Daddy's girl

By Randall MellNovember 15, 2011, 11:30 pm

Lexi Thompson’s mother was asked to divulge the secret.

How did her husband, Scott, nurture not just one golf prodigy, but three of them? What great plan did he follow as the primary coach in raising three gifted golf siblings?

“Scott’s never read a golf book or golf magazine,” Judy Thompson said.

Detecting the disbelief in the faces of a pair of reporters, Judy leaned over and tapped her husband’s shoulder, pulling him out of a conversation in the back of the CME Group Titleholders media room Tuesday at the Grand Cypress Resort.

“Scott, have you ever read a golf book?” Judy asked.

“No,” Scott said before quickly swiveling his head back to the other conversation.

Judy tapped him again.

“Scott, have you ever read a golf magazine?” Judy asked.

“No,” Scott said.

Scott, by the way, was once a single-digit handicap golfer, but he never considered himself a great player.

So what’s the family secret? How did Scott, as the first coach to Lexi, Nicholas and Curtis, draw out all this talent as they grew up in Coral Springs, Fla.?

His oldest son, Nicholas, 28, is at the second stage of Q-School this week, looking to return to the PGA Tour. Lexi, 16, won the Navistar Classic this summer to become the youngest winner in LPGA history. Curtis, 18, is a freshman on golf scholarship at LSU who might be the most talented of the trio.

“We made it fun,” Judy said. “Golf was never a chore. It was never, 'You have to go hit two pyramids of balls today at the range.' Scott always made it fun, with games, closest-to-the-pin contests. Scott never read a golf book or a golf magazine. It’s all come from the heart.”

Lexi is scheduled to tee it up Thursday at the CME Group Titleholders, the LPGA’s season-ending event. It’s her first start since she won at Navistar. With a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members be at least 18 years old, Thompson is set to join the LPGA as a full member next year.

“Having my dad on the bag [at Navistar], sharing the experience with me, it was everything I could ask for,” Lexi said.

Judy Thompson’s devotion can’t be overlooked in the family’s golf success, but she will tell you she’s pleased her husband, Scott, is back on Lexi’s bag as caddie this week, and that he plans to continue to caddie for her when she joins the tour as a member next year.

Scott made his money as a manufacturer of transformers. Today, he makes his living as an investor. Though Scott said he would ultimately like to turn caddie duties over to a professional, Lexi wants him on her bag now. And Scott will tell you he’s becoming less father and more caddie when he’s between the ropes.

“I’m dad about zero of the time when I’m out there now,” Scott said. “It’s a job.”

Scott has taken some criticism over the last year for not surrendering the caddie role to a pro, but he’s trying to approach the duties as a professional. Scott said he will ultimately find somebody to take over, but his daughter trusts him most right now. Scott’s in charge of yardages, helps her pull clubs, but he doesn’t read greens. And he doesn’t take a percentage of her winnings or a weekly salary for his caddie pay.

“I get my room and my meals paid for,” Scott said. “So, she saves money.

“She’s learning to make more decisions on her own out there. There are still times, under the heat of battle, where she’s not ready to pull that club. She is wanting my reinforcement, but she’s usually on cruise control. I’m just giving her yardages and hoofing with the bag. Not a whole lot of input from me anymore.”

The caddie/dad role was scrutinized in the spring at Avnet, where Lexi was the 54-hole leader but melted down at the 14th hole on Sunday. She hit a wedge in the water there on her way to a double bogey. She hit the wrong club.

“They beat me up a little bit about that,” Thompson said of media scrutiny. “I thought it was a little downwind. I told her to nuke a wedge. Really, I didn’t think about how she wasn’t hitting the ball solid all day. I was still thinking birdie, that we still have a chance and we have to birdie some holes coming in. I gave her a club I thought she could make birdie with, because I thought the other clubs would go long. She mishit it, it went on the bank and went back in the water . . .

“You learn, but it was painful.”

The lessons paid a dividend with the father/daughter combo winning at Navistar.

“We got pretty emotional,” Lexi said. “It’s a great memory I’ll never forget.”

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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 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.