Bunker Shots Winner Jinx

By Randall MellSeptember 5, 2009, 6:55 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from Jinx-ville to the start of a “long” LPGA run and more  ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

St. Jude Classic

If you’re a superstitious caddie, you deliberately pull some wrong clubs this week.

Or give some bad yardages.

Or maybe stick a 15th club in the bag.

Anything to make sure your player doesn’t win.

For players wanting to hone their games to peak at next week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the St. Jude Classic should come with a warning: “Don’t win this week, fellas.” Nobody’s ever won the PGA Tour stop played the week before the U.S. Open and then gone on to win the U.S. Open. The Masters, the British Open and the PGA have all been won by winners the previous week.

Of course, any serious competitor relishes a chance to break the jinx, if there is one. And there are some ultra serious competitors in Memphis. Eight of the top 17 players in the world ranking are scheduled to tee it up at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

No. 3 Lee Westwood, No. 6 Ian Poulter and No. 10 Rory McIlroy lead a field that also includes No. 14 Padraig Harrington. Local favorite John Daly should also help fuel interest and sell tickets.

Bunker shot: The quality of this week’s field can’t hurt St. Jude’s Classic officials as they try to lure a new title sponsor. The 53-year-old tournament won’t continue without one. The event carries on with Smith & Nephew as a presenting sponsor and a syndicate of local sponsors coming together, but the future’s uncertain without a title sponsor to pony up the $6 million or so needed annually. Good news might be coming before the event even begins, but this week’s still a perfect example why the Tour needs that new “designated tournament” plan, or at least some proposal like it to help smaller events attract bigger stars. The field’s not an issue in Memphis this week, but some assurance that future fields will be equally strong won’t hurt tournaments like St. Jude’s in attracting or keeping their title sponsors.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Robert Allenby. Contender – Brian Gay. Darkhorse – Jason Dufner.

  • Course: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn. Par 70, 7,239 yards (designed by Ron Prichard and opened in 1987).
  • Purse: $5.6 million (winner’s share, $1,008,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last time: Brian Gay won wire to wire with rounds of 64, 66, 66 and 66.

LPGA

LPGA State Farm Classic
LPGA Tour _new

Entering the sixth month of the year, the LPGA has played seven official events.

With the spotty schedule to date, tour pros will finally get a chance to build some momentum this summer.

The LPGA State Farm Classic marks the first of five consecutive weeks of tournaments, the longest run of the season. In fact, there are events seven of the next eight weeks with three of them major championships (LPGA, U.S. Women’s Open, Ricoh Women’s British Open). A player who gets hot right now can lock down Rolex Player of the Year honors by the start of August.

Bunker shot: If the Americans are going to break their winless streak in official LPGA events this season (0-7), this is the time. This run of five consecutive weeks of LPGA events all come in the United States. Of course, it also looks like a good opportunity for the Far East to build on their 7-0 mark. Asians are defending champs in four of these next five events with a European the defending champ in the other.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Cristie Kerr. Contender – Jiyai Shin. Darkhorse – Shanshan Feng.

  • Course: Panther Creek Country Club, Springfield, Ill. Par 72, 6,746 yards (designed by Hale Irwin and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $1.7 million (winner’s share, $255,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last time: In-Kung Kim defeated Se Ri Pak by a shot.

EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European Tour

Estoril Open de Portugal

Not a single player in the top 80 in the world is scheduled to play.

Count Chris Wood at No. 81 as the highest ranked player in the field.

Bunker shot: Darren Clarke, 42, has fallen away from his top form, but at No. 24 on the European Ryder Cup Points list he’ll be looking to move up and give himself a shot at making the team for the sixth time after missing the matches in ’08. Clarke was disheartened when he wasn’t made a captain’s pick last time around despite winning twice that season. He would rather not rely on a captain’s favor this year. Europe was 4-1 when Clarke played. He is looking for his 13th European Tour victory.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Darren Clarke. Contender – Marcus Fraser. Darkhorse – Robert Rock.


CURTIS CUP

2010 Curtis Cup The United States will be seeking its seventh consecutive victory against Great Britain/Ireland in this biennial team event.

American Alexis Thompson was a year old the last time the Americans lost. That was 1996, when current LPGA standout Karen Stupples led GB&I to victory in Ireland. The Americans lead the overall series 26-6-3.

The future of American golf will be on display in Massachusetts beginning Friday. Thompson, the ’08 U.S. Girls’ Junior champ, was 12 when she became the youngest player to qualify for a U.S. Women’s Open. Kimberly Kim was 14 when she became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Jennifer Song, won both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships last year.

Noreen Mohler, of Bethlehem, Pa., is the American captain and member of the winning USA team in 1978. Ireland’s Mary McKenna, who played in nine Curtis Cups, leads the GB&I team for a second straight event.

Bunker shot: Song, 20, will turn pro after the Curtis Cup, but there’s more focus on Thompson making make her final amateur appearance because of her age. Thompson, 15, is scheduled to make her pro debut next week, playing the LPGA Shoprite Classic on a sponsor’s exemption. LPGA pros will be watching more than Thompson’s game next week. They’ll be watching to see how she handles the rigors and disappointments of professional golf and what it does to a player emotionally. To be sure, her junior career has been riddled with fewer disappointments than most juniors experience and she’ll enjoy the rewards of that terrific career in her first and last Curtis Cup. After that, golf will get to see what this young phenom is like as a money player. More than one observer believes she’s the future of American women’s golf.

Mell’s pick: USA 13-7.

  • Course: Essex County Club, Manchester, Mass. Par 70, 6,247 yards (Built in 1893 as a nine-hole course, redesigned and expanded by Donald Ross after his arrival as club professional in 1910).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday-Saturday, 11-1 p.m.; Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • Last time: Stacy Lewis went 5-0 to lead the Americans to a 13-7 victory at the Old Course in St. Andrews.
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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.