Passing the Baton

By Randall MellMarch 13, 2011, 4:42 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – As NBC’s telecast of the WGC-Cadillac Championship was coming on the air Saturday, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were preparing to leave the stage.

They were moving out of the way with the next generation thundering in behind them.

That’s what it felt like.

In the larger view of the game, that’s what it feels like on this World Golf Championship stage, where the best of the best try to shine.

With Woods and Mickelson playing the 18th hole as the third-round telecast began, the game’s next wave was storming the leaderboard.

Look at the top eight going into Sunday’s final round at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.

Dustin Johnson (-13), Luke Donald (-11), Matt Kuchar (-11), Nick Watney (-11), Adam Scott (-10), Rory McIlroy (-10), Francesco Molinari (-10) and Hunter Mahan (-10) are all within three shots of each other.

The average age of the bunch? 28.5 years old.

Woods is hardly an old man at 35, but he’s older than anybody in the top eight.

Mickelson is 40 and not-so-long-ago diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.

Woods begins Sunday 11 shots back, Mickelson 13 back.


Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
Woods and Mickelson shot Saturday rounds of 70 and 72, respectively, falling to T30 and T42 through three rounds.
Barring a final-round miracle, Woods will leave Doral winless after 16 months. The TPC Blue Monster is one of his playgrounds. He’s never finished outside the top 10 playing here, but that’s looking likely.


Mickelson's winless drought is nearing a year as his title defense at the Masters approaches.

If anything, Woods further emboldened his youthful competition with those two terrible swings with his driver in Friday’s second round and with his balky putter through three rounds. His high-handicapper’s duck hook that nosedived in the rough before reaching the women’s tees at No. 2 and his infield-fly rule pop-up at the 14th were still being talked about Saturday.

“The drives at the second and 14th were a shock,” Butch Harmon, Woods’ former swing coach said while visiting the NBC TV booth during Saturday’s telecast. “This is Tiger Woods, not a Nationwide Tour player trying to get his card.

“If I’m Tiger Woods, I’m a little frustrated I’m not seeing more consistency.”

Woods’ next start is the Tavistock Cup, an unofficial event Monday and Tuesday on Woods’ home course at Isleworth Country Club outside Orlando. The familiarity of that setting and the comfortable nature of that event should help Woods.

“If he doesn’t play well there, then I think there are some real problems,” Harmon said.

Doral seemed like an ideal setting to spark a rebound in both these players. Woods has won on the Blue Monster three times, Mickelson once. They staged a terrific duel here in ’05, the first of Woods’ Doral victories. They were paired together in the first three rounds this week, but even that didn’t ignite returns to form.

Woods shot 2-under-par 70 Sunday, Mickelson 72, but neither stopped to discuss their rounds with media.

The world rankings are a measure of what’s happening to this once dynamic duo.

No. 1-2 at the start of last year, they’re both sliding fast with Woods at No. 5 and Mickelson No. 6. Given who’s on the leaderboard this weekend, it’s possible that Woods could get bumped all the way down to No. 10 in the world come Sunday night. Mickelson, Casey, McIlroy, Stricker and Kuchar all have chances to move ahead of Woods in the world rankings, depending how Woods closes.

Today’s top players aren’t writing off Woods and Mickelson, but they’re gaining confidence and momentum with a wide open battle for No. 1.

“When you talk about Tiger and Phil, they are always going to be in the mix, maybe not every week, but they are going to be in the mix because they are great players,” Johnson said. “ They have been great players for a long time. But there's a lot of good young players coming up right now that you are going to see at the top of the leaderboard a lot.”

And in the spotlight on golf’s grand stages.



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

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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.