Woods Heads Depleted Field in Spain

By Mercer BaggsNovember 8, 2000, 5:00 pm
It might be a World Golf Championship in title, but it's not in field. Thirteen of the top 50 players in the world have decided to skip this week's American Express Championship in Sotogrande, Spain. Yet, there are big stakes for the big names who are in attendance, namely a $1 million first-place check.

Fifty-five players, representing six major tours, will tee it up this week at the Valderrama Golf Club. Defending champion Tiger Woods, who can pass the $10 million mark in earnings with a win this week, heads this list of participants; however, he is one of the few top-ranking Americans to make the cross-Atlantic trip.

Tiger is the only U.S. player inside the top 15 on the official World Golf Ranking playing in the season finale. Phil Mickelson (ranked third in the world) is not here, neither is David Duval (fourth), nor Davis Love III (seventh), nor Hal Sutton (eighth), nor Tom Lehman (10th) nor Jim Furyk (15th).

Of the 13 players currently inside the top 50 in the World Ranking, 12 are U.S.-born. Australian Greg Norman (ranked 42nd) is the lone exception.

Still, Europe's best are competing this week; and truth be told, their participation should provide more excitement. While Tiger has already wrapped up every award and title imaginable on the PGA Tour, the European money race is still up for grabs.

Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke converse at ValderramaDarren Clarke currently leads Lee Westwood on the 2000 Volvo Order of Merit by roughly $90,000 - small change in a tournament worth $5 million. Overall, Ernie Els, Michael Campbell and even Colin Montgomerie have a chance to overtake Clarke in earnings by tournament's end.

Monty will have to win this week and hope for a major collapse by all those in front of him to retain the Order of Merit title for the eighth consecutive season, though he hardly seems optimistic.

'You've got to beat Tiger Woods, don't you? That is almost impossible,' said the Scot.

Clarke would tend to disagree, seeing as how he beat the world's No. 1-ranked player head-to-head in the World Golf Championship's first event of the year, the Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship.

'Monty says a lot of things,' said Clarke. 'Tiger's record speaks for itself, but he was expected to win (The Tour Championship) and he didn't quite manage it.'

Westwood is another player who has had success at Woods' expense. The Englishman bettered the American at this year's Deutsche Bank-SAP Open for his first title in 2000. A win this week and Westwood would set a European Tour record with seven victories in a single season.

'The Order of Merit is not something that concerns me that much,' said Westwood. 'Winning the tournament is what matters, because it would mean beating Tiger and giving me that record.'

While not top-heavy with Americans, there is a strong Spanish contingency at Valderrama. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez will be representing the host country.

Jimenez lost this event last year in a playoff with Woods. Since then, several changes have been made to the course known as the Augusta of Europe.

'If anything, the changes will help Tiger,' said Olazabal. 'They will favor his long game, even though the course is very narrow.'

Just what Tiger needs, another advantage.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.