Threes Company

By Randall MellApril 7, 2010, 1:48 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Matt Kuchar got the news as he walked off the first tee in his practice round Tuesday at Augusta National.

K.J. Choi received word as he played the 14th hole.

They were informed that they were being paired with Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the Masters.

The club official delivering the news was not dressed like the Grim Reaper.

He did not offer them blindfolds and cigarettes.

If this were any other tournament, the news might have come with an overwhelming sense of doom over their chances of contending.

If they were paired with Woods in his return to golf anywhere but the Masters, they would be dealing with the possibility of playing through the wildest circus golf’s ever seen. Booing, heckling and taunting might be mixed between the shot making anywhere except here.

But within the walls of Augusta National, decorum promises to rule among Masters patrons who have politely and respectfully welcomed Woods back to the game in his practice rounds this week.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Kuchar said while making the turn to the back nine of his practice round on Tuesday. “If there’s any place to be paired with him with big crowds, it’s here.”

The strict code of conduct expected of Masters patrons assures this will be the most controlled environment Woods could make his return. Plus, Augusta National does not allow media inside the ropes as other PGA Tour events do. There won’t be the scrambling inside the ropes among a legion of photographers getting into position.

“I’m happy to be playing with Tiger,” Choi said. “This is good news. I hope what happens outside the ropes is left outside the ropes. I think people are educated enough to respect that.”

Woods goes off with Kuchar and Choi at 1:42 p.m. on Thursday and 10:35 a.m. on Friday.

Kuchar said he was not contacted by Augusta National officials to gauge his interest in playing with Woods.

While this might be the best venue to be paired with Woods, the Masters still holds its challenges. There will be an overpowering sense of irrelevance for Kuchar and Choi to battle with such intense interest in Woods.

Kuchar acknowledged that coming to the Masters he was wary of the possibility of being the first player to be paired with Woods since the scandal over Woods’ marital infidelities broke, but Kuchar said he’s glad the pairing is here. Kuchar said he spent time between shots Tuesday remembering what it was like when he was first paired with Woods at the ’98 Masters. Kuchar was the reigning U.S. Amateur champ back then, Woods the defending Masters champ.

“I’ve been kind of reliving ’98,” Kuchar said.

They are good memories. Kuchar shot 72 in that first pairing, Woods a 71. Kuchar made the cut and tied for 21st.

“Tiger was great to play with,” Kuchar said. “I was nervous. I was nervous to be an amateur around here, nervous to be a first-timer around here and nervous to play with Tiger. I’ve only been paired with him twice, and he’s been great to play with both times. I always anticipated that he’d be really intense and not very easy to play with but he was fun to play with.”

Kuchar said there’s a more difficult position Thursday and Friday than his pairing with Woods.

“Word has it that it’s easier to play with him than in the group in front of him, and I believe it,” Kuchar said. “I played one year at the U.S. Open in the group in front of him. There’s a lot more commotion, people jockeying for position more. [When you are paired with him], they have already solidified their position when his group gets there.”

That brings us to Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter and Yuta Ikeda. They’re in the threesome that will tee off directly in front of Woods.

“I don't think it's going to be that big of a deal,” Stricker said. “There's a lot of strict policies here. There's no running up and down the fairways. It's pretty calm. Typically, each green is loaded with people anyway. It doesn't matter when you go out there. It's five people deep up at each green. So there will be a lot of people around. I think if there’s anywhere you want to be paired ahead of him, this would probably be it. I don't think it's going to be that different for us in the group ahead.”

Stricker is going to make the best of it, but if you’re a Stricker fan, you can’t be happy. Stricker is in good form having won in Los Angeles earlier this year. He’s got himself into contention most every time he has teed it up this season. He’s 43 and coming off his best finish in the Masters last year (T-6). This might be his best chance to win here.

Poulter is taking an almost combatively positive approach to his position in front of Woods.

“It’s not tough, it’s fun,” he said. “I have no problem where I tee off. It’s going to be good.”

An incredulous reporter asked why he felt that way.

“Because I’m playing golf this week,” he said. “I don’t really care where I tee off, whether it’s with Tiger, 10 groups behind Tiger or 21 in front. They are very respectful fans inside these gates, and they will be respectful on the golf course. It really doesn’t matter where you play.”

So hold onto those blindfolds and cigarettes. They’ll need them when Woods makes his return to a regular PGA Tour stop.

Getty Images

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

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


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

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


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

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


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

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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.