Rory, Westwood advance with No. 1 in sight

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2012, 12:44 am

MARANA, Ariz. – The world No. 1 was eliminated in the opening round.

Tiger Woods followed Luke Donald home in Thursday’s second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

These are noteworthy movements this week, tectonic plates continuing to shift beneath the game.

With Donald off to such a sluggish start this season, with Woods’ erratic play showing he is still not ready to mount a dominating run, you can feel the possibility of another major change in golf’s landscape.

You can feel it beneath Rory McIlroy’s footsteps at Dove Mountain this week.

With Woods still out of the way, with Donald gone this weekend, there is a clear path to the top of the game for McIlroy, to the top of the world rankings.

It’s all there for McIlroy, right now, this weekend.

McIlroy could seize the No. 1 ranking Sunday with a victory. He’s No. 2 now, and if he wins the Accenture Match Play Championship, he will become the 16th player to ascend to No. 1.


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At 22, if McIlroy pulls this off, it’s a jolt to the sport, energizing confirmation that the game’s young new breed has taken over.

“Everyone keeps telling me, so it’s hard to put out of my mind,” McIlroy said of the opportunity. “It’s a little bit extra motivation this week, knowing that if I can get through four more matches, I could go to the top of the world rankings, which would obviously be a huge moment for my career.”

Of course, the path to No. 1 this weekend comes with stiff challenges, including one from Lee Westwood, the world’s No. 3 player. Westwood is still alive in this thing, and he is the only other player left on Dove Mountain who can also claim the No. 1 ranking with a victory in the championship match.

Westwood is in the same side of the brackets as McIlroy. If they both win their next two matches, they’ll meet in the semifinals. The possibility world No. 4 Martin Kaymer will be waiting for one of them in the finals is very much in the works. This assumes much, but it’s all possible.

McIlroy defeated Anders Hansen 3 and 2 on Thursday. He will meet Miguel Angel Jimenez in the third round Friday. Jimenez just knocked off Keegan Bradley, who brought outstanding form to the desert this week.

“I’m pretty confident,” McIlroy said of his form. “I’m confident I can hang in there. I hit a few loose shots [today], but to play the way I have the first two days and get through two matches, it gives me a little bit of confidence.”

Westwood looked strong Thursday, defeating Robert Karlsson 3-and-2.

“The further you get, and the more you play, the more confident you become, and the more you get used to playing the golf course, the shots around the greens and the speeds of the greens,” Westwood said.

Surprisingly, this marks the first time in 12 Accenture Match Play Championships that Westwood has advanced to the third round. He will meet Nick Watney.

“It’s uncharted territory for me tomorrow,” Westwood said. “But it’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m pretty good in match play as the record suggests in other match play events. I feel the way I’m playing, I’ll be tough to beat.”

With McIlroy and Westwood, confidence is high, and they’ll need it to take the ultimate prize over the next three days.


Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Friday 2-6PM ET; Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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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

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Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

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Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

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Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

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Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

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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.