Bunker Shots No Sleeping on World Cup

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2009, 10:36 pm

Blasting to China and the World Cup in a quiet week of tour golf . . .

The Americans will be trying to win for the first time in nine years at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in Shenzhen, China.

Two-man teams from 28 nations will tee it up in the 55th staging of the competition beginning Thursday (All four rounds air on Golf Channel Wednesday-Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET).

Nick Watney and John Merrick will represent the United States.

This event used to be a big deal for Americans. There have been some dynamic U.S. pairings over the years. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer teamed up to win it four times in the 1960s. Palmer and Sam Snead won it twice. Ben Hogan and Snead teamed to win it once. Nicklaus was a part of six victories, pairing up with Johnny Miller in a victory and Lee Trevino in another.

The most formidable duo might have been Fred Couples and Davis Love III, who teamed to win the World Cup four consecutive years (1992-95), the longest winning streak by a duo in the event’s history.

U.S. teams have won the World Cup 23 times, more than any other nation, but the Americans haven’t won it since 2000, when Tiger Woods paired with David Duval. Woods also won it in ’99 with Mark O’Meara.

With the nature of golf’s scheduling altered, the World Cup isn’t the priority it used to be. The fact that 11 Americans passed on the chance to play before Nick Watney accepted brings that point home. Woods, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Sean O’Hair, Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Ben Curtis all passed on chances. As the highest ranked American accepting, Watney got to pick his partner. The world rankings are used to set the top 18 teams in the field. China gets a team as the host. The rest of the nations played their way in through qualifying.

The format features fourballs (best ball) on Thursday and Saturday and foursomes (alternate shot) on Friday and Sunday. There’s $1.7 million as the payoff for the winners ($850,000 to each player).

Just three of the top 10 players in the world are competing with No. 7 Henrik Stenson, No. 8 Sergio Garcia and No. 10 Rory McIlroy in the field. Notably, McIlroy jumped into the top 10 for the first time with his third-place finish Sunday at the Dubai World Championship. He joins Garcia as the youngest players to have cracked the top 10. Garcia also was 20 when he first did it.

The Swedish team of Stenson and Robert Karlsson are defending champs. McIlroy is teaming with Graeme McDowell for Northern Ireland. Garcia will play with Spanish teammate Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano. England features the only tandem with both players among the top 20 in the world. No. 13 Ian Poulter and No. 20 Ross Fisher are paired.

Stance: With the PGA Tour season officially over, Q-School resuming next week for its final stage, the Race to Dubai complete and the LPGA season over, it’s the quietest week this year in tour golf. The World Cup isn’t what it used to be, a mere hors d’oeuvre on the golf plate this Thanksgiving week, but there are enough familiar names and a compelling format to keep us interested.

Takeaway: With so much attention sure to be focused on McIlroy, Watney gets another chance to distinguish himself as one of the game’s up-and-coming players, though he’ll need help from Merrick in this team format. When Watney won the Buick Invitational in February and followed up with a second-place finish to Mickelson at the WGC-CA Championship and a tie for fourth behind Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Watney looked ready to step up in class before cooling off the rest of the way. He had one top 10 after March on the PGA Tour season but warmed up with a fifth-place finish at the HSBC Champions in China two weeks ago.

Bunker shot: McIlroy didn’t win the Dubai World Championship last weekend or the Race to Dubai, but he finished off an impressive year in Europe and the United States. He won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this season, finished second in the Race to Dubai and logged top 10s at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. When you’re sorting the list of promising young talent, McIlroy has to sit at the top by virtue of his performances in the world’s biggest events.

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.