Par 5: Major predicament

By Randall MellJune 7, 2011, 4:16 pm

 Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for tournament golf at large ...

Will Lee Westwood peak a week early again?

A lot of players wrestle with how to best prepare for major championships.

Do you play the week before? Do you rest the week before? Do you travel to the major championship site the weekend before to get in extra prep? Do you wear lucky socks from great rounds in your past?

Who knows? There are nearly as many formulas for winning majors as there are major championship winners.

Still, there is one rule that ranks above all others when preparing for the U.S. Open.

A player should never, ever win the week before the U.S. Open.

Why? Because nobody in the modern era has won the week before the U.S. Open and gone on to win the U.S. Open the same year.

It’s as befuddling as The Masters’ Par 3 jinx. It makes little sense.

So will Westwood make the same mistake twice? If he gets himself into contention in defense of his title on Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, you bet he’ll try. It makes little sense to play the week before a major without trying to win. No Player of integrity in this week’s event takes any such jinxes seriously. Every player in the field wants to be the guy who breaks the jinx.

Will Westwood welcome the extra pressure to perform?

It may not be possible to feel extra pressure in Westwood’s situation. He’s already loaded up with pressure by virtue of the fact that he ascended to No. 1 in the world without having won a major. He’s 38 with some close calls in majors that either embolden his bid or weigh it down. He sounds like the emboldened type as a No. 2 trying to regain his top ranking.

Still, Westwood’s decision to skip The Players Championship last month puts extra scrutiny on his run up to the U.S. Open.

Even though the PGA Tour changed its rules to give Westwood more flexibility to compete in The Players and also defend in Memphis, he passed on the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He said the 11 opportunities allowed him as a non-member playing the PGA Tour weren’t enough to make it worth the trip to The Players if he couldn’t supplement the trip with one more start. He wanted to play Quail Hollow the week before The Players and still defend in Memphis.

NBC’s Johnny Miller called Westwood’s skipping The Players as world No. 1 an affront to the championship.

“If he wins the U.S. Open, everyone will say, `Well, he got it right,’” said Chubby Chandler, Westwood’s agent. “If he misses the cut at the U.S. Open, everyone will say, `Well, why didn’t he play [The Players]?’ But you can only expect to tee it up in good shape. You can’t expect to win, only to give yourself a shot. I will be amazed if he doesn’t give himself a shot at Congressional.”

So what are the chances Robert Garrigus takes a three-shot lead to the 72nd hole this year?

It was hard to watch Garrigus blow a three-shot lead at the final hole at TPC Southwind last year, but who wouldn’t mind seeing him get another chance to win this event?

Garrigus pulled his tee shot into the water at the 72nd hole last year, took a drop and then yanked his next shot off a tree in a finish that would have made Jean Van de Velde turn his head(well, maybe not). Garrigus made triple bogey and then lost in a playoff.

Garrigus ended up being one of 2010’s feel-good stories when he redeemed himself bouncing back to win the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Orlando. Given his spectacular defeat in Memphis, it was a popular victory. A win this week would be equally popular.

Who’s trying to play their way into the U.S. Open through St. Jude?

Not Sergio Garcia, thanks to his sectional qualifying effort Monday.

If there’s such a thing as karma, Garcia deserves a little golf god love at the U.S. Open after playing himself into the championship through the sectional at Tunica National in Memphis. He advanced through a playoff to earn a spot. Originally, Garcia didn’t plan on trying to qualify, but he said he found extra motivation with news his sister and her boyfriend were planning a trip from Spain to attend the U.S. Open at Congressional next week. Garcia will have more than family rooting him on after making the extra effort, which will extend his major championship appearances to 47 consecutive.

J.B. Holmes and Steve Marino weren’t so fortunate. They both missed making it through sectionals, but they can still play their way into the U.S. Open through the FedEx St. Jude Classic this week. Holmes (ranked No. 55 in the world rankings) tweeted Monday that he’d likely withdraw from Memphis so his chances are slim. Marino, No. 59, can still gain a spot in the U.S. Open by moving among the top 50 in Sunday night’s newest ranking.

Is Suzann Pettersen poised to become the No. 1 player in the world?

With all the talk about revolving No. 1s in the men’s game, it’s worth noting the women got this hot-potato theme rolling last year at the top of their world rankings.

After withdrawing from the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week with lingering effects of the flu, No. 2 Pettersen’s back in action at this week’s LPGA State Farm Classic. So is No. 1 Yani Tseng. With the event losing State Farm as its title sponsor for the last 19 years, LPGA pros will be looking to put on a good show in a bid to help woo a new title sponsor. Nine of the top 10 in the world rankings are playing this week.

Pettersen eliminated No. 1 Tseng from the Sybase Match Play Championship’s quarterfinals three weeks ago. She also knocked off Na Yeon Choi in the semifinals and Cristie Kerr in the finals in an impressive stream roll to the title. Pettersen’s run bumped her to No. 2 in the world, where she’s poised to try to become the fifth player in the last year to hold the No. 1 ranking.

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

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.