Early Painful Exit for Irwin

By Mercer BaggsJune 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Hale Irwin withdrew during the first round of the 103rd U.S. Open when his lower back went into a spasm after hitting his tee shot at the par-4 12th. He hit his shot dead left and was then taken off the course on a stretcher.
 
I dont feel very good about what happened, of course, Irwin said after leaving the on-site fitness trailer. Very disappointing, but Ive got to take some time, I guess, and give this aggravation a rest.
 
Irwin, who was 1-over at the time of his incident, said his back problems began two weeks ago. It didnt help matters that he had to play 30 holes Sunday at the Senior PGA Championship.
 
The three-time U.S. Open champion said he would rest his back and continue to receive ice and stimulation treatments in hopes of competing in the upcoming U.S. Senior Open.
 
BARNES LACKS THE DRIVE
 
Ricky Barnes was at a disadvantage in Thursdays opening round. It had nothing to do with playing alongside Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. He has certainly proven his broad shoulders can carry immense weight.
 
No, this was an unexpected equipment issue.
 
On his final swing before leaving the practice range prior to his first round, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion heard an explosion. And then saw the head of his driver 120 yards down the range. After hitting some practice putts, he walked to his first hole, the par-4 10th, uncertain of his big-stick status.
 
My brother gave me a driver on the 10th hole and said, This is all we can find, Barnes said.
 
The driver ' Barnes said he doesnt know where his brother got it from ' was the same brand, Titleist, but had different specifications.
 
A little different length and a little different loft, he said. So it was a struggle, going to the first hole in the U.S. Open and not having your driver.
 
Barnes said he used the driver six, seven times, but couldnt steer it straight. For the round, he hit only five of 14 fairways.
 
Im a little disappointed. Not to say that I would have scored much better, but I know I could have hit a couple of more fairways.
 
Barnes finished with a respectable 1-over 71. He shot 69 in the first round of this years Masters Tournament, en route to tying for 21st place.
 
WHAT ELS IS NEW?
 
Ernie Els stormed out of the gates this year, winning his first two PGA Tour events and four worldwide before March. Then he injured his right wrist hitting a punching bag, prior to Bay Hill, and hasnt been the same since.
 
Els said, before the first round, that the wrist is no longer a worry, but scoring continues to be a problem.
 
Thats the way its been going, hasnt it? Ive been playing like this a while now, he said when asked if he felt like he was playing better than his scores indicated. At least I made a couple more putts today.
 
The 1994 and 97 U.S. Open champion managed one birdie and 17 pars for a 1-under 69. He had 29 putts for his round.
 
COURSE AS EASY AS IT GETS
 
Padraig Harrington, making his sixth career U.S. Open appearance, shot 1-under 69 Thursday. It was just his second sub-70 round in this event.
 
Certainly of all the ones Ive seen, probably that was the easiest, he said of how Olympia Fields played in round one. No wind, the greens are receptive, pin positions today.
 
I thought somebody would really shoot a low score with the conditions.
 
THE NEED FOR SPEED
 
Ian Leggatt didnt have the luxury of growing up in an area where one can play golf year-round. Living in Canada, he had to find something else to do during those winter months.
 
I lived really close to a golf course, used to ride my bike there in the summer time and that was what I did in the summer for seven months out of the year, and then I skated in the winter time, he said.
 
But he didnt just play hockey.
 
I got into speed skating by trying to get more ice time, he said, adding he competed in the sport for almost a decade.
 
Leggatt shot 2-under 68 in the first round, a nice reprieve from a season of suffering. Leggatt missed seven weeks, between the Nissan and the Heritage, in order to rest an injured hand. Hes also battled tendonitis in his elbow, nosebleeds due to his allergies and a stomach virus.
 
Last years Tucson Open champion has yet to break into the top 20 in any of his 12 previous starts this season.
 
The way my year has been going with injuries, I came in with no expectations, he said. Im just happy to be playing again more than anything.
 
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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.