Bunker Shots Big Expectations - COPIED

By Randall MellJune 17, 2010, 4:57 am

Blasting into the week ahead, from the rocky shores of Stillwater Cove to an LPGA resurrection and John Daly’s return to his roots.

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

U.S. Open

No U.S. Open has seemed this wide open since Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour almost 14 years ago.

There are lots of potentially good stories this week with Phil Mickelson trying to avoid a record six second-place finishes in this championship and claim his first U.S. Open title on a course he’s won on three times. The question with Mickelson is whether the outcome will be determined by another bold play that spurs him on to victory like his shot through the trees and off the pine straw did at the 13th hole in his Masters’ victory last April. Or if another gambles backfires, like it did when he hit the tree at the final hole at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open, when he tried to recover from bouncing a shot off the hospitality tent by carving an escape around that tree. Of course, there’s Woods’ bid to shake his poor form and remember his greatness on a course where he’s never been greater. His record 15-shot rout in the 2000 U.S. Open was the most dominant golf performance ever. And there’s England’s Lee Westwood, hot off last week’s victory at the St. Jude Classic, vying to become the first European to win the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin 40 years ago.

Bunker shot: Ernie Els is tough to figure, but there’s reason to believe the time’s right for him to claim his fourth major, his third U.S. Open. That’s if his head’s right. After winning twice in March, Els beat himself up for his failure at the Masters. You can almost see when he wants that next major too much and presses too hard. With Woods off his game, Els knows better than anyone what opportunity beckons. He finished second to Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000. U.S. Opens are all about patience, but it’s hard to be patient when you’ve been waiting so long for a chance like this. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ernie Els. Contender – Luke Donald. Darkhorse – David Duval.

  • Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif. Par 71, 7,040 yards (Originally designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and opened in 1919).
  • Purse: $7.5 million (winner’s share, $1,350,000).
  • TV Times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN, 1-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m., NBC, 3-5 p.m. Saturday, NBC, 4:30-11 p.m. Sunday, NBC 3-9 p.m.
  • Last time: At 4-under 276, Lucas Glover finished a shot ahead of Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes at Bethpage Black.

    LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

Shoprite LPGA Classic

Three years out of business, the Shoprite LPGA Classic makes its comeback.

A dispute over tournament fees and dates between former commissioner Carolyn Bivens and the tournament owners led to the event closing its doors.

Shoprite’s return provides hope that the LPGA will rebuild and return to a fuller schedule.

Bunker Shot: Two developments add sparks this week. Paula Creamer is expected to make her return from thumb surgery after missing nearly the entire season with the injury, and 15-year-old Alexis Thompson is making her professional debut. The Americans broke through for their first victory in an official event this season with Cristie Kerr’s victory at the LPGA State Farm Classic last week. Creamer and Thompson bring ambitions for more future American success.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Seon Hwa Lee. Darkhorse – Juli Inkster..

  • Course: Dolce Seaview Resort’s Bay Course, Galloway, N.J. Par 71, 6,150 yards (Designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1915).
  • Purse: $1.5 million (winner’s share, $225,000).
  • TV Times: Golf Channel, Friday, 3-6 p.m.; Saturday, 4:30-7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last time: Back in 2006, Seon Hwa Lee defeated Annikas Sorenstam, Juli Inkster, Sherri Steinhauer and Jeong Jang by three shots.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Fort Smith Classic

Tommy Gainey leaped 16 spots to No. 2 on the Nationwide Tour money list with his breakthrough victory in his last start..

Kevin Chappel still leads the money list, $6,300 ahead of Gainey.

Bunker shot: John Daly’s the headliner this week as he makes his first Nationwide Tour start since 1991. Daly’s a former Razorback who played at the University of Arkansas and is a favorite son in his home state. His star power goes beyond golf this week. He’s scheduled to join country western star Charlie Daniels on stage in a free concert after the first round. Tournament officials expect record attendance and record charitable fundraising with Daly in the mix.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappel. Contender – John Daly. Darkhorse – Jason Enloe.

  • Course: Hardscrabble Country Club, Fort Smith, Ark. Par  70, 6,783 yards (Designed by Perry Maxwell and opened in 1927).
  • Purse: $525,000 (Winner’s share, $94,500).
  • TV Times: No TV.
  • Last time: Jason Enloe defeated Chris Tidland in a playoff.

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.