Newsmaker of the Year, No. 4: Park vs. Ko

By Randall MellDecember 16, 2015, 1:00 pm

Lydia Ko and Inbee Park made 2015 another march through the record books.

Ko was on so many leaderboards this year, if you didn’t see her name up there, you wondered if somebody should issue an Amber alert.

Same with Park.

Ko and Park didn’t just combine to win 10 of the 31 LPGA events staged this year. They combined for 32 top-10 finishes, 22 top-five finishes. Ko or Park finished first, second or third in more than half (16) of the events staged.

Ko won five times. So did Park.

Ko won a major, Park won two.

Ko won the Rolex Player of the Year title, Race to the CME Globe and the tour money title.

Park, 27, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame doing so. She’ll become the youngest inductee ever sometime next year.

“They both push each other,” said Brad Beecher, Park’s caddie. “No matter what week it is, one of them is playing outstanding golf. It inspires the other one to play better. I don’t know that it’s a rivalry where they feel like, `I must beat her.’ I think it’s more like, `I want to be as good as her. I want to do what she’s doing.’”

Top 10 Newsmakers of 2015: The full list

Ko’s caddie, Jason Hamilton, said the two players bring out the best in each other.

“Inbee’s a great player,” Hamilton said. “Whenever you see you are in a pairing with Inbee, it’s a plus. She drags you up. She has that effect on people.”

Ko keeps proving herself golf’s ultimate prodigy, sweeping through the grandest of youthful slams. At 17, back in February, she became the youngest man or woman to rise to the No. 1 ranking in professional golf. At 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old, she won the Evian Championship, becoming the youngest woman to win a major championship. She became the youngest LPGA Player of the Year and money title winner, and she also became the youngest player to reach 10 career LPGA victories.

Park added two more major championship titles to her total this year, winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She has won six of the last 15 majors. That moves her into elite company at seven major championship titles overall. She has won as many majors as Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb. Only Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Babe Zaharias (10), Annika Sorenstam (10) and Betsy Rawls (8) have won more.

Ko closed her first major championship victory with a masterpiece.

Ko’s 63 in the final round of Evian may have been the best performance in the history of women’s majors. Evian isn’t Oakmont or St. Andrews, far from it, but the venue isn’t what distinguished the effort. It was the fact that her 63 was so much better than anybody else’s score trying to win on Sunday, when the pressure to perform is greatest. That’s what made her round feel so historic. Her 63 was seven shots better than anyone else in contention, than anyone among the final 18 players teeing off on that Sunday in France.

Park’s 2015 highlight also came in the final round of a major. Her 7-under-par 65 at Trump Turnberry gave her the title she most wanted this year, the Women’s British Open. The LPGA and Park recognized it as the crowning achievement in a career Grand Slam, her fourth different major championship triumph, though the career “Grand Slam” designation remains debated with the LPGA featuring five majors.

Winning the Women’s British Open came with extra meaning because of Park’s history in that major. She took a one-shot lead into the final round at Royal Birkdale in 2014 and faltered on the back nine. At St. Andrews the year before, she came into Scotland having won the first three majors of the year but fell short trying to make a Grand Slam run when she lost there.

“I’ve set one goal, and one goal only this year, and that’s winning the British Open,” Park said after winning at Turnberry.

Ko and Park left their footprints all over the 2015 season, and they will be looking to do the same next year in extending their march through the LPGA’s record books.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.