LPGA kicks off 2012 season at Royal Melbourne

By Randall MellFebruary 6, 2012, 8:55 pm

Look for a proven champion to win the LPGA’s season opener in Australia this week.

Royal Melbourne is one of the world’s best tests of golf, and it rarely yields to the unproven.

The LPGA makes a notable start to its 2012 season with a strong field teeing it up at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. 

Rolex world No. 1 Yani Tseng is looking to win this championship for the third consecutive year. She got her season off to a torrid start a year ago, winning the first four times she teed it up. No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, No. 4 Cristie Kerr, No. 7 Jiyai Shin, No. 9 Brittany Lincicome and No. 10 Stacy Lewis also are in this week’s field.

Lexi Thompson, the 16-year-old who last year became the youngest winner of an LPGA event, and the youngest professional winner of a Ladies European Tour event, will make her LPGA rookie debut this week.

Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, a four-time winner of the Women’s Australian Open, will be a crowd favorite there. Webb would love to add her name to the title a fifth time, especially with Royal Melbourne hosting its first women’s professional event.

“It’s a huge deal,” Webb told GolfChannel.com in an email. “To my knowledge, a women’s event has never been played on the Composite Course. I don’t think we ever get enough opportunities to play the great courses around the world.”

LPGA pros got to play Oakmont at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, Carnoustie at the Women’s British Open last year and the Old Course at St. Andrews in the Women’s British Open in 2007. Royal Melbourne is in that class as a championship test.

“I think Royal Melbourne represents what Australian golf is all about,” Webb said. “I think it’s a great combination of American courses and British links courses with its own personality.

“It’s a course that has its own naturally designed defense, but, with the ever-changing Melbourne weather, can create a brutal test of golf.”

Built in Australia’s sand belt, Royal Melbourne’s composite course is made up of 12 holes from its West Course and six from its East Course. Alister MacKenzie, who designed Augusta National, directed the design of the West Course. The routing is virtually the same as what the men played during the last Presidents Cup, with some minor variations.

Early reports out of Australia this week describe Royal Melbourne’s famed greens as having a brownish, purple hue, but tournament officials say the women won’t face the same brutal setup the men faced at the Presidents Cup in November. The green speeds are reported to be running 11.5 on the stimpmeter this week. They were measured at 14 during the Presidents Cup.

“They'll be firmish, they’ll be very playable,” tournament director Trevor Herden told Melbourne newspaper The Age. “It's a great test, and the players will appreciate that. The stronger players will appreciate it a bit more.”

The wind can be a large factor in outcomes at Royal Melbourne.

“It’s been awhile since I was there, and the course has been re-done since then,” Webb said. “I know the greens are very undulating, and, depending on the speed of them, will take a lot of imagination and trust to putt well on them.”

Webb played her first Australian Amateur at Royal Melbourne in 1991, though not on the composite course. She played another amateur event there in '93. She said she didn't fare well in either.

The LPGA is co-sanctioning this week’s event with the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association. The field of 156 players includes 100 LPGA pros. It’s the first LPGA event in Australia in more than a decade. The LPGA turns to its early Asian swing next week.

“It’s a huge deal for the growth of women’s golf in Australia, that the LPGA have an event here again,” Webb said. “It’s great for the young girls just turning pro, or the elite amateurs to see where they stack up talent-wise, but it’s also important to raise the profile and have young girls take up the game.”

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Cabrera and son 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 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.