Taming Tumult

By Randall MellFebruary 11, 2011, 6:52 pm

BOCA RATON, Fla. – When asked the secret to his long success, Bernhard Langer surprises you with his answer.

Yes, he lists reasons you would suspect – good health, hard work and loving support – but he turns hard in a direction you didn’t see coming.

Langer, 53, tells you the lack of major emotional upheaval in his life, the lack of any enduring personal strife, helped keep his path clear to the 83 professional titles and trophies he’s won over 30-plus years.

Bernhard Langer swings golf club
A stable home life has helped Bernhard Langer be successful on the course. (Getty Images)
“It’s not one element,” Langer said on the eve of his title defense at the Allianz Championship at The Old Course at Broken Sound. “It’s a whole mosaic. I haven’t had marital problems, or a divorce. I’ve had the same coach for 35 years. I’ve had the same manager for 35 years. I’ve had the same wife for 27 years. Obviously, I’ve had to work hard on my game, but I think if other areas of your life are not right, you will have a hard time concentrating and performing.”

Langer is evidence that stability in one’s personal life can be as helpful to a golf swing as proper alignment and a sound swing plane.

“I like harmony in my life,” says Langer, the two-time Masters champ seeking to win the Champions Tour’s Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Award for a fourth consecutive season. “I don’t like strife or conflict.”

When Mark Calcavecchia sees Langer, he sees an advantage every player craves.

“Bernhard shows up every single day with such a clear mind,” Calcavecchia says.

Marital woes.

Dying parents.

Rebellious teenagers at home.

Financial woes.

Those are the unseen hazards that can rob shots and titles from the toughest pros.

In a sport where the mind wanders on long walks between shots, the most skilled eye can’t always see why shots sail off course.

While tour pros will tell you they can’t relate to the monumental tumult Tiger Woods has battled in a bid to find his winning form, they understand how turmoil challenges performance. Nobody’s focus is immune from that.

“We’ve all seen it in the last 15 months, how when there’s drama outside, it’s difficult, very difficult,” said John Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and friend of Woods. “Golf is so mental, at the professional level, where if you don’t have that peace, it’s tough.”

Larry Nelson, a three-time major champion, says tour pros are remarkably skilled at blocking out problems in their lives when they step inside the ropes. But he says it’s prolonged emotional upheaval that erodes defenses and makes the game harder.

“You can be mentally tough golf wise,” Nelson said. “But if you’re mentally exhausted, it’s hard. I think that does play a big role in how a guy’s career goes. If you have a lot of emotional stuff over a long time, it wears you out.”

At the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness in 2003, Nelson arrived after burying his father. He spent 21 days at his father’s side before the death.

“I was fine going to play, I was excited about getting to play, I was ready to play, but I was just mentally exhausted,” Nelson said. “When you’re worrying about something for three or four months, you don’t have the mentally energy you need.”

Cook married his high-school sweetheart, Jan. They’ve been married 31 years and have raised three children. He says he understands exactly what Langer’s saying about how important stability’s been to a good golf game.

“Home’s always my comfort zone,” Cook said. “Whenever things have gone bad out here, I go home knowing I can re-group, that there’s peace at home.”

While Cook says he’s enjoyed a strong family life, he says the drama that came with raising teenagers tested his focus from time to time over the years.

“There have been issues, kids growing up, that throw you off,” Cook said.

Cook said even ordinary family drama can “zap confidence” when you’re away from loved ones.

So next time you see a tour pro hitting it sideways, be careful what you assume. Sometimes, it’s the heart that’s temporarily misaligned, not the feet.



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.