Pushing the Boundaries

By Randall MellApril 10, 2011, 4:10 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy kept pushing, pushing, pushing.

With the sun setting over the third round of the Masters, McIlroy pushed Tiger Woods right off the leaderboard.

That’s how it felt Saturday at Augusta National.

Woods was playing in the pairing directly in front of McIlroy, the ideal place for Woods to apply pressure to the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland, the perfect place to literally show the young Ulsterman how you take control of a major on the weekend.

But the day would end feeling like this Masters is McIlroy’s to lose. And it would end feeling like Woods has already lost it.

Through the second nine, Woods might not have been able to see what is coming, but he heard it.

In fact, standing over his approach shot into the 18th green, Woods had to step off his ball when McIlroy conjured a roar at the 17th green, rolling in a 40-foot putt for birdie. Woods answered by blowing his approach over the green. His closing bogey knocked his name off the leaderboard.

With a solid 2-under-par 70 on a difficult setup, McIlroy took control of the 75th Masters Tournament in a bid to win his first major championship.

At 12-under 204, McIlroy has built a four-shot lead on 2009 Masters champ Angel Cabrera and three others.

McIlroy is right where he wants to be, in the final pairing in the final round of the Masters, a position from which 19 of the last 20 winners of this event have come.

Woods? After a 74, the worst Saturday score among the final five pairings, Tiger begins Sunday seven shots back.

If McIlroy can finish this off, it will feel like more than a victory for the Irishman. It will feel like a shift in the game’s power base. It will feel like a young, new movement is officially taking over.

Martin Kaymer was 25 when he won the PGA Championship last August. Louis Oosthuizen was 27 when he won the British Open last July. That’s three consecutive titles for the twentysomethings, if McIlroy closes this out.

McIlroy, however, knows there’s hard work to be done.

“It feels good,” he said of the four-shot lead. “I’m not getting ahead of myself. I know how leads can dwindle away very quickly. I have to go out there tomorrow, not take anything for granted and go out and play as hard as I’ve played the last three days.”

McIlroy embodies the fearless nature of this new breed.

It isn’t just his bold game. It’s his bold attitude. While his statements about Woods, about how today’s players don’t fear the former No. 1, get overplayed, McIlroy’s attitude sets him apart as the next generation’s leading man.

McIlroy talked Saturday about how Woods “grabbed all our imaginations” winning the 1997 Masters by 12 shots. He honored Woods’ breakthrough as a “huge moment for golf” and credited Woods with “doing more for the game than I ever could or will.” At the same time, you sense McIlroy isn’t afraid of Woods or his aura or anyone else’s.

“I really don’t care about anyone else in this tournament other than myself,” McIlroy said when asked about Woods’ inability to make a move on him. “To think about other players would be very naïve and very silly.”

Unless Cabrera, who’s dangerous near any lead, turns this championship his way, a breakthrough seems certain Sunday. Cabrera’s the only major championship winner among the top eight on the leaderboard, among anyone within six shots of the lead.

But McIlroy has lots of company trying to break through.

Fellow Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott will be looking to push each other in a bid to win Australia its first Masters from their spots, four and five back, respectively.

How grand would that be Down Under?

“Indescribable,” Scott said.

South Korea’s K.J. Choi is trying to win his first major from four back.

“I’m happy where I am,” Choi said. “I’m in good position. You never know what can happen on the final day.”

Charl Schwartzel, Luke Donald, Bo Van Pelt – they’re all looking for their first majors.

Woods is looking for a first, also. He’s looking for his first come-from-behind victory in a major championship.

“Pleased with the way I played, I just made nothing,” said Woods, who missed a 2-foot putt for par at the 11th, three-putted the 15th and missed a 5-foot putt for par at the final hole.

And all the while, Woods heard McIlroy making putts, heard him making a move that may bring an entire new generation of champions to the game’s forefront.


Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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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 GolfChannel.com 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.