Hot Seat: Britches, boxers and briefs

By Randall MellMay 1, 2012, 6:26 pm

The Hot Seat’s back and Luke Donald (despite not playing), Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood are all on it at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

Here’s our special heat index for gauging who is facing the most pressure to perform this week:

Smokin’ britches – Luke McIlroy

Or maybe that should be Rory Donald.

Whatever, Donald and McIlroy have been interchangeable pieces atop the Official World Golf Ranking since late February. Donald got the top spot back this week. The two have exchanged the No. 1 ranking four times in the last 10 weeks, and it’s possible they’ll do it again when the last putt drops at the Wells Fargo Championship.

At least McIlroy will have something to say about what happens with the world rankings while actually on the golf course this week. Since the Masters, he has gained and lost the world’s top spot without getting off his couch, so to speak. McIlroy is coming out of rest mode and ought to be fresh. He has played just one event in the last seven weeks, but he will be busy now. McIlroy is scheduled to tee it up in four of the next five weeks before taking a week off and then defending his title at the U.S. Open.

Donald, meanwhile, is taking the week off after playing two of the last three tournaments, including a third-place showing in New Orleans which helped him reclaim the No. 1 ranking.

Blazing briefs – Lee Westwood

The Englishman arrives for the Wells Fargo at No. 3 in the world and looking for a chance to climb back to the top spot. With loads of world-ranking points up for grabs this week and at next week’s Players Championship, Westwood can make a serious move to get back in the musical chairs rotation atop the world rankings.

Westwood is looking for his first PGA Tour or European Tour victory since the Ballantine’s Championship more than a year ago, but he’s showing good form this year with four finishes of fourth or better and a victory at the Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour.

Westwood held the No. 1 ranking for 22 weeks in late 2010 and in early 2011.

Toasty boxers – Phil Mickelson

Mickelson is back in action for the first time since Bubba Watson displaced him as the hottest “Lefty” in the world by winning the Masters.

This year, for the first time in forever, it seems, Mickelson isn’t the highest ranked “Lefty” in the game.

With Mickelson showing good form this year, he’s among the favorites at Quail Hollow, a venue where he has looked comfortable contending. Mickelson has finished top four in four of his last six starts, with a victory (AT&T Pebble Beach) in that mix. If not for one wayward tee shot in the final round of the Masters, he might have two victories in that mix. Mickelson takes momentum to Quail Hollow, where he has finished top 10 the last three years, including a second two years ago.

Sizzling back side – Green Mile

The 16th, 17th and 18th holes at Quail Hollow, dubbed the Green Mile, were ranked the three toughest finishing holes on the PGA Tour in 2009 and 2010, but the trio slumped to No. 3 last year with Atlanta Athletic Club’s test at the PGA Championship taking the top spot. It marked the first time since 2003 that Quail Hollow’s finishing holes weren’t No. 1 or No. 2 in difficulty on the PGA Tour.

Unless there is some challenging weather, don’t expect the trio to seize back its title as the toughest finishing holes this year. Quail Hollow and PGA Tour officials have decided to use the left tee boxes at the 17th all four days of the tournament, choosing to stay away from the right tees that make that long par 3 so much more difficult. The left tees play between 190 and 205 yards, the right tees play up to 217 yards. Given the slope of the green, the left tees offer much more receptive shots, a change that should please players.

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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.