Feng stole the show on Sunday in Naples

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2013, 11:22 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Shanshan Feng seems determined to awaken the sleeping giant in golf.

Feng won another big event Sunday to make her native China proud.

Feng, trying to inspire her homeland to love golf as much as she does, separated herself from a star-studded leaderboard with a fast start in the final round to win the CME Group Titleholders.

With four birdies over the first six holes at Tiburon, Feng took control early in the final round, posting a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 to beat Gerina Piller (69) by a single shot. At 15-under 273, Feng outplayed some of the biggest names in women's golf, pulling away from a jam-packed leaderboard that included Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis.

Feng, 24, relishes China’s emerging place in the game, and she’s giving her country reasons to take notice of the women’s game. She is the nation’s most decorated golfer. That’s three LPGA titles now in two seasons.

Feng is making every win something special.

A year ago, she broke through to win the Wegmans LPGA Championship, becoming the first man or woman from China to win a major championship in golf. Last month, she fashioned a storybook win, prevailing in the first LPGA event staged in mainland China with an eagle at the final hole. She beat Lewis in a final-round duel at the Reignwood Classic in Beijing. On Sunday at the CME Group Titleholders, Feng claimed the richest first-place check in women’s golf, taking home $700,000.

Winning in China, Feng said, emboldened her.

“It was magic when I won in China,” Feng said. “I got confidence back.”

Feng also might have stumbled upon some enchanting new ritual in Beijing. She dined with Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 4 So Yeon Ryu after the first round there and caught fire the rest of the way. She said she went to a barbecue where Ryu was staying on the eve of the CME Group Titleholders. Park was also there, and a few days later Feng ended up hoisting another trophy.

“I think from now on, every week, I’m going to call them and say, `Hey, can we have dinner together?’” Feng said.

This victory came down to the final hole, where Piller tried to force a playoff with some magic of her own. After pushing her tee shot at the final hole behind a small bush, Piller hit a towering 7-iron, muscling it over the bush to 10 feet.

Piller, seeking her first LPGA title, watched her birdie putt drift, just right of the hole, leaving Feng the winner.

“To come out and grind like I did, and give myself an opportunity to force a playoff, I’m pretty excited about that,” Piller said. “Shanshan is super consistent, and, obviously, she’s a major champion. So, hats off to her.”

Feng has worked with Gary Gilchrist as her coach since before she turned pro. He has helped her develop one of the most dependable swings in women's golf. She won Sunday despite a balky putter. She missed at least three birdie chances from point-blank range and still prevailed.

“That’s her ball striking,” said Mercer Leftwich, Feng’s caddie. “She is a phenomenal ball striker. It’s fun to watch, when she’s on.”

With the win, Feng will climb to No. 4 in the Rolex world rankings.

Feng said she isn’t sure what she will do with the $700,000.

“Maybe I’ll put it in the bank first, then think of what to get myself and my friends for Christmas,” she said. “I’m not a person that likes to spend money.”

What Feng likes is making China proud. The LPGA will play two tournaments in China next year. Details of the second will be announced in February.

“I like helping Chinese golf grow,” Feng said. “It’s my job. I want to promote golf in China. Hopefully, when we go back to China next year, we will have even more people watching and more time on TV.”

That might be the formula for awakening a sleeping giant.

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.

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.