Bunker Shots Slumps and Swoons

By Randall MellSeptember 21, 2010, 8:00 pm
Blasting into the week ahead, from the search for meaning beyond Tiger’s swoon to Fred Couples’ “slump' ...


The Tour Championship

PGA Tour (75x100)

Down to the FedEx Cup’s final event, we’re still trying to make sense of this season.

Through 40 events, it’s a year that remains out of focus.

We head to Atlanta this week looking for more than somebody to step up and claim the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot and possibly PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. We go to East Lake looking for someone to step through the fog and give this season some meaningful definition with a final statement. There are possibilities. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson could make prominent marks on 2010 with closing victories.

Of course, we may not get a theme that ties this crazy season together at all. This may be destined to be remembered primarily as the Year of Tiger’s Swoon, a year that the Woods’ story towered over, even as he failed to win a single event. It may be destined to be remembered as a year that nobody moved with authority into Tiger’s winless void.

Bunker shot: Win a major, it’s a good year. Win a major while also claiming the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, PGA Tour Player of the Year honors and the No. 1 world ranking, and all of a sudden it feels like a fabulous year. All of that’s still possible for Mickelson to claim despite the disappointments wedged into his season. Two big weeks in his year could trump everything.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Steve Stricker. Contender – Phil Mickelson. Darkhorse – Adam Scott.

  • Course: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga. Par 70, 7,154 yards.
  • Purse: $7.5 million (winner’s share, $1,350,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 1-6 p.m. Saturday – Golf Channel, 10 a.m.-noon; NBC, noon-3:30 p.m. Sunday – Golf Channel, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; NBC, 1:30-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Phil Mickelson closed with a 65, beating runner up Tiger Woods by three shots. Woods, though, claimed the FedEx Cup.


Champions Tour
SAS Championship

Fred Couples will be looking to snap his “slump” this week.

Couples is enjoying a terrific rookie season on the Champions Tour. He’s finished third or better in seven of his 12 starts. He has won three times, but he’s looking for his first victory in nearly six months.

Bunker shot: With five victories and two major championships, Bernhard Langer is looking like he’s the best player in the over-50 circuit yet again in his third season on Tour. He takes on Couples and all challengers once more this week as he seeks to build on his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Tom Pernice Jr. Darkhorse – Olin Browne.

  • Course: Prestonwood Country Club, Cary, N.C. Par 72, 7,137 yards.
  • Purse: $2.1 million (Winner’s share, $315,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel – Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday – 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Sunday – 7-9:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Tom Pernice Jr. won his debut on the Champions Tour, making birdie at the final hole to defeat Nick Price and David Frost by a shot.


WNB Golf Classic

Nationwide Tour

Just six events remain for players to crack the final top-25 money list and earn PGA Tour cards for the 2011 season.

Jamie Lovemark is the leading money winner with $416,669 in earnings, less than $10,000 ahead of Chris Kirk.

Bunker shot: It’s that time of the year. It’s Bubble Boy Season. Brian Smock is this week’s Bubble Boy at No. 25 on the money list, $3,859 ahead of Dicky Pride. But with Nationwide Tour money weighted heavily toward the top finishers, players can make large leaps with victories this week. In fact, players all the way down to No. 92 Josh Broadaway can leap into the top 25 with victories this week, though Broadaway can’t actually do it. He isn’t listed among players in this week’s field.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Hunter Haas. Contender – Martin Piller. Darkhorse – J.J. Killeen.

  • Course: Midland Country Club, Midland/Odessa, Texas. Par 72, 7,354 yards.
  • Purse: $525,000 (Winner’s share, $94,500).
  • TV times: No TV.
  • Last year: Garrett Willis had to rally in the final round with Chad Collins closing with a 62, but Willis did just that, winning by a shot.

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.

Getty Images

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.