Spieth still 'grinding' for one more win to end year

By Mercer BaggsDecember 4, 2015, 8:59 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – It’s not imperative that Jordan Spieth win this week’s Hero World Challenge. But it would be fitting.

This is Spieth’s final event of the year, a year in which he won two majors, five PGA Tour events, a FedEx Cup title and in excess of $22 million.

Why not add another trophy and an extra mil?

Spieth shares the 36-hole lead at Albany, tied with Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas at 11 under. It didn't look good early Friday, however, as he began his second round by playing the first five holes in 1 over.

"At that point ... I was walking to the next tee box and I told [caddie] Michael [Greller] my swing feels as good as it has in a long time, my putting feels as good as it has in a long time, maybe Augusta. I feel so comfortable with my putter right now, especially 5 feet and out," Spieth said. "But I told him, I was walking to the tee and I said everything feels awesome, I'm just not scoring right now. He said hang in there, keep giving yourself putts.

"And sure enough we rallied off seven of them. Well, five and an eagle."

Spieth played Nos. 6-14 in 7 under, with the aforementioned five birdies and an eagle at the par-5 11th. He finished with a 6-under 66.

“It was a rough start,” he said, “but, boy, a great bounce back."

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Spieth is the defending champion, having won by 10 strokes with a tournament-record 26-under total a year ago at Isleworth Golf & Country Club. That margin of victory might not be possible this time around, but it may take something near 20 under to repeat.

It’s telling that Spieth is in this position. After a historic season, he has every right to cruise into the new year. Instead, he’s again in contention, again grinding away for a victory.

Not that it’s all work. Spieth has friends on hand and he has every intention of enjoying the Bahamian atmosphere. And he said that he has no plans of wearing himself out on the range after his round. 

"It's still all about rest. I mean, for me coming off how much golf we've been playing, I'm still going to be about making sure I'm resting," he said. "I'm not killing myself out here. You don't want to wear yourself down."

But back to the “grind.” That’s Spieth’s word. When he gets between the ropes, he said, that’s his attitude – regardless of when and where he’s playing.

It was evident on Friday. Spieth was Spieth. He was hitting great shots, talking to his ball, looking incredulously at Greller when shots went awry, using his caddie as a sounding board. It was the same Spieth we see week in and week out.

The one who hasn’t let adversity, like a sluggish start, get the better of him.

"On the golf course, I mean, I'm still getting as intense and upset and highs and lows that I experience at a normal PGA Tour event," he said.

When Spieth sets his mind to something, good results usually follow. He admitted to a little lapse at the beginning of the playoffs, but that ended up just fine. His major season, which garners his greatest focus, also went pretty well.

Focus isn’t a problem this week, and it even comes with an on/off switch. Spieth has 36 holes remaining in his 2015 campaign. After that, it’s relaxing with the family and a few leisurely rounds at Augusta National.

He’s looking forward to that respite, and he's certainly enjoying this week off the course. But he’s got a little more business to take care of first.

"It's still a half-vacation in my mind," he said.

"But the grind is still there."

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.