Par 5: Questions for the Memorial

By Randall MellMay 31, 2011, 2:43 pm

Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for the Memorial ...

What kind of respect will new No. 1 Luke Donald command at the Memorial?

More respect than any American player is getting these days.

That’s what the oddsmakers tell us.

Whether you approve of gambling or not, one of the best ways to view the public’s confidence in a player is through the odds established by golf’s major betting houses. The whole “science” of oddsmaking is based on gauging the public’s perception of who ought to be favored to win. Really, it’s the betting public that sets odds.

Ladbrokes makes Donald the favorite at the Memorial this week at 10-to-1 with Phil Mickelson getting the next best odds at 14-to-1.

Though Donald’s never won a major, he’s also now the co-favorite with Mickelson to win the U.S. Open with the odds on each of them at 12-to-1, according to Ladbrokes.

So how long will Donald’s run at No. 1 last?

We’re in a different territory in the world rankings.

Donald is the fourth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the last 32 weeks.

It's been 14 years since so many different players have held the top ranking in such a short span.

Before Tiger Woods was overtaken in the world rankings last fall, you would have to go back more than 4,200 weeks to find four different players holding the top spot. Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Woods were the only players to hold the top ranking between June 13, 1998, and Oct. 30, 2010.

Back in the late spring/early summer of 1997, Greg Norman, Tom Lehman, Els and Woods took turns holding the top spot over a 10-week period.

Donald’s run at No. 1 shouldn’t be the shortest in OWGR history. Lehman held the top spot a single week in the spring of 1997. With No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Martin Kaymer taking this week off, Donald’s run should last at least two weeks.

After that? With three major championships and a World Golf Championship in the next 11 weeks, there’s a load of world ranking points up for grabs this summer. If somebody gets hot, a player could build a nice lead at No. 1. If parity continues as golf’s theme, we could see a lot more volatility at the top.

Will there be tea and crumpets in the players’ lounge at the Memorial?

There’s a decidedly English theme at Muirfield Village this week.

England’s Justin Rose is back as the defending champ with England’s Donald making his debut as the world’s new No. 1.

Donald’s obviously on a roll. He’s won twice and finished second twice in his last nine world starts with his worst finish at tie for 10th. Since missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open, here’s how Donald's results line reads: W, T-10, T-6, T-4, 2nd, T-8, T-4, 2nd, W.

Rose won the Memorial and the AT&T National within a month’s span last year. He’s made all but one cut in 12 starts this year with strong finishes at the Northern Trust Open (T-9), Transitions Championship (T-5) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (T-3).

Who’s best suited to make the U.S. relevant again on golf’s world stage?

The BMW PGA Championship didn’t need the Americans last weekend.

Though there were questions whether U.S. players should make the trip to the European Tour’s flagship event, the truth is that once the first tee shot was struck, nobody on the other side of the pond cared that there were no Americans there. The storylines were strong and plentiful with Donald outdueling Westwood to win the title and the No. 1 ranking, with 18-year-old Matteo Manassero in the mix for his third title and with Ian Poulter and Els feuding over course design.

The Americans are being overshadowed in a large way in the world’s biggest events, from the last four majors to The Ryder Cup and the world ranking battle for No. 1. If not for all the focus on Woods, they’d be nearly irrelevant.

With Woods hurt and slumping, Phil Mickelson’s the Great American Hope, the United States’ biggest name with the biggest persona and the most cachet.

Though he’s failed with so many chances to become No. 1, Mickelson’s best suited this week to carry the American banner back onto the game’s grandest stages.

Is this the week Rory McIlroy gets his mojo back?

McIlroy conceded at the BMW Championship last week that he’s still making his way back from the dizzying blow of his Masters’ loss.

“I think I need to get myself into that position again to know how I've got over it and if I'll handle it better,” McIlroy said. “I think I've put a few things in place that will make me handle being in that position better again. But you never really know until you're tested in that environment.”

Since The Masters, McIlroy’s spent time with putting wizard Dave Stockton and sports psychologist Bob Rotella.

After squandering the 54-hole lead at the Masters, McIlroy made a quick rebound at the Maybank Malaysian the next week, immediately getting into contention before losing late in the final round to Manassero with a clumsy finish.

The double dose of disappointment seemed to catch up to him with the down time that followed.

McIlroy missed the cut in defense of his title at the Wells Fargo Championship, his first return to the United States since the Masters. He was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Volvo World Match Play and never got in contention at the BMW PGA after opening with a 76. He seemed to find some rhythm playing the weekend at Wentworth and will be looking to build upon it at the Memorial.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.