Bunker Shots Are birdies galore enough at the Bob Hope Classic
'Cancel My Reservation' was one of the more than 60 movies Bob Hope made in his lifetime.
Of all his films, that title might best describe what is becoming the theme of the golf tournament that bears his name.
Hope was such a giant star in his time, but his tournament is mostly starless this week in LaQuinta, Calif.
Mike Weir is the highest ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking scheduled to play when action begins Wednesday. He’s No. 37.
Even Anthony Kim, who can call this a hometown event as a LaQuinta High graduate, is passing this week to play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Ouch. There’s appearance money to be collected at Abu Dhabi, where such advantages show in the strength of that event’s field. Abu Dhabi’s the tournament to watch this week with five of the top 10 in the world competing and eight of the top 14.
Stance: The Bob Hope Classic’s days feel numbered with the PGA Tour looking for a new title sponsor with Chrysler out. It marks the first time since 1984 the tournament will be staged without a title sponsor. Arnold Palmer couldn’t revive interest returning in a temporary role as host of the 50th anniversary last year. Phil Mickelson, a West Coast guy who has more than met requirements playing there over the years, is avoiding the event for a third straight season. Kim’s decision to skip a tournament in his backyard might be remembered as the last nail in the coffin if this event doesn’t survive. The celebrity format with amateur partners obviously isn’t as popular with players anymore. The decision to bring in Yogi Berra as host was curious. He’s a beloved Yankee Hall of Famer, but he’s 84 years old and. The event could use some radically fresh, vibrant ideas to hold off the growing popularity of the European Tour’s Middle East swing. Justin Timberlake’s fall series event in Las Vegas would love to move among golf’s main events.
Takeaway: David Duval makes his first PGA Tour start of the season this week on a sponsor’s exemption after failing to keep his fully exempt status last season. The Hope is where he shot 59 in the final round in 1999 to win. If there’s still some magic in him, this might be the place to find it, though it’s an upset if he actually contends there. Duval has missed the cut at the Bob Hope the last two seasons and said his terrific run at the U.S. Open last year might be due to the fact that he’s better suited now for tough setups than birdie fests. Duval shot three 68s and a 70 at the Hope and still missed the cut last year.
Bunker shot: If you like birdie fests, you haven’t tired of the Bob Hope Classic. If you’re waiting for the Tour’s next 59, or maybe its first 58, this is still an event for you. Pat Perez won at 33-under last year. Joe Durant’s 36-under total in ’01 remains the lowest score in PGA Tour history. It’s five rounds and 90 holes of attack-style golf.
Abu Dhabi Championship
Five of the top-10 players in the world rankings are scheduled to play the European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates beginning Thursday.
Geoff Ogilvy, winner of the PGA Tour’s season opening SBS Championship, is in the field. So is Lee Westwood, winner of the inaugural Race to Dubai last season. Paul Casey’s back as defending champion looking to prove he’s recovered from the rib injury that derailed his impressive start last season.
Expect some Ryder Cup buzz with European captain Colin Montgomerie making his first start of 2010.
Stance: South African Charl Schwartzel was entered with a chance to become the first player since Seve Ballesteros (1986) to win three consecutive European Tour events, but Schwartzel announced Monday that he was withdrawing to rest. He’ll try to win his third consecutive start when he tees it up at the Qatar Masters next week.
Takeaway: There are appealing storylines with Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas, Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter among international stars making their 2010 debuts this week. Garcia and Villegas are looking to rebound from drop offs last season with McIlroy and Poulter looking to build on momentum gained last season.
Bunker shot: Westwood opens the 2010 season as the highest ranked international player in the world at No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but is he even Europe’s best player? Northern Ireland’s Padraig Harrington looks eager to add to his three major championship triumphs before Westwood reaches his first. Though Westwood seems like he’s been around forever, he’s only 36, which is a golfer’s prime. He climbed to No. 4 in the world a decade ago, but he fell into such a demoralizing slump he tumbled to No. 246 before fighting his way back. The Englishman held off McIlroy to win the Race to Dubai last season. Optimism that Westwood might be ready for a major championship breakthrough can be found in his record. He has three third-place finishes in majors over the last two years. He was third at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in ‘08, and he tied for third in both the British Open at Turnberry and the PGA Championship at Hazeltine last year.
Mitsubishi Electric Championship
Fred Couples makes his highly anticipated debut in an official Champions Tour event Friday at the Hualalai Resort in Hawaii. So does U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin.
If you’re looking for big names to watch, there will be more of them there than at the Bob Hope Classic.
Tom Watson, Gary Player, Bernhard Langer, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price are among those in the 36-player field.
Stance: With Jack Nicklaus teaming with Watson to win the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game last weekend, the Champions Tour season got off to a special start. It was fitting that a Palmer (Ryan, that is) won the same weekend in Hawaii on the PGA Tour.
Takeaway: Bernhard Langer is back as defending champion with Loren Roberts looking to make a strong start on a bid to win back-to-back Charles Schwab Cup titles. If Roberts pulls that off at year’s end, he’ll have claimed the season points title three of the last four years.
Bunker shot: The Champions Tour will never rival the PGA Tour’s popularity, but there’s a real chance to elevate interest with Couples in the mix. He’s still a major draw who can win headlines and highlights the Champions Tour wouldn’t otherwise get should he become a force on the senior circuit. The big question is whether his back will hold up as he looks to play both the Champions Tour and PGA Tour this year before dedicating himself more heavily to the Champions Tour next year.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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.