Lewis set to make more American history Sunday

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2013, 9:53 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Call her the American Rainmaker.

Stacy Lewis is about to step up yet again to end another long drought in American women’s golf.

A year ago, Lewis became the first American in 18 years to win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year.

Come Sunday, she has all but guaranteed she will become the first American in 19 years to win the Vare Trophy for low scoring average.

If she can win the CME Group Titleholders, Lewis will become the first American in 20 years to win the Vare Trophy and the LPGA money winning list in the same season.

Lewis made it all possible scorching Tiburon Saturday with a tournament record 9-under-par 63 to vault into contention in the season finale. After a couple good putts to save par early, Lewis jump started her round, holing a 5-iron from 177 yards for eagle at the third hole.

“There were about five volunteers up by the green, and all their hands went up in the air,” Lewis said. “That’s how I knew it went in.”

That’s the same 5-iron Lewis used to hit one of the great shots in major championship history. She used that club to carve a clutch shot through the wind over the Road Hole at St. Andrews to set up her birdie-birdie finish to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open in August.

Lewis started the day 11 shots back. She made eight birdies, that eagle and one bogey to jump 29 spots into a tie for fourth.

If Lewis is going to close out 2013 with her fourth LPGA title this season, she knows she will have to close hard. The star-studded leaderboard is bunched tight with seven players within two shots of the lead.

With a 65, Natalie Gulbis seized a share of the 54-hole lead in a bid to win for the first time since her LPGA breakthrough victory at the Evian Masters in ’07. She’s rebounding nicely in a season partially marred by a two-month hiatus recovering from malaria, an illness she contracted in Thailand in her first start of the year.

Gulbis is atop the leaderboard with Gerina Piller (67) and Pornanong Phatlum (67). Just two shots back are Lewis, Lexi Thompson (67), Shanshan Feng (67) and Sandra Gal (74). Three back is Michelle Wie (66) with Inbee Park (69) and Cristie Kerr (71) among players four back. 

“It’s a great leaderboard,” Park said. “There are so many good players up there, it just makes your win tougher.”

There’s plenty to motivate Lewis beyond the $700,000 first-place check, the largest in women’s golf.

As long as Suzann Pettersen doesn’t post a score 17 shots better than hers, Lewis will win the Vare Trophy.

Lewis is $498,883 behind Park on the money list, but that big first-place check would assure her the money title no matter what Park does.

No American has won the Vare Trophy since Beth Daniel in 1994. No American has won the Vare Trophy and the money title in the same season since Betsy King in 1993.

Lewis knows her LPGA history, and she appreciates the record Daniel, King and other Americans built.

“Coming out on tour, did I ever think I could win any of these awards?” Lewis said. “Absolutely not. Just to be in the running is a huge honor.

“As a kid, I don't think you really appreciate what people did before you, and the opportunities you have. But, definitely, once I got on tour, I made it a point to get to know the older players, the Hall of Famers.  I made it a point to do that because I wanted to know what it was like for them. What did they have to go through? . . . .  To have my name as a part of history is a huge honor and hopefully I take care of that tomorrow.”

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.