Par 5

By Randall MellMarch 8, 2011, 6:54 pm
Setting the agenda for the week ahead with five questions for the WGC-Cadillac Championship . . .

Will Doral’s Blue Monster spark the return of Tiger’s winning form?

You can rank Doral’s Blue Monster among the venues Tiger Woods has flourished on over the years.

It’s there with Torrey Pines, Firestone, Bay Hill, Cog Hill, Augusta National, Muirfield Village and Emirates Golf Club.

That’s not necessarily a good thing now, however.

While Woods has combined to win 35 times on those courses, he’s on a streak setting personal records for high scores on his most successful venues.

Over the last eight months, Woods has posted his high marks as a pro at Cog Hill (283), Firestone (298), Torrey Pines (287) and Emirates (284). Over the next six weeks, he’s got Doral, Bay Hill and Augusta National to play.

Woods has won three times at Doral. In seven starts on the Blue Monster, he’s never finished outside the top 10.

Woods equaled the tournament scoring record at 24-under 264 when he won at Doral in 2005.

Nobody should be surprised, though, if something kicks in on the Blue Monster.

Just last week, Jack Nicklaus said playing Baltusrol at the U.S. Open in 1980 helped pull him out of the worst slump of his career. He won for a second time at Baltusrol making his return there.
Where does Doral rank among Tiger’s hot spots?

Woods can become the winningest player in the history of Doral’s PGA Tour stop if he claims the title this week.

Woods won at Doral in 2005, ’06 and ’07. That equals Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd and Andy Bean for most PGA Tour titles there.

Though Woods has won more professional titles at Torrey Pines (7), Firestone (7), Bay Hill (6), Cog Hill (5), Muirfield Village (4) and Augusta National (4), he sports one of his better scoring averages at Doral among events where he’s played at least 20 rounds.

Here are Woods’ scoring averages as a pro at his best PGA Tour stops (rounds played in parenthesis):

Firestone Country Club 68.15 (44).

Emirates Golf Club 68.41 (24).

Doral’s Blue Monster 68.42 (28).

Cog Hill 68.56 (48).

Torrey Pines North/South 68.61 (47).

Muirfield Village 69.61 (47).

Bay Hill 69.73 (52).

Augusta National 70.48 (56).
Is Phil Mickelson ready to win again?

Phil Mickelson believes a victory is all he needs to feel like his game is right where he wants it before the Masters.

With the year’s first major just four weeks away, Mickelson’s planning a trip to Augusta National this week to get some Masters’ work in and another trip there the week of the Shell Houston Open.

Lefty needs a victory for more than the extra jolt of confidence it will give him. He needs one to replenish world ranking points. He’s poised to lose even more points than Tiger Woods this week. Mickelson’s victory at Doral two years ago comes off his world ranking points total next week. Woods will lose points he won for tying for ninth at Doral two years ago.
Will the Euros win another big event?

The Europeans are on a dominant run.

When England’s Luke Donald won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship two weeks ago, it marked the fifth victory by a European or European Tour member in the last six World Golf Championships/major championships.

Tracing backward, that’s Luke Donald at the WGC-Accenture, Francesco Molinari at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship, Louis Oosthuizen at the British Open and Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open. Hunter Mahan scored the only non-Euro victory in that string of WGCs and majors, winning the WGC-Bridgestone.
Are the South Africans poised for another large victory?

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen may have hit 40, but the South African contingent still looks strong.

Els is the defending champ at the WGC-Cadillac Championship this week. He battled fellow countryman Charl Schwartzel down the stretch on the Blue Monster last year. Rory Sabbatini is coming off a victory at the Honda Classic last week, which vaulted him into running to make the International team for the Presidents Cup.

Did you know the top five players on the Internationals’ team point standings are all South Africans? Els, Goosen, Tim Clark, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel top the list. Sabbatini jumped to 18th with his Honda victory.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.