Putting prowess key to Park's game

By Randall MellApril 7, 2013, 12:55 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Inbee Park’s putter is more like a paint brush than a tool.

There is more artistry than mechanical engineering in her stroke. 

Park will be looking to use her Odyssey Sabertooth putter to paint her second masterpiece when she tees it up Sunday as the 54-hole leader at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She is aiming to add a second major championship to the U.S. Women’s Open title she won at Interlachen in 2008.

With a 5-under-par 67 Saturday, Park took command of the year’s first major. She’s sitting at 12 under overall, three shots better than Lizette Salas (69). Nobody else is closer than six shots.

“This one would mean a lot,” Park said. “It’s just been a tournament I always wanted to win, with the special ceremony jumping into the water. Everybody wants to do that. It just feels special.”

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Park, 24, looks like she will be tough to beat with her ball-striking and her putting stroke so fine-tuned. She was one of just two players to post bogey-free rounds Saturday on the toughening Mission Hills Dinah Shore Course. Paula Creamer (69) was the other. Park has made just two bogeys all week.

Still, this is the Kraft Nabisco, where nothing seems certain when long shadows fall over the course at tournament’s end. We saw that last year, when I.K. Kim missed a 14-inch putt at the 72nd hole that could have won her first major. We saw it in 2009, when Brittany Lincicome carved a hybrid from 210 yards to 4 feet and made the eagle putt to beat Cristie Kerr by a shot. We saw it in 2007, when Suzann Pettersen lost a three-shot lead with four holes to go and lost to Morgan Pressel. And we saw it in ’06, when Karrie Webb came from seven shots back to beat Lorena Ochoa in a playoff. That’s the year Webb holed a pitching wedge from 116 yards at the 72nd hole.

Park has won four LPGA titles, three of them in her last 15 starts, dating back to last summer. She won the LPGA money title last year and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average.

Salas, 23, has never won an LPGA title. She has never even played in the final Sunday pairing on tour, but she hung tough with Park in their pairing Saturday. She earned another chance to play alongside Park.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Salas grew up learning to play at Azusa Greens Golf Course in West Covina, Calif. Her father, Ramon, was the head mechanic on the grounds crew there. He struck a deal with the head pro to do odd jobs in exchange for lessons for Lizette. She developed a game good enough to earn a scholarship to USC, where she became the first member of her family to earn a college degree.

Growing up admiring Nancy Lopez and Lorena Ochoa, Salas has found yet another athletic inspiration this week. She played the Kraft pro-am with Oscar De La Hoya, the boxing champion.

“We were cracking jokes during the pro-am, and he was just saying how golf is like a boxing match, you have to keep fighting and be prepared for anything,” Salas said. “We have similar backgrounds, and he just told me to be proud of who I am.”

De La Hoya sent a tweet to Salas telling her to go for the knockout on Saturday and to put on a show on Sunday.

“We’ll see if I shift into gear tomorrow and throw in some fist pumps,” Salas said.

Park’s short game makes her tough to beat. She can roll putts in from everywhere. Park, who putts left-hand low, has ranked No. 1 on tour in putts per greens in regulation in three of the last five years.

Park taught herself to putt.

“I never had a putting coach,” Park said. “I had a swing coach, but putting has been my instinct and my feelings.”

It’s been her art, and she will be looking to paint another masterpiece Sunday at Mission Hills.

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.

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.