Stand and Deliver

By Randall MellSeptember 13, 2010, 4:41 am
BMW ChampionshipLEMONT, Ill. –  There were no demons haunting Dustin Johnson down the stretch Sunday at the BMW Championship.

No wicked memories banging about his head in a bid to ruin another ending.

No hint that some unrepaired crack in his armor was going to split wide open with the pressure building yet again.

“He was singing some Usher song the last two holes,” said his caddie, Bobby Brown. “I’ve never worked for a cooler customer.”

Johnson said he was singing lyrics from Usher’s song 'OMG.'

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson captured his second victory of the 2010 PGA Tour season at the BMW Championship. (Getty Images)
“I got that song stuck in my head,” Johnson, 26, said after winning the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs at Cog Hill in Chicago. “I was definitely singing it over golf shots today.”

'OMG' is a love song, and maybe that was fitting, because Johnson’s been feeding off the love from the Midwestern crowds in his first return to this part of the country since he lost the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in heart-wrenching fashion last month.

“It seems like 99 out of 100 people are cheering for him,” Brown said.

Fans have been rooting hard for Johnson to overcome the controversial blow that led to his loss at Whistling Straits, the penalty for grounding a club in a bunker that his caddie still insists wasn’t really a bunker at the final hole of the PGA Championship.

“It wasn’t a bunker!” has become the rallying cry Johnson keeps hearing out here.

“Hear it about every hole,” Johnson said.

Brown can smile hearing it now, but he got as much heat as Johnson for failing to recognize his player was standing in a bunker in that ending to the PGA Championship, albeit a bunker that was crowded with golf patrons.

“I will be the first one to tell you I think we were in a wash-out area left of that bunker at Whistling Straits,” Brown said as he packed up his player’s bag after Sunday’s victory, the fourth of Johnson’s young career and his second this season. “That’s all I can say.”

Brown will tell you Johnson carries no bitterness about that ruling, nor does he protect tender scars from his U.S. Open loss in June. Johnson’s blowing the final-round lead at Pebble Beach had to be nearly as painful as the PGA Championship loss. He went from three shots up to three shots down in dizzying speed over the first four holes that head-spinning Sunday three months ago.

Two crushing major championship losses in one summer are enough to crush the spirit of the strongest player. Golf’s seen players disappear after less.

“He’s gone through a lot,” said Paul Casey, who finished a shot back of Johnson and knows something about trying to rebound from heartache. Casey played himself into contention this weekend in the wake of his disappointment over being passed up as a captain’s pick for the European Ryder Cup team.

It’s a testament to Johnson’s unbreakable spirit that he’s come back to win a big event so quickly. And make no mistake, Sunday’s BMW Championship was large. Johnson leaped to second on the FedEx Cup points list going to the Tour Championship in two weeks. He trails only Matt Kuchar in his bid to win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million jackpot that goes with it. He’s also now in position to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors.

“I think this is the biggest win for sure,” Johnson said.

The way Johnson closed at Cog Hill made the victory all the more satisfying.

He did it fearlessly, attacking with his driver over the final two holes when the pressure was the greatest. That’s the club that failed him at the finish at Whistling Straits. He wouldn’t have been in that controversial spot in a “bunker” if he hadn’t hit his driver so wildly to the right.

Tied for the lead with Casey at the 17th hole Sunday at Cog Hill, Johnson cut the corner of the dogleg there with a 308-yard cut that he held against the wind. His controlled rocket split the fairway. With a 54-degree wedge in hand, Johnson delicately coaxed a shot to 2 feet to set up what would prove to be the winning birdie.

At the 18th, Johnson didn’t hesitate plucking driver from his bag yet again. He launched this drive 315 yards, holding a cut into a crosswind yet again. He hit the fairway there, too.

“He nutted driver,” Brown said.

That shot's a testament to his nerve because he's just learning to trust the fade under the tutelage of his new coach, Butch Harmon. The shot set up a smart approach to the safe side of the 18th green and a solid two-putt for the win.

“To finally get it done, especially after all the things I’ve gone through this summer, to finally get it done on Sunday, it can’t feel any better,” Johnson said.

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.

Getty Images

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 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.