Park, Ko, Lewis set for battle in Singapore

By Randall MellMarch 7, 2015, 4:21 pm

Lydia Ko tees it up Sunday with a chance to put a stranglehold on the Rolex world No. 1 ranking as she bids to win her third title in a row.

No. 2 Inbee Park isn’t hiding the fact that she wants the No. 1 ranking back.

No. 3 Stacy Lewis is just as motivated to ascend back to the top of the world rankings.

With the LPGA delivering yet another enchanting storyline, this trio will go head-to-head in the final round of the HSBC Women’s Champions. In a compelling final-round grouping, the world Nos. 1-2-3 players will battle it out together in Singapore.

“It will be great fun,” Lewis said. “It's great for the fans and for our tour. This leaderboard, all week, has been unbelievable. Just a ton of really good players up in the mix.”

LPGA pros are picking up right where they left off in 2014, delivering dramatic storylines again this year.

Ko, 17, got the year started in a big way, becoming the youngest No. 1 in the history of professional golf. She’s built terrific momentum since ascending, going to Singapore on the heels of back-to-back victories at the Women’s Australian Open and the New Zealand Women’s Open. Yet another victory this week would send a strong message to Park and Lewis - and the rest of women’s golf - that she intends to rule over the game for a long while.

Ko has some work to do Sunday, however. With Inbee Park posting a 4-under-par 68 Saturday, Park is looking to go wire-to-wire in an attempt to win her first title this year and her 11th worldwide over the last 25 months. At 13 under overall, Park is two shots ahead of Ko (67) and Lewis (67).

“I think it's going to be a really fun day tomorrow,” Park said. “It's a great leaderboard, and everybody, all the fans, are looking forward to seeing our play tomorrow.”

Park and Lewis can’t get to No. 1 with wins this week, but they can narrow the gap on Ko, who will take her No. 1 ranking into a sixth week no matter what happens in Singapore.

Park, 26, lost the No. 1 ranking to Ko after the LPGA season opener this year, and she isn’t bashful in saying she would like it back. But she says she knows performance takes care of everything.

“I want it,” Park said. “I just know I want it, but I'm just not going to push myself too hard to get something. It's something that if you push for, it's just hard to get. Just a couple of wins and playing great golf, and it's going to come, so I'm just going to not rush anything and just play good golf.”

If Ko wins, she doesn’t just build a large cushion as No. 1. She sends a powerful message to the last two No. 1s before her. She sends a message to all of golf.

“That would be I guess a dream three weeks, but I'm just going to try my best,” Ko said about the prospect of winning again.

Ko’s reign as No. 1 is impressive given who she overtook to get there and who she’s holding off. Park and Lewis took turns holding the No. 1 ranking the last two years.

Park made history in 2013 becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1950 to win the first three major championships of the year. Those victories still count in the two-year rolling window Rolex uses to measure world rankings, though they don’t count as much in the weighted points system. Park has won four majors over the last two seasons.

Lewis, 30, swept the Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the LPGA money title last year. She has won two Rolex Player of the Year titles in the last three years.

While these three players are eager to battle each other for the HSBC Women’s Champions title, they’re aware this is more than a three-player race. Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz are in the grouping that will go off right in front of them. They’re each within striking distance, four shots back.

“This golf course, we have got to be careful about what's going on ahead of us, because it's easy to post a number and kind of sit back and see what happens,” Lewis said. “The final group on a Sunday is where you want to be, doesn't matter who is in the group.”

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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.

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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.