Changing of the Guard

By Randall MellOctober 3, 2010, 1:01 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Tiger Woods isn’t the best player in the world anymore, but he got to see his future successor close up Saturday at the Ryder Cup.

Lee Westwood looked Woods in the eye in the afternoon matches and showed him why he’s going to seize that unofficial title and Woods’ No. 1 world ranking before this year is out, maybe before this month is out.

Despite eight weeks on the bench recovering from a torn calf muscle, Westwood is in razor sharp form at Celtic Manor.

Westwood and Luke Donald are thrashing the American juggernaut in foursomes.

The European combo was leading Woods and Steve Stricker 4 up through nine holes when darkness fell and suspended the match. Woods and Stricker’s first loss as a team in international competition is imminent, and it threatens to tilt this Ryder Cup hard. 

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood is poised to overtake the world No. 1 ranking. (Getty Images)

Europe’s victory in this match promises to feel like more than a point. Stricker and Woods are unbeaten in international team events, 6-0 overall and 2-0 in this event. American captain Corey Pavin sent them out first to try to keep American momentum going after a strong morning foursomes showing, but Europe struck fast.

Westwood holed birdie putts at the first and second holes to put the Euros 2 up in advancing a charge that would see the Europeans ahead in all six matches when play was suspended.

“Lee Westwood is my top-ranked player, and has proved it, simple as that,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “He’s been unbelievable in the team room, in the locker room, on the range, on the course, some of the shots he hits.”

Westwood threatens to extend his Ryder Cup mastery over Woods. He’s 5-1 against Woods in the biennial matches, though they’ve never played in singles. A Sunday singles matchup would be perfect, but that will depend on fate with the captains filing their lineups without the benefit of seeing each other’s plan.

A head-to-head matchup might set up the changing of the guard this fall. Westwood, 37, a 20-time European Tour winner, is a man who appears on the rise. Woods is a man trying to regain confidence.

Despite eight weeks away recuperating, Westwood will make a major move in Monday’s new world ranking. European Tour officials who administer the rankings confirmed that Westwood will move to No. 2, bumping Phil Mickelson down to No. 3.

With Woods off his best form, and with no plans to play again until the HSBC Champions the first week of November, Westwood is positioned to overtake Woods. Westwood is scheduled to play the Alfred Dunhill Links next week and is likely to play the Portugal Masters the week after. Westwood can overtake Woods by finishing among the top 20 or better in both those events.

Westwood’s rise to No. 1 would generate some debate about whether he’s actually the world’s best player. Though he’s finished tied for third or better in four of the last five major championships he’s played, Westwood’s never won a major. He said not being able to play the PGA Championship in August and not being able to mount a run at the No. 1 ranking was difficult.

“Very very frustrating,” Westwood said at week’s start. “But at the same time, nobody's stepped up to the plate and grasped the bat and run with it really and gone away from me. I'm quite fortunate in that regard. I expected people around me to, especially with the tournaments that we have been playing, and with so many world ranking points available in the FedEx Cup, I expected to be further behind than I am. So I'm quite pleased with the position I'm still in.”

Despite his 2-0 mark with Stricker this week, Woods has struggled, especially in the Westwood-Donald match. While he’s improving in making over his swing with Sean Foley, he needs more time. Stricker’s hot putter has helped hide some of Woods’ shortcomings.

Westwood, on the other hand, has been rising to the occasion since the moment he took the first tee to hit the opening shot for the Europeans in this Ryder Cup. Westwood wanted the honor. He told Montgomerie so, and he striped that first shot down the middle. He wants the No. 1 world ranking, too. He’s telling Woods that with his play so far this week.

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.

Getty Images

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.