Getting Your Phil at Pebble

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 3, 2001, 5:00 pm
Phil Mickelson has plenty of players to contend with if he wants to win his second AT&T Pebble Beach title. But there's one in particular who everyone has an eye on.
Mickelson and Olin Browne share the 54-hole lead in Pebble Beach, Calif., at 14-under-par. The duo leads last year's runner-up, Vijay Singh, by two shots. Mickelson made his way to the top of the leaderboard by firing a six-under-par 66 at Pebble, while Browne tied the low round of the day, a seven-under-par 65 at Poppy Hills.
Overnight leader Matt Gogel followed his second-round 62 with a third-round 81 at Spyglass. He'll now need a Tiger-esque comeback to avenge last year's bitter defeat. For that matter, so too will Woods.
Tiger kept alive his hopes of becoming the first person since Mark O'Meara in 1990 to successfully defend his title by shooting a three-under-par 69 at Pebble Beach. Woods stands at eight-under-par for the tournament, six shots off the lead. Last year, he trailed by five with 18 holes to play.
Tiger stumbled out of the blocks on Saturday, bogeying his first two holes; including the short par-five second.
'I hit a great drive and then quick-sniped my second shot,' Woods said of his bogey on the second hole. 'I hit my third into the bunker and didn't get up and down.'
Woods collected his first birdie of the day at the par-three fifth, and then earned No. 2 at the sixth. At that point, he stood at five-under-par, where he remained until successive birdies at the 13th and 14th holes.
Woods officially climbed to within striking distance by carding his third birdie in five holes at the 17th. And with the par-five 18th remaining, it appeared certain as if he would enter the clubhouse at nine-under.
However, it wasn't to be. Woods' three-foot birdie putt made a horseshoe around the cup. Despite the missed opportunity, Tiger left the course knowing he was still in contention.
'I got a shot at it, but that last putt leaves a bad taste in my mouth,' said Woods. 'It's been like that all year. It's indicative of how my entire year's been so far.'
Putting has been Tiger's Achilles heel in 2001. He says, this week, it's not so much the stroke as it is the surface.
'I feel like I'm hitting it good,' Woods said. 'You just have to get the right bounces on the greens for the ball to fall.'
Woods knows, unlike in the third round, he'll have to get off to a good start on Sunday if he wants to catch the leaders. Knowing Tiger's history, he's still in it. Knowing Gogel's, he's not.
As he did in the final round in 2000, Gogel recorded a back-nine 40 on Saturday. However, unlike that of a year ago, he didn't post 31 on the front, but rather a 41.
Gogel's day at Spyglass began with a bogey at the par-five first. Following two more dropped shots at the fourth and sixth holes, disaster struck at the seventh.
Playing the par-five, Gogel's second-shot lay-up came dangerously close to a hazard. Gogel decided to play his third shot from the water's edge, but chunked it. This time, he was wet. He eventually made a double-bogey seven.
Gogel's misfortune wasn't delegated to the front nine. He lost four more strokes to par on the inward half, including a bogey at the last.
'I just didn't have it today,' said Gogel, who graciously signed autographs before leaving the course. 'It happens to everybody. You just take it on the chin. More good will eventually come than the bad in the short term.'
Though Gogel couldn't duplicate his second-round 62, Mickelson was able to mirror his Day-Two 66.
Once again, the putts fell for the lefty. Mickelson rolled in birdie putts of 15 feet on the third, 20 feet on the seventh and 35 feet on the ninth. In addition, he also stuck a few irons inside ten feet for four more birdies.
'What I have found is when putts fall in the hole I take a lot of pressure off my ball striking,' said Mickelson. 'I don't necessarily have to go for par-5s in two, I can wedge it up there in eight or 10 feet and make it.'
Mickelson is vying for his second Pebble Beach title in the last four years, but his first over 72 holes. In 1998, Mickelson won a 54-hole tournament in which the final round was postponed due to weather until August.
Browne doesn't share the same fondness for the Monterey Peninsula, as does Mickelson. Browne has missed five cuts in six prior starts. Of course, a bogey-free round of 65 can change one's opinion.
'I've never really liked playing here,' said Browne, whose only cut made resulted in a tie for 58th. 'It's a wonderful place, but the weather is so atrocious every year. It's such a joy to be here under these kinds of conditions. I'm loving every second of it this week.'
Browne's second round at Poppy Hills began with an eagle at the par-five 10th. Six straight pars ensued before he rolled in a 60-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th.
'That was my gift today,' he said. 'Happy New Year!'
For the day, Browne recorded five birdies and one eagle. He played the five par-fives in five-under-par.
Standing in the shadows, as he often seems to do, is Singh. The reigning Masters champion posted a solid round of two-under-par 70 at Spyglass. It wasn't spectacular, but it has him in solo third place.
'I'm a little disappointed, but quite happy with the position,' Singh said. 'I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I think I will do well.'
Last year, Singh started the final round one off the lead, but was passed - like everyone else - by a surging Woods. Singh tied Gogel for second place after shooting a Sunday 70.
Four players are currently tied for fourth place at 11-under-par, including Mike Weir, who shot 65 at Poppy Hills, Jerry Kelly, who shot 68 at Poppy Hills, Ronnie Black, who shot 70 at Pebble Beach, and Craig Barlow, who shot 67 at Pebble Beach.
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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.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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.

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.