Hot Seat: Playing with matches

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2012, 2:46 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Feeling flush? It’s no wonder. The heat’s rising in the desert with the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship outside Tucson this week.

With players taking their places on golf’s Hot Seat, here’s our special heat index for the Match Play extravaganza and the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore:

Vulcan’s fire salt – Tiger Woods

Woods is on the climb, but his final-round Sunday stumbles at Pebble Beach and Abu Dhabi give pause.

What’s still missing? Is it just more time with the swing, or is there still an internal short circuit? Or is the putting stroke just not as reliable anymore?

The Accenture Match Play Championship should further illuminate because Woods normally thrives in the format. This might be just the tonic he needs to snap all the pieces back together. He won those three consecutive U.S. Juniors, those three consecutive U.S. Amateurs, and he has won this Match Play Championship three times. He is a staggering 32-8 in the Match Play Championship but is coming off a first-round elimination to Thomas Bjorn last year. Woods faces a first-time Accenture qualifier, Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano, who heaped proper respect on Woods while calling him “beatable.”

Luke Donald in the Northern Trust Open first round

Cayenne pepper – Luke Donald

The world No. 1 and defending champ, Donald got his run toward the top spot rolling by winning the Match Play title last year.

In breezing through six matches in ’11, Donald finished off all his foes before reaching the 18th green. He has won eight of his last nine matches in this event, and in his seven years in it, he has never been eliminated in the first round.

Donald, who meets former world No. 1 Ernie Els, is off to a sluggish start this season, tying for 48th in his European Tour debut at Abu Dhabi and tying for 58th in his first PGA Tour start at the Northern Trust Open last week. That start leaves him vulnerable to his closest world-ranking pursuers. No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood can overtake him for the top spot with victories this week. If McIlroy wins, Donald must reach the third round to hold his No. 1 ranking. If Westwood wins, Donald must reach the quarterfinals.

Ernie Els

Crushed caribe pepper flakes – Ernie Els

The Masters is seven weeks away, and Els has yet to qualify. He has played every Masters since 1994, finishing second twice (2000, ’04) among his six top-10 finishes. At 42, Els wants desperately to get back to Augusta National, but he must win one of the next six PGA Tour events to earn an invite, or play well enough to climb into the top 50 in the world rankings released the week before the Masters. Els is now ranked No. 68, but a strong finish this week will move him up. If he can make it to this week's finals, it's enough to push him into the top 50 as early as next week. With top-ranked Donald his first-round opponent, Els has hard work ahead. Els sports an overall 10-11 record in this event with four first-round eliminations.

Yani Tseng

Ghost peppers – Everybody but Yani Tseng playing HSBC Women’s Champions

Tseng needed just two starts to win again in this young LPGA season. Coming off 12 victories worldwide last season, Tseng will soon be rolling toward LPGA Hall of Fame qualification at just 23 years old. Who’s going to stop her from dominating again? That's the question for the rest of the LPGA. Tseng already has 21 Hall of Fame points, just six short of qualification. 

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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.