Par 5 Stars and Stripes

By Randall MellFebruary 15, 2011, 7:52 pm
Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for professional golf at large ...

Will the PGA Tour’s stars start to shine in L.A.?

Six weeks into the season, the average world ranking of the year’s PGA Tour winners is No. 139.

Nobody inside the top 30 at the time of his victory has won yet this year.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is looking for his first non-major win since 2009. (Getty Images)
Bubba Watson’s the highest ranked winner. He was No. 33 when he won the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago.

Jonathan Byrd was No. 121 when he won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Mark Wilson No. 237 when he won the Sony Open, Jhonny Vegas No. 187 at the Bob Hope Classic, Wilson No. 91 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and D.A. Points No. 167 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

With Tiger Woods in a funk, it isn’t that nobody’s dominant today. It’s that nobody’s even close.

Matt Kuchar won once last year and was a serious candidate for PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Since the start of the 2009 season, here’s a list of the PGA Tour pros with the most victories:

Tiger Woods, 6.

Steve Stricker, 5.

Phil Mickelson, 4.

Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Mark Wilson, 3.
Can the Northern Trust Open thrive without Tiger Woods?

Jerry West might not have landed Woods, but the NBA legend and tournament executive director has a very strong field with a lot of potentially compelling storylines.

We saw at Torrey Pines just three weeks ago how riveting the action can be without Woods in the mix.

Watson’s victory over Mickelson and Vegas was great theater and all three are in the field again this week. So is defending champion Stricker. Five of the top 10 in the world rankings are at Rivera. That’s one more than played in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic with Woods there last week. Thirty of the top 50 are at Riviera, that’s three times more than played at Dubai last week. West has an All-Star field and it will be interesting to see if Southern California turns out to watch.
Can Phil Mickelson win at Riviera for the third time?

Mickelson won at Riviera in 2009 and ’08 and finished second there in ’07.

In his last 16 rounds on that demanding course, his scoring average is 68.18.

Yes, Lefty's playing well enough to win this week, though you have to wonder if endurance will become a factor. In a very busy start to the season, he’s playing in his fifth consecutive tournament. Though Mickelson hasn’t gone low to spark a run to victory yet this year, he’s avoiding the poor rounds that slowed him after his Masters victory last year. In 20 rounds this season, Mickelson’s been under par 19 times. He was at even par in the only round he failed to break par and has a run going of 13 consecutive rounds under par.

Next week’s Accenture Match Play Championship will mark Mickelson’s sixth consecutive week.
Is Yani Tseng poised to be the next dominant player in the women’s game?

With back-to-back victories in Australia to open the season, 2010 LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Yani Tseng seized the No. 1 Rolex world ranking for the first time in her career.

Tseng, 22, is a power player serving notice that she might be ready to be the next dominant player in the women’s game. She’s already won three major championships, showing she can summon her best in the biggest events.

Tseng will be going for her third victory in as many weeks when she tees it up in the LPGA season-opener Thursday at the Honda LPGA Thailand event. All the big names in women’s golf will be in the 60-player field with Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Na Yeon Choi, Brittany Linicome, Michelle Wie, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster, Angela Stanford, Christina Kim, Morgan Pressel and Natalie Gulbis in the mix.
How will the Americans fare in the LPGA 2011?

Will Kerr dizzy the competition with more performances like her 12-shot romp at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship?

Will Creamer remain healthy and build on her U.S. Women’s Open triumph last summer?

Will Wie win for a third consecutive season, or even up the ante with a multiple win season?

Do Lincicome, Pressel and Stanford have large moves in mind this year?

With just 13 American LPGA events on the schedule, the tour needs its American stars to shine more than ever. Yes, the Asian rise has helped cultivate new markets, but American companies like investing in American winners. It’s a fact of life.

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

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.