Par 5 Questions for the Honda

By Randall MellMarch 1, 2011, 7:43 pm
Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for the Honda Classic ...

Who’s going to pass Tiger Woods this week?

Tiger Woods is losing world-ranking points like a sputtering race car leaking oil.

Rory McIlroy
With a win at the Honda, Rory McIlroy can pass Tiger Woods for No. 5 in the world. (Getty Images)
Woods dropped two spots to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking with his first-round elimination at the Accenture Match Play Championship last week. He would have been passed by Graeme McDowell even if no tournaments had been scheduled, based on points lost over the two-year rolling period of the point system. Woods is leaking points faster than anyone in the game, and it’s greasing his slide.

Rory McIlroy can pass Woods in next week’s rankings with a victory at the Honda Classic.

At No. 6, Phil Mickelson is breathing down Woods’ neck. With both players taking this week off, Woods is set to lose more points than Mickelson, but not enough to allow Mickelson to pass him in the world rankings. But it will be close, oh so close. In next week’s rankings, Mickelson (6.09) will sit just two hundredths of a point behind Woods (6.11) in average points.

Both players will have a lot to win and lose at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral next week. Mickelson will be losing points he won there two years ago, Woods points from tying for ninth two years ago. They’ll both need to replenish points to avoid more slippage.

It’s a big month for Woods. He has points from six victories over the last two years still counting in his world-ranking totals, but the first of those victories will disappear from his point totals in three weeks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Are they awarding Race to Dubai points at PGA National this week?

With so many Europeans in the field at the Honda Classic, the start of the Florida Swing has a distinct European feel to it.

The four highest ranked players in the field are Europeans: No. 2 Lee Westwood (England), No. 3 Luke Donald (England), No. 4 Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland) and No. 8 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland).

Seven members of last year’s victorious European Ryder Cup team are in the field, almost doubling the number of American Ryder Cuppers (4).

Seven Europeans among the top 25 in the world rankings are here, just one American (Matt Kuchar).

While there won’t be any European Tour Race to Dubai points awarded this week, it feels like there ought to be.

Is the Honda Classic regaining its status as an elite PGA Tour event?

With five of the top-10 players in the world rankings at PGA National this week, the Honda Classic’s moving up in class.

No regular PGA Tour event’s been host to more top-10 players so far this season.

Twenty-one of the top 50 in the world are scheduled to play Honda, making the tournament the second deepest field among regular tour events played on the PGA Tour or European Tour so far this year. The Northern Trust Open is the only regular Tour event that’s featured more players (22) among the top 50 this season.

Back when this tournament began 40 years ago as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, it was as big and brazen as the entertainer who put his name on it. All of golf’s big stars turned out, and many of Hollywood’s, too. While the tournament hasn’t regained that cache, its profile is improving again with stronger fields, thanks mostly to the highly ranked Europeans who make their way over for the World Golf Championship events at Tucson and Miami.

Will Lee Westwood answer Martin Kaymer this week?

After 17 consecutive weeks at the top of the world rankings, Lee Westwood makes his first appearance as the former No. 1 player in the world.

Westwood can reclaim lost ground this week and seize back the top ranking from Martin Kaymer by finishing third or better with Kaymer off.

There’s reason to believe Westwood will make a strong response this week. In his first and only start at PGA National last year, he tied for ninth.

Will the Golden Bear dictate another outcome?

Jack Nicklaus handed out a lot of beatings in his day, and he’s still doing so as a golf course architect.

Nicklaus redesigned PGA National’s Champions Course in 1990, creating a treacherous trio of holes on the back nine named The Bear Trap. He freshened up the design again in ’07 but was so happy with The Bear Trap’s design he didn’t touch them.

If Florida’s March winds blow as expected, The Bear Trap holes (the 15th, 16th and 17th) could offer more thrills and spills this side of Augusta National’s Amen Corner.

Back at the 1994 PGA Seniors' Championship, Raymond Floyd took a one-shot lead on Lee Trevino to the 15th tee in the final round. One of the surest front-runners in Tour history, Floyd walked away from the 15th green a wreck. He dunked two shots in the water and made quadruple bogey-7. He dunked another ball in the water at the 17th and finished three behind the champion, Trevino.

Back in 2007, the first year the Honda Classic moved to PGA National, Robert Allenby had a chance to win before making bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes on Sunday and missing out on a playoff by a single shot.

The 15th hole is a 179-yard par 3 with a narrow green guarded right by water and to the left by a large pot bunker. The prevailing wind is dead into the player's face.

The 16th hole is a 434-yard par 4 that doglegs right over water to a two-tiered green.

The 17th is a 190-yard par 3 with water around more than half the green and the prevailing wind quartering left-to-right and into the player's face.

While there hasn’t been a Floyd-like disaster for any Honda Classic contender coming down the stretch on a Sunday, there’s a sense calamity’s due, maybe this year.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
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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

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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.