Worth the Wait

By Mercer BaggsMarch 10, 2002, 5:00 pm
When Matt Kuchar turned professional in 2000, many an observer believed it to be three years too late. Sunday in Coral Springs, Fla., he proved all doubters wrong by winning the Honda Classic.
 
Kuchar used a four-hole stretch of birdies on the back nine, and a series of saves coming home en route to shooting a final-round 6-under 66. The seasoned 23-year-old finished the event at 19-under-par 269, two shots clear of Joey Sindelar (70) and Brad Faxon (67).
 
I always knew it was the right decision, to stay in school, said Kuchar, who collected $630,000 in becoming the sixth first-time winner on tour this season, and the seventh to do so at this event.

Maybe those that second guessed me wont second guess anymore. (Thats) rewarding in itself.
 

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Heavy rain fell on the TPC at Heron Bay Thursday, leaving several players with more than 18 holes each of the next three days.
 
Mike Weir led the tournament, at 16-under, when the third round concluded Sunday morning. However, the left-handed Canadian wilted over his final nine holes, shooting 3-over 39 to finish tied for 11th. Weirs downfall came when he double bogeyed the par-4 10th after being forced to hit his second shot right-handed from the brush.
 
The leaderboard was convoluted throughout the final round. Kuchar rolled in a 12-foot birdie at the 13th to tie Sindelar for the lead at minus-17. He then stroked in another birdie ' his fourth in a row ' at the 14th to move one ahead.
 
The 14th marked the end of his birdie streak, but the beginning of a remarkable stretch of recoveries. He got up and down from the sand on holes 14-16, twice for birdie. He also saved par from a settled-down lie off the green at the 17th.
 
Trailing Kuchar by a shot, Sindelar fell two back when he made bogey ' his first of the tournament ' on the 71st hole.
 
Kuchar then sealed the tournament by saving par, once again, at the par-4 18th. After coming up short of the green with his approach, he raced his birdie effort 12 feet past the hole, against the collar. Undaunted, Kuchar nailed the putt for victory.
 
I wanted that putt really badly, he said. When that putt dropped, the rush I felt, I haven't felt that since the U.S. Amateur and the Masters.
 
Armed with a cemented smile and a lethal short-game, Kuchar won the 1997 U.S. Amateur Championship. He then ' to the surprise of many ' opted to return to college rather than turn pro and reap the million-dollar benefits befitting someone of his potential.
 
Following a couple of impressive showings in the 1998 Masters (T21) and U.S. Open (T14), Kuchars star dimmed. He wasnt even the top player on his Georgia Tech team ' that belonged to Bryce Molder - by his senior season.
 
In 2000, upon graduating with a degree in management, Kuchar finally shunned his amateur status. He made his professional debut in the Australian Open, and competed in one PGA Tour event, missing the cut at the Texas Open.
 
Playing on sponsors exemptions in 2001, Kuchar collected a pair of top-threes and $572,669 in 11 events, easily enough money to secure his 02 tour card.
 
Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

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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.

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.