Harrington survives PGA National's water torture

By Randall MellMarch 2, 2015, 7:13 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thrills and spills defined Monday’s wild finish to the Honda Classic.

The final thrill was Padraig Harrington’s, the final spill Daniel Berger’s.

In a punishing conclusion at PGA National, where every contender seemed to need a life preserver in a sink-or-swim final round that extended over two grueling days, Harrington emerged the winner, beating Berger with a par at the second hole of their sudden-death playoff.

Harrington, 43, survived a five-day marathon of weather-delayed golf to claim his first PGA Tour title since the PGA Championship in 2008. He did so after Berger’s tee shot at the 17th hole in the Bear Trap sailed right, splashing down in the moat guarding that hole. Harrington won with a two-putt after stiffing a 5-iron to 3 feet, becoming the first player to win a PGA Tour event on a sponsor exemption since Lee Westwood won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2010.


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There was something cruelly apropos about this all ending with one last splashdown, because all that water around the Champion Course was such a large factor in the finish.

Ian Poulter took a share of the lead into the final round and then hit five balls in the water, still somehow managing to finish tied for third, a shot out of the playoff.

“It makes you feel pretty sick,” Poulter said. “I’ve handed one away, and it hurts.”

Patrick Reed held a share of the lead going to the 15th tee before – kerplunk – pushing his tee shot in the water there.

“It was a rough day,” Reed said.

Even Harrington was a bit waterlogged entering the playoff. He looked like he had this event won in regulation, taking a one-shot lead to the 71st hole before slicing his tee shot in the water. He needed to hole a clutch 15-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole to go to extra holes with Berger, who closed hard and early with a 64.

“It’s hard to be the leader on this golf course,” Harrington said. “Just like it’s hard to be the leader in a major.”

How difficult did all the trouble make the Sunday/Monday finish? Harrington made two double bogeys in the final round and still won. He was five shots down with eight holes to play. Berger was nine shots back beginning the final round.

Harrington resumed the suspended final round at the eighth tee. In the end, he hit the shots he needed to win.

“I never have trouble hitting a big shot at a big time,” Harrington said.

Harrington needed a big shot to regain some relevancy in the game. Once ranked No. 3 in the world, he entered this week No. 297. He wasn’t eligible for last year’s Masters, and wasn’t this year, not until this victory. His exempt PGA Tour status also ran out this year. He has been playing the Tour on sponsor invites and as a past champion.

“There are no doubt low points in those years, because you know, in 2008, 2009, I'm very much in the penthouse,” Harrington said. “I wasn't quite down to the doghouse, but not far away from it.”

This was Harrington’s 30th worldwide title, his sixth PGA Tour victory, his second Honda Classic title, coming 10 years after his first.

Berger, a 21-year-old rookie from nearby Jupiter, finished the final round brilliantly, closing with back-to-back birdies to shoot 64. He missed a 13-foot birdie chance to win on the first playoff hole at No. 18.

“If you told me I was going to finish solo second when the week started, I'd probably take it,” Berger said. “Right now, not as happy as I wish I was. But it's just a good learning experience.”

Berger, the son of former tennis pro Jay Berger, a three-time ATP winner, saw a chance to play in his first Masters sink to the bottom of the lake along with his ball at No. 17 in the playoff. It was a disheartening finish for locals rooting for Berger, who grew up driving the range picker while working at Dye Preserve.

“I think this week shows, with the depth of the field and how many great players there are, that I can compete with the best in the world,” Berger said. “I know this won't be the last chance that I have to win, so just look at it like that.”

While Harrington relishes regaining exempt status and returning to the Masters, he isn’t allowing himself to dwell on that quite yet.

“A lot of things are being said about what this means going forward,” Harrington said. “The one thing you learn is you don't win as often as you think. I'm just enjoying winning the Honda Classic.”

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.

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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.