Park's win adds more drama to LPGA season

By Randall MellNovember 2, 2014, 10:05 am

There appears no end to the enchantment in this magical season in the women’s game.

Days after taking the Rolex world No. 1 ranking from Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park fought off a determined charge by Lewis Sunday to win the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship.

“Stacy was really tough,” Park told reporters in Taiwan. “It was a really good day, but it wasn’t an easy day for me.”

Park, 26, and Lewis, 29, have ruled over the game for the past two seasons, but until Sunday’s terrific duel in the wind and rain over New Taipei City they had not gone head-to-head trying to finish off a victory.

“I don’t think this is the last time we’re battling at the end of a tournament,” Lewis said. “We’re both playing some really good golf right now.”

It was Park’s first victory since she married her swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, two weeks ago.

“Maybe people said, `She’s not going to play as well as when she was not married,’” Park said. “I think we can put that as wrong.”

Four shots up at day’s start, Park watched Lewis slash her lead to a single shot with a birdie at the 16th hole. Typical of the back-and-forth battles these two have waged taking turns holding the No. 1 ranking over the last 85 weeks, Park answered. She stiffed her approach to 3 feet at the 17th to make birdie and held on from there to win by two.

Park was uncharacteristically excited after closing out, showing just how much beating Lewis in a head-to-head duel meant to her.

“I don’t think we ever played on the final day,” Park said. “We’ve played in the first two rounds, but it’s different in the final round. This was almost our first match together. If she had beaten me, it would have been tough.”

Park opened her round with back-to-back birdies.

Lewis countered making birdies at the first three holes.

Park looked as if she might be succumbing to the pressure Lewis was applying early when she made back-to-back bogeys finishing off the front nine, but Park righted her waywardness in a big way. After hitting an 8-iron into the water in front of the ninth hole, Park took a drop and then barely cleared the hazard with her next shot. She was undaunted, however, chipping in for bogey from 45 feet.

Park finished at 22-under overall, closing with a 71. Lewis shot 69.

While Park and Lewis hadn’t gone head-to-head before in a final round, they’ve applied unrelenting pressure on each other in the world rankings. They’ve shared the No. 1 ranking over the 20 months, each taking two turns at the top, with Inbee reigning for 60 weeks and Lewis for 25.

Park’s victory intensifies the burgeoning rivalry between these two and ratchets up the stakes over the final three events of the year. Park looks as if she isn’t satisfied just taking the No. 1 ranking from Lewis late in this season. She looks determined to overtake Lewis for the Rolex Player of the Year Award and to beat her out in the Race to the CME Globe.

Park’s victory was her third LPGA title of the year, equaling Lewis for the most this season. With the victory worth 30 points, Park moved within 12 points of Lewis in the Rolex Player of the Year race. The schedule moves to Japan next week for the Mizuno Classic, to Mexico for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational the week after and then to Naples, Fla., for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Lewis is going to play all three with Park skipping only the Mizuno Classic.

That this season should come down to a battle between Park and Lewis for the LPGA’s biggest prizes seems fitting. This has been a year where star power has delivered in a big way, with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie winning their first majors, with Americans dominating the first half of the season and the South Koreans the second half.

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.

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.