At-home Hull forbidding family, friends from Woburn

By Randall MellJuly 27, 2016, 7:42 pm

WOBURN, England – Charley Hull dearly loves the childhood friends she still keeps so close, and that’s why she is practically forbidding them from coming to watch her play the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week.

That goes for her two sisters, too.

She doesn’t want them all roaming Woburn Golf Club this week. It doesn’t matter that Woburn, where Hull has been a member since she was 11, is only 40 minutes south of Kettering, where they all grew up.

“I don’t know why,” Hull says of her strong feelings.

That’s classic Hull, quixotic and honest to an endearing fault.

Hull, 20, the best female player in England today, the guileless starlet with the blonde locks and unfiltered opinions, is feeling a bit of pressure to perform as the showcase player with the Women’s British Open in her backyard.

Mostly, she says, she feels pressure to keep the life she has in this part of England separate from the life she lives as an LPGA pro.

“I just feel like my friends are my friends outside golf,” Hull said Wednesday, on the eve of the championship’s start. “I just don’t want them asking, 'So why did you hit that there? Or what does that mean, or what’s this?’

“I’ve had family come, and sometimes I try and distance myself. My sisters, especially, they don’t know much about golf. If I’ve had a bad round, they are like, 'Well, I could easily have holed that,’ or 'I could have done this.’ I’m like, 'Just be quiet.’

“I haven’t really got them coming this week. They might pop around in the evening, that’s it.”

If you weren’t there to hear Hull say that, if you don’t know Hull’s unaffected, unselfconscious persona, you might think that sounded mean. For Charley, it’s not. It’s seeing what’s important, the relationships, and how golf’s just not as important as this separate life she cherishes in this part of the world, the home she wants to shelter and protect from the insanity that golf can become on a world stage.

Hull confesses she’s feeling emotions this week she hasn’t felt in Solheim Cups or other major championships. On her 18th birthday, she signed a deal to represent Woburn as its touring pro, joining Ian Poulter in that function. So Hull wasn’t going to hide the challenges this week presents when media asked in her news conference.

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“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me this week, which is a bit annoying,” Hull said. “At the end of the day, it’s my home course, and it’s great to have it here. It will be nice to see all of the members come out and to have their support, because there are a great bunch of people here at Woburn. I always feel so welcome.”

At Woburn, Hull has her own parking space with her name on it, right behind Poulter’s. She owns a BMW X3, but she doesn’t have a driver’s license. She doesn’t drive yet. Her father uses the parking space to get her to the club, or to take the family’s new dog to the course to romp around the fairways.

Hull, seeking to make her first LPGA title a major breakthrough, is going to allow one friend to come watch her this week. That would be James Northern. He’s in construction in Kettering. He has played golf with Hull since she was 7 years old at Kettering Golf Club.

Northern became part of Hull’s story when she took the international stage so grandly at the 2013 Solheim Cup in Colorado, where at just 17 she famously whipped Paula Creamer and then asked Creamer for an autograph after.

Hull wasn’t asking for the autograph for herself. She wanted it for Northern, a Creamer fan, who asked if it might be possible.

Northern was at Woburn on Wednesday, on the range with Hull, watching her hit shots.

“That Solheim Cup was televised late over here, and I was half asleep when I saw Charley getting Paula to autograph a ball,” Northern said. “I replayed it, and I kind of laughed. It shocked me she actually did it. It was such a nice thing to do.”

That’s the Charley her friends know, the friends she escapes to to find the shelter of normal life.

“Charley’s won on [the Ladies European Tour],” said Dave, her father. “She’s made a few quid, but it hasn’t gotten in the way of who she is, whatsoever. She is a real person, a normal kid. She has these great friends here at home that she loves to be around, normal kids. They work in a bar or a bank, and when Charley has time off, she wants to be with them.”

When the madness of the Women’s British Open is over, Charley is going to take three of her girlfriends from Kettering to Ibiza, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. Hull is paying for the trip. She’s taken her friends there before.

“I’m more proud of Charley being a good kid with good manners than a good golfer,” Dave said.

Charley still lives with her parents, in the home she grew up, in a little village just outside Kettering. Dave bought the home when Charley was 3. He is a retired plasterer who guided his daughter in the game more than he steered her, after she found the game on her own. Dave didn’t know a lot about golf, but as he realized his daughter had special gifts, he got advice from people like Tony Jacklin, the two-time major championship winner from England.

Jacklin told Dave not to get Charley a regular caddie too early, to make her learn for herself all the things a good caddie would do for her. While Charley has swing coaches, Dave also encouraged her to learn her own swing, so she could fix herself.

“Some things are just common sense,” Dave said.

Charley is allowing her friend James to come watch her this week because he is her best golfing buddy from home. They still play together at Kettering Golf Club.

“James keeps me calm and relaxed and stuff,” Hull said.

James knows how quixotic Charley can sound, but he appreciates how that hasn’t really changed through all their years together.

“Charley is a little crazy, in a good way,” James said. “She is fun, she likes to laugh, and she doesn’t take things too seriously, which is a really good thing . . . Charley is Charley.”

All Charley’s friends know exactly what that means.

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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.