Jeff Flagg Outlasts Competition to Win 2014 RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship

By Golf Channel Public RelationsNovember 5, 2014, 6:20 pm

It was a night of inches on Golf Channel, and Jeff Flagg, 29, of Pelham, Ala., got the 13 extra he needed Tuesday to win the 2014 RE/MAX World Drive Championship, along with the coveted championship belt and winner-take-all $250,000.

Tied at 365 yards after their requisite six drives in the championship match, Flagg and 43-year-old Jeff Crittenden of Greensboro, N.C., waited anxiously for an exact measurement to the inch that would break the tie and determine who would be the ultimate winner.  Flagg’s drive bested Crittenden by a mere 13 inches, which proved to be the shortest margin of victory in the history of the RE/MAX World Drive Championship competition.

“I thought I had him,” said Flagg, “but if there’s anything I learned from baseball is that you can’t get to high or too low until it’s a done deal.” Flagg took up long driving after a baseball career at Mississippi State University (where he was teammates with fellow Las Vegas 8 competitor Connor Powers) and with the New York Mets organization.

Speed and power were on display in front of a packed audience during the two-hour, live finale, which aired on Golf Channel from a custom-made competition set at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.  Eight finalists – the Las Vegas 8 – competed in head-to-head matches requiring all to conquer the conditions in attempts to hit drives requiring both distance and accuracy.  Of the total seven head-to-head matches, five were decided by two yards or less.

Crosswinds and crisp temperatures created a challenging environment, making it difficult for all players to hit the grid or reach the distances to which they have become accustomed.  Headlining the field of eight heading into the night were returning former champions Joe Miller of London, England, and Jamie Sadlowski of St. Paul, Alberta, Canada, who faced off early in the telecast.  The other competitors included:  Daniel Beckman, Fresno, Calif.; Matt Hanger, Anaheim, Calif.;  Connor Powers, Naperville, Ill.; and Adam Smith, Tomball, Texas.

The RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship identifies the longest golfer on earth and offers sports fans a chance to witness players who generate mammoth swing speeds of 150 mph and ball speeds of 220 mph. In comparison, the highest average swing speed on the PGA TOUR last season was 124 mph generated by Bubba Watson. His fastest swing of the year was 127 mph.  Long drive athletes train and prepare all year for the chance to take a swing at becoming the World Long Drive Champion. Specialized training allows long drive athletes to generate maximum ball and swing speeds, and focus solely on maximizing distance during competition.  The golf equipment used in Long Drive competition conforms to regulations for all golfers set forth by the United States Golf Association.

Flagg said he was humbled by the experience and hopes to be an ambassador for the sport of long drive.  He celebrated with members of his family and girlfriend who traveled to Las Vegas for the competition.

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.