Thank You Notes

By Randall MellDecember 23, 2009, 5:59 am

With so much gloom and doom reported in December, here are notes of thanks to players who provided us some levity in 2009.

Dear Henrik Stenson:

In these hard times, it was encouraging that you could joke about losing your shirt in the Stanford Financial mess. It was, however, flat-out inspiring to see you laugh about losing everything but your boxers and your golf glove at the third hole at Doral. You did that in the first round of the CA Championship in March. Thanks for showing us that if you’re going to get caught with your pants down, it’s better to do it on the golf course, for all the world to see, than in a church parking lot, for a lone photographer to witness. It felt so much better knowing we were laughing with you when you disrobed to hit a shot from the water. There was no guilt or remorse in our laughter when late night comics had their way with you. We knew you were having more fun with it than we were.


Dear Denis Watson:

Though you’ve known a lot of pain in your career, from blown-out joints to heartache, thanks for the sense of humor you’ve offered along your journey, even in your failure this year. After starting the final round too far back to win at the Allianz Championship in your South Florida backyard in February, you shared how your wife, Susan, rooted you around while your five children decided they would stay at home.

“The Valentine’s card they got me said `Play better, Dad,’” you told us.

We knew you were joking, and we laughed with you.


Dear Lance Ten Broeck:

You made us think that that the PGA Tour’s old slogan “These guys are good” ought to extend to the caddies. You made us chuckle at the Valero Texas Open in May not just by becoming the first to play and caddie in the same PGA Tour event, but by beating your boss by three shots. Toting a bag, you helped Jesper Parnevik shoot 70-74. After borrowing a “mystery collection” of clubs, Tag Ridings’ putter, golf shoes from David Duval and a golf glove from Lee Janzen, you shot 71-70 on your own ball. Thanks for showing off in a way that had to make your caddie colleagues proud, if not Parnevik a little embarrassed.


Dear Laura Davies:

Thanks for being one of the best interviews in golf and someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously. With cameras running, you surprised a lot of folks at the Solheim Cup in August when you revealed you weren’t interested in being the European captain someday. “It looks like hard work, and I’ve always shied away from hard work,” you said. We all laughed in the interview room, but we also hoped you would change your mind.


Dear Anthony Kim:

We know current events are not your strong suit. If we didn’t know, we did after you were asked earlier this year how you thought the lousy state of the economy would affect the PGA Tour. “At one of the tournaments this year, we didn’t have courtesy cars,” you said. “From what I hear from people a lot smarter than me, the car industry is really having a tough time right now.” Don’t worry, Anthony, keep setting records in majors for birdies – 11 in the second round of this year’s Masters – and you’ll get the last laugh.


Dear Kenny G:

Thanks for hitting the right notes when you played the Honda Classic in March. We’re not talking about your work on the saxophone for children in the Nicklaus’ charity, though that was a terrific deal for the event. We’re talking about how you aptly summed up the game’s challenge by comparing it to music, or any other profession. “Here’s the thing about golf,” you told us. “You can practice and not get better. If you practice a musical instrument, you’re going to get better.”


Dear Michael J. Fox:

Though battling Parkinson’s disease, you saw the truths that make golf appealing to Kenny G and the rest of us. Asked about your affinity for the game at the Principal Charity Classic in West Des Moines, Iowa, you said: “Golf gives you a new opportunity to fail every couple minutes, but it gives you an opportunity to succeed every couple minutes, too.” You also joked about your reaction to teachers who stress the importance of staying still over the ball. If you can laugh, so can we. Thanks for permission to laugh at ourselves, even when it hurts.


Dear Gary Player:

Your tireless devotion to fitness and your competitive spirit continued to inspire us this year. At the Masters, your last year as a competitor there, you were asked if you would like to join Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter someday. “Would I?” you bellowed. “Of course, I would. I’ll even exercise harder to make sure I outdrive Arnold.” With Jack Nicklaus joining Palmer now, we’ll be eager to see if you’ll be getting your wish soon. Thanks for motivating us all with the idea that we’re never too old to take on a challenge.


Dear Charles Barkley:

Thanks for sharing your struggles and pain with us on The Haney Project. We don’t feel so bad about our games now. We admire how much you love the game, in spite of what it’s doing to you. “Little old ladies walking the street want to give me advice,” you said. “Everybody gives me advice. It’s hilarious.” The fact that you can laugh at your swing makes us feel a lot better about our swings.


Dear Padraig Harrington:

After missing five straight cuts, you channeled Charles Barkley for us. “My driver is an office club at the moment,” you said. “It works 9 to 5 and never on weekends.” We probably drive you batty analyzing your swing to death. But while we know how dedicated to improvement you are, we thank you for not taking the game or yourself too seriously.


Dear Phil Mickelson:

Following you on the back nine of the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship, we got a first-hand glimpse why galleries so adore you. Sensing some fatigue, you turned to the gallery and declared that an energy boost was required. Like the Pied Piper, you waved for all of us to follow you to the concession stand, where you bought hot dogs and hamburgers for your pro-am partners and anyone in the gallery who wanted to eat. Thanks for making the Mickelson experience so satisfying.

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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 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.