Lewis poised to end victory drought

By Randall MellJanuary 30, 2016, 11:55 pm

Stacy Lewis isn’t wasting any time trying to end her drought.

With a 6-under-par 67 Saturday at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic, Lewis moved one shot off the lead at the Ocean Club on Paradise Island in the LPGA’s season opener. She’s looking to win for the first time in her last 40 starts.

Lewis, who is seeking her 12th LPGA title, said the most difficult part of going winless last year was being asked about not winning in so many post-round interviews.

Of course, Lewis was asked after Saturday’s round about how she felt being in position to win for the first time since she claimed the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship 18 months ago.

“My goal this week was to be in this position right here, to be in that last group going into the final day,” Lewis said. “And, honestly, the best thing about this week is how I'm so happy with how my ball striking is.

“If I win tomorrow, that's great, but my golf swing is where it needs to be. My wedges are getting better. I am still not quite trusting them, so there's room to improve there. I haven't played anywhere close to my best golf yet this week, and I've got a chance to win tomorrow. That's getting back to where I was before.”

Though Lewis didn’t win last year, her first winless season since 2010, she finished second or third in about one of every three starts. In 26 events, she finished second six times and third three times. It had to be maddening, especially coming off her three titles in ’14, when she became the first American in more than 20 years to sweep the Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy and money-winning title.

Joe Hallett, Lewis’ swing coach, told GolfChannel.com that Lewis didn’t allow the frustrations of so many close calls to derail her approach to the game.

“Stacy’s focus has not changed from last year and the year before and the year before that,” Hallett said. “Our goal is to put ourselves in position. Our goal is to make sure we are consistent.”

Since her last victory, Lewis has 19 top-10 finishes in 39 events.

At No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, Lewis is the highest ranked player in the field this week. No. 1 Lydia Ko isn’t making her first start until next week and Inbee Park withdrew Thursday with a bad back. Park is out for the next month.

Lewis trails Anna Nordqvist and Charley Hull by one shot going into the final round, but Lewis will be looking them both in the eye on the first tee box. With a birdie at the last Saturday, Lewis got herself in the final group.

With the winds down over the Ocean Club Saturday, Lewis took advantage in a bogey-free round of six birdies.

“I think tomorrow is supposed to be even less wind, maybe a little more calm,” Lewis said. “So you're going to have to make some birdies. You're going to have to shoot a good score, but you're not trying to force things. That's the biggest thing for me tomorrow, is just to stay patient and trust my golf swing.”

Lewis opens 2016 much more settled than she did a year ago.

At the start of last season, Lewis teed it up frustrated over her search to find a golf ball to replace the version of the Titleist ProV1 that she had played since 2009. Before the start of last year, Titleist decided to cease manufacturing of the '09 ball and did not resubmit it to the conforming list.

She went through different versions of Bridgestone balls until finding what she liked midway through the year in the Bridgestone 330S. She also struggled to find a driver early last year. That driver-ball combination helped contribute to a drop-off of 10 yards per average drive. With a TaylorMade M1 in her bag now, Lewis likes the driver/ball combo.

“That little lost distance that we talked about last year, it's almost 90 percent made up with equipment right now,” Hallett said.

Lewis is happy where she is at in her personal life, too. She got engaged to Houston golf coach Gerrod Chadwell in November and bought a new home in Houston.

“Personally and professionally, I think Stacy’s in a very good place,” Hallett said.

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.