All-Americans

By Randall MellOctober 12, 2009, 2:39 am
Presidents Cup

SAN FRANCISCO – The Internationals never had a chance.

 That’s what it sounded like in the aftermath of the United States’ 19 ½ to 14 ½ Presidents Cup victory Sunday at Harding Park.

There were intangible forces almost as formidable as an American team stacked with the top three players in the world.

There was Michael Jordan’s motivational speech before the United States took the turf Sunday, and there was captain Fred Couples’ highly unusual incentive-laden game plan and there was a boisterous home crowd nastier than your average Ryder Cup crowd.

Hunter Mahan Camilo Villegas Presidents Cup
Hunter Mahan defeated Camilo Villegas 2 and 1 during Sunday's singles matches at Harding Park. (Getty Images)

Couples said his players were moved by Jordan’s speech, but they were equally moved knowing they were playing for a chance to claim one of the NBA Hall of Famer’s jerseys from his days with the Chicago Bulls.

Couples let players know MVP efforts would be rewarded with the presentation of four of Jordan’s official game jerseys.

Woods, Stricker and Anthony Kim ended up walking away with one. So did Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, who made a surprise appearance at the team dinner Saturday night.

As motivation goes, Couples said it was highly effective. The Jordan jerseys were like gold. Everyone wanted one.

The Internationals might have found the prizes fitting. They complained that the American crowds were about as well behaved as an NBA crowd.

“If you walked around and heard some of the stuff, you would be amazed,” Norman said.

Robert Allenby of the Internationals was more specific about the nature of the crowds.

“I would say 50 guys got thrown out this week for bad attitudes,” he said. “It was like playing a U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.

“There were a lot of people saying things like, `You guys [stink]’ That was nothing. There was swearing.

“The police were really good, though. They went straight to them and handcuffed them.”

How often did Allenby see that?

“More than once,” he said.

And then there was the American team.

Woods, Phil Mickelson and Stricker lived up to their billing as the top three players in the world rankings. They combined to lose just one match all week, Stricker’s fall to Geoff Ogilvy in singles.

The effort leads you to believe we may be on the verge of another golden era in American golf.

Apologies to Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and players of their generations, but we’re talking American team golf.

With Sunday’s victory, the Americans ran their streak of international team victories to three straight.

OK, it barely qualifies as a streak, but since the Presidents Cup joined the Ryder Cup in the team mix in 1994, that’s never happened before. The Americans had never won more than two in a row before this run. For a bunch of players who not so long ago were skewered for being uninterested in this team thing, they’re looking an awful lot like a dynasty in the making.

Head’s up, Europe. You’re next with the Ryder Cup scheduled in Wales next year.

Corey Pavin, the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, had to like what he saw on his scouting trip here this week.

The Americans didn’t just win. They ran up the score.

The victory came in a flurry of knockouts.

The Americans needed just five of the 12 points available in singles Sunday to secure the victory, and they got the first four of them in convincing fashion before the Internationals gained their first point. This thing was over with half the matches still in progress.

Bam, boom, bam, boom, bam.

It was nearly that quick.

In fitting fashion, Woods claimed the winning point with the most personally satisfying victory of the day to run his record to 5-0 for the week.

Woods thrashed Y.E. Yang 6 and 5 nine weeks after Yang beat him in a head-to-head Sunday duel to win the PGA Championship.

It wasn’t that long ago when the Americans were criticized for not embracing these team competitions, for dreading the annual events and all the responsibilities that came with them. They were considered too self-centered to care about melding as a unit. The low point was their loss at Oakland Hills in 2004, when American captain Hal Sutton controversially paired Woods and Mickelson, the Nos. 1-2 players in the world. The lack of chemistry was palpable and seemed to prove the point that America’s best tour pros were incompatible as teammates.

The Americans proved something whipping the Europeans without Woods at Valhalla in the Ryder Cup last year. Captain Paul Azinger made team chemistry a strength with his popular pod system where he paired players in four-man community pods. The Americans proved something again this week with Woods looking like he could fit into any pod while playing better than he’s ever played in a team event.

The Woods-Stricker pairing overwhelmed the Internationals. They went 4-0 together.

“It was a fun thing to have Tiger and Steve beat up on everybody,” Couples said. “Every tournament Tiger plays, everyone wants to know what he’s shooting and where he’s at. The Presidents Cup is no different. So for him and Steve to win every match, we basically shut their team down from saying, `Hey, we have them where we want them.’ They won every time, and I think that was a boost for us.”

It made it feel like the Internationals never had a chance.

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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.