuse. As revelations of his illicit behavior turned into an avalanche last winter, it became clear that Tiger had remained a great player despite his off-course transgressions. The lies to his wife, deceptive life and adulterous stretches added up to a massive distraction, yet he still won five or six times without breaking a sweat and never had to worry about losing the No. 1 spot in the world ranking.

Firestone proved Woods can’t overcome anything and everything. Instead of immersing himself in golf to soothe the pain of a collapsed marriage, Tiger appears to have done the opposite. Considering all the self-imposed damage, a loss of desire almost seems logical, but at some point, a man must identify who he is and what he does. First, second and third, Tiger Woods is a golfer. If finishing 30 strokes out of first place doesn’t lead him to the Land of Soul Searching, nothing will, but my sense is that last week’s misery served as a pretty loud wake-up call.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

For the record, on-site sources at Whistling Straits say they did not see Woods on the grounds Sunday afternoon. His caddie, Steve Williams, went through his usual pre-tournament preparation, but Tiger didn’t show, which doesn’t mean that he wasn’t working on his game somewhere else. The fact that he was so unforgiving and excuse-free when assessing the state of his game is a step in the right direction. Even if he’s 15 or 20 steps away from returning to premium form.

If you’re U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, you express concern over Woods’ woes but acknowledge that you have to offer him a spot on the team if he doesn’t qualify. You don’t leave behind a guy with 71 victories and 14 major titles – doesn’t matter how sideways he’s hitting it. A lot can change between now and October 1, and besides, Pavin doesn’t have to make his picks until Sept. 7, so we’re talking about a pretty large window of opportunity. That said, the decision to participate should be Tiger’s. If he’s playing like he is now, he won’t want to go, anyway.

“Shooting 18 over par is not fun,” Woods quipped shortly before heading to Whistling Straits. “I don’t see how it can be fun. Especially when my handicap is supposed to be zero.” A chuckle or two later, one could see how Tiger’s only true handicap is a reluctance to come to terms with reality.

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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.