Still Knocking on the Door

By Randall MellJune 11, 2010, 6:06 pm

Laura Davies should be one of the most tormented souls in women’s golf.

If she snapped golf clubs over her knees at every tournament, or tossed them into lakes along her way, who could blame her?

For almost 10 stinking years, Davies has figuratively played her way to the front door of the LPGA Hall of Fame, ringing the door bell and rattling the door knob in bids to gain entry to an establishment that remains closed to her.

Since 2001, Davies has been two agonizing points shy of gaining entry to the revered home of greatness. That’s when she won the Wegmans Rochester International, her last LPGA title.

With 25 Hall of Fame points, Davies needs to win two more LPGA events or one major championship to gain the 27 points needed to qualify for induction as an active tour member.

With a 4-under-par 68 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA State Farm Classic, Davies makes us wonder if she is ready to rattle door knobs again.

If Davies turns back the clock and wins, she would be 46 years, 8 months and 8 days old when she hoisted the trophy on Sunday. That would make her 21 days younger than Beth Daniel was when she became the oldest winner of an LPGA event at the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003.

With Juli Inkster, 49, also in the hunt in Springfield, Ill., we could be treated to a delightfully entertaining throwback weekend.

Yes, the odds are against it with so many gifted young players on the rise, but the ageless duo is showing something already this season. They’re showing more than good form.

Davies, whose 74 worldwide titles includes four LPGA major championships, has already won twice overseas this year. She won the New Zealand Women’s Open in February and the Ladies German Open last month. She was runner-up to Yani Tseng at the Australian Women’s Open in March.

Since her last LPGA victory, Davies has won 10 international titles that don’t count toward LPGA Hall of Fame membership and finished second in five LPGA events.

So being on the doorstep for so long must torment her, right?

“Not really,” Davies said Thursday when asked if she thinks about Hall of Fame membership. “There’s enough pressure out here every week without worrying about the ultimate prize. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve had a good run of it. If I come up short, that’s how it is.”

Tormented? Deep down, maybe, but we’ll never really know. The deal with Davies is that the close calls never appear to stick with her. That’s because she’s delightfully distracted.

Davies has always enjoyed her life beyond the game. She knows how to have fun even when her golf ball’s misbehaving. She’s a diehard soccer fan who was once fined by the Ladies European Tour for watching England play Spain on a portable television in the middle of the final round of the Evian Masters. She would hit a shot, then flip on her television. An avid gambler, she was once a bookmaker’s assistant who has owned race horses and lots of fast sports cars in her life.

Someday, Davies should have her big Hall of Fame party whether she gets to 27 HOF points or not. She should be a shoe-in to get in via the veterans category if she doesn’t play her way in, but there might be a long wait. She can’t gain entry that way until five years after she’s no longer an active player and she fully intends to play well into her 50s.

In the mean time, Davies will be more than a sentimental favorite when the LPGA Championship is played in two weeks in Rochester, N.Y. A two-time LPGA Championship winner, she’ll also be a past champion at Locust Hill Country Club. Her last LPGA title at Wegmans came on that course.

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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.