Reversal of Fortune
The International team turned the tables on the Americans in Friday's morning Four-ball matches at the 4th biennial Presidents Cup in Prince William County, Va. Shut out after Day One, the defending champions earned a full four points in the better-ball format to cut their overall deficit to 6-4.
Campbell/Goosen vs. Sutton/Azinger
Just as the U.S. did on Thursday, the Internationals got off to a hot start on Friday and never looked back. Michael Campbell and Retief Goosen were the first to go out, the first to come in and the first to record a point for their team.
After sitting out Thursday's matches, Campbell showed no signs of nerves in his maiden Cup appearance. The Kiwi helped his South African partner record six birdies, and also added a solo eagle at the par-5 14th for an easy 4-and-3 victory over his American counterparts.
Any chance the Americans had of earning a point in this match were dissolved at the short par-4 10th. Down three, and with Goosen in the greenside bunker off the tee, Hal Sutton tried to lay-up safely in the fairway, but pushed his tee shot into the right rough.
With no margin for error, Paul Azinger pulled out the driver and went for the green. He found the hazard. The Americans lost the hole, and, in effect, lost the match.
'This is a huge boost to our confidence,' said Campbell. 'Hopefully, this is a good start to the rest of the week.'
Furyk/Duval vs. Price/Norman
Greg Norman and Nick Price have played in a combined 26-career Presidents Cup matches. Yet, until Friday, they had never been paired together.
You might see this twosome again.
Price and Norman carded seven birdies and no bogeys over 13 holes to soundly defeat Jim Furyk and David Duval 6-and-5. Norman made a three-foot birdie putt at the 3rd to take a 1-up lead - a lead they would never relinquish. The Australian atoned for his poor performance on Thursday by sinking nearly every putt he faced inside 15 feet.
By contrast, Furyk and Duval couldn't buy a putt. The tandem combined for only two birdies and one bogey. That bogey came at the par-3 9th. Down three, Furyk hit his tee shot into the water surrounding the left side of the green. Inexplicably, Duval followed suit. The Internationals went 4-up and cruised to victory. The final blow was a four-foot par putt by Norman at the 13th; said his complimentary playing companion: 'Greg played about as well as I've seen him in quite some time.'
Lehman/Roberts vs. Weir/Elkington,
Like his fellow Australian, Steve Elkington helped his partner record seven birdies en route to a 3-and-2 victory over Tom Lehman and Loren Roberts.
Roberts and Lehman played well, particularly Lehman. The 1996 British Open champion birdied three holes in a row to square the match early, but a near hole-out by Weir at the par-4 7th gave the Internationals the lead for good.
After Roberts cut the International's lead to 1-up with a birdie at the 12th, Elkington responded with a birdie of his own at the 13th to reclaim a 2-up advantage. Weir closed out the match with the team's seventh, and final birdie of the day at the par-3 16th.
Woods/Begay III vs. Maruyama/Franco
Tiger Woods and Notah Begay III defeated Ernie Els and Vijay Singh on Thursday. Surely, they could handle Shigeki Maruyama and Carlos Franco.
Thursday, Begay and Woods never trailed. Friday, they never led. Franco converted birdie putts on the 9th and 11th holes to give his team a 2-up lead. Maruyama then contributed with his first birdie of the day at the 14th to go 3-up with four holes to play.
The two teams halved the next two holes to give the Internationals a 3-and-2 win. It was Maruyama's sixth-career Presidents Cup victory. He's never lost a match. On the other hand, it was Franco's first-career Cup win.
Mickelson/Love III vs. Els/Singh
The duo of Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III avoided an American whitewashing by defeating Els and Singh 2-and-1.
The U.S. maintained at least a 2-up lead for the better part of the day, before Singh unexpectedly dropped a 30-foot birdie putt at the 13th to cut the International deficit to 1-down.
With the match in the balance, Mickelson sank a birdie putt at the 15th to reclaim a 2-up lead. Love then sealed the deal with a 25-foot birdie bomb at the 17th to close out the Internationals 2-and-1.
After a very short break, the two teams are back out on the course for five Afternoon Foursome matches.
Friday Afternoon Foursomes
Cink/Triplett vs. Allenby/Appleby
Roberts/Azinger vs. Franco/Maruyama
Woods/Begay III vs. Singh/Els
Sutton/Lehman vs. Campbell/Goosen
Mickelson/Duval vs. Price/Weir
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
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.
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
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
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
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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.