Love Leads Packed Leaderboard at Buick

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 10, 2001, 5:00 pm
Davis Love III won't have to come from behind to win this week's Buick Invitational, but he may have to provide another final-round flurry to stave off the competition.
Twenty-two players are within four strokes of Love's 54-hole lead, including Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Love broke from a six-way tie at the top by birdying the par-five 18th on the South Course at Torrey Pines to take a one-shot advantage at 14-under-par.
Love's two-under-par 70 was good enough to give him sole possession of the lead over Greg Kraft (66), Mike Weir (68), Frank Lickliter (68), Brent Geiberger (70) and Mickelson (71).
Woods headlines a group of four players tied for seventh place. Woods carded a bogey-free 67 to tie David Morland IV (68), Jay Don Blake (68) and Dennis Paulson (69) at 12-under-par.
Love and Mickelson each had a chance to separate themselves from the pack in the third round. Instead, they allowed the field to close in.
Mickelson got off to a hot start on a cold, overcast day in La Jolla, Calif., by birdying the second and sinking a 35-foot eagle putt at the par-five sixth. Entering the seventh, the defending champion was three-up at 15-under-par.
Then disaster struck.
Mickelson duck-hooked his tee shot on the par-four seventh into a eucalyptus tree. The ball stuck in the branches, but thanks to a pair of binoculars, Mickelson was able to identify his ball. He took a penalty drop and eventually made double bogey.
The defending champion quickly recovered those two lost shots by birdying the eighth and ninth holes, but once again ran into trouble at the par-three 11th. Mickelson missed the green to the right off the tee and then chipped 20 feet short of the hole. He carded a bogey to drop to 14-under.
Last year, Mickelson led by four strokes through six holes of the final round, but double bogeyed the seventh and 11th holes. He rallied, however, to win comfortably.
Such was not the case this Saturday. Mickelson badly missed a five-foot par putt at the par-three 16th, then popped up his drive on the par-five 18th and made par.
Love never really got it going in the third round. His day started with a two-foot par putt that lipped out on the first hole. He recorded only four birdies, three of which came on the reachable par-fives.
Yet, the birdie at the last was enough to give him not only outright possession of the lead, but a spot in the final threesome.
'I actually rolled the ball pretty good,' said Love. 'I'm not happy with my score. Maybe tomorrow everything can come together.'
Love will play in Sunday's final group with Kraft and Weir. Kraft eagled the 18th to finish at 13-under, while Weir notched four consecutive birdies beginning at the eighth en route to his 68.
While Woods is facing his smallest deficit this year going into the final round, he could have easily been closer. Tiger sprayed several drives and iron shots, but, thanks to a steady putter, managed to record five birdies without making a bogey.
'I just didn't hit the ball that well,' Woods said. 'If I can hit it like yesterday and putt like I did today, it would be a great combination. This game is very fickle.'
Love would agree.
After 62 starts without a victory, Love has a chance to win in back-to-back events. Last week, he overcame a seven-shot final-round deficit by shooting 63 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
This time, he'll play from the lead position, but will do so well aware of what's behind him.
'Anything can happen,' said Love, 'It's going to be an interesting tournament.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Only three of the 85 players who made the cut are over par for the tournament.
*Frank Lickliter played his final three holes in four-under-par. He birdied the 16th and 18th holes, and holed his approach shot at the par-four 17th for an eagle.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Buick Invitational!

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.