McIlroy starting to expect to win each week

By Randall MellSeptember 10, 2012, 12:46 am

CARMEL, Ind. – This ought to be getting scary for Rory McIlroy’s competition.

The kid, as Tiger Woods calls him, is beginning to make winning look easy.

He’s beginning to feel like winning is “normal,” almost inevitable.

While his overall body of work pales in comparison to Woods' monumental achievements, McIlroy is beginning to win the way Woods did.

With a 5-under-par 67 Sunday at the BMW Championship, McIlroy claimed back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff titles, becoming the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. With McIlroy's PGA Championship title in August, that’s three victories in his last four starts.

Sunday’s triumph puts McIlroy in a class with Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win six PGA Tour titles by 23.

“He’s pretty awesome, isn’t he?” Robert Garrigus said after making four consecutive birdies on the back nine Sunday and still failing to catch McIlroy. “You make putts like that, and hit it as straight as he does, and have a good short game, it’s kind of what Tiger was doing back in the day.

“Rory is everything you want in a golfer. I don’t know if he’s going to get to quite what Tiger did in his career, but he’s pretty darned close.”

With the victory, McIlroy pretty much locks up PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Even if Woods wins the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, McIlroy’s major championship win should trump Woods.

McIlroy will head to East Lake in Atlanta for the playoffs’ finale as the FedEx Cup points leader in the re-set for the event. Woods will be second.

A terrific Sunday at Crooked Stick, with so many big names jammed at the top of the leaderboard, ended with McIlroy winning comfortably. Tied for the lead walking on to the 10th green, McIlroy took a three-shot lead to the 18th tee. He bogeyed the last hole and still beat Phil Mickelson (70) and Lee Westwood (69) by two and Woods (68) and Garrigus (69) by three.

McIlroy was asked if his run gives him an appreciation for what Woods did when he was dominating.

“I think I’ve always had an appreciation for what Tiger did over the years, winning seven, eight, nine times in a season,” McIlroy said. “It’s the more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win, and the more you pick up trophies, it becomes normal. It feels like what you’re supposed to do. I’m sure that’s how he felt when he was on that run and how he still feels.

“I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I’m getting to that stage, where I’m thinking this is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week.”

That’s the sentiment, the growing self belief, that ought to alarm McIlroy’s competition.

McIlroy is 40 under par in these last two playoff victories. He has posted eight consecutive rounds in the 60s.

His cumulative scoring average in his PGA Championship, Deutsche Bank and BMW victories is 67.5.

“The last four or five weeks have been incredible, some of the best golf that I’ve ever played,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy, 23, isn’t just winning now. He’s winning the biggest events. He’s beating the best and deepest fields. That’s a major and two playoff titles in this run.

Woods is noting McIlroy’s ability to close.

“He’s going out there and is up near the lead and posts a good number,” Woods said. “He’s doing the things he needs to do, and he’s feeling very confident about his game.”

In a year where PGA Tour pros have reminded us just how difficult it is to close with so many final-round collapses, McIlroy is becoming the game’s fiercest closer. Nobody looks more comfortable now on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win. McIlroy showed that after Westwood birdied the 13th hole Sunday to tie McIlroy for the lead.

McIlroy’s sharpening short game helped him seize back control.

At the 14th, McIlroy missed the green but got up and down to save par. Westwood couldn’t do the same.

“I thought that was the pivotal point,” McIlroy said.

That’s where McIlroy finished off Westwood and everyone else. He birdied the 15th and 16th to stretch his lead to three.

“I sort of picked up where I left off in Boston,” McIlroy said. “Just playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m confident in my ability, confident with the shots I’m hitting and confident on the greens. It’s a nice run to be on, and I want to try to keep it going for as long as possible.”

There’s intrigue wondering just how long that might be.

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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.