Two Roads Diverged

By Randall MellJuly 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
Four years ago, they stormed into the Buckeye State on sharply different paths but with something special in common.
Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie both had stardust on their heels.
They arrived at opposite ends of Ohio with big news on their minds.
Pressel was 17, a little more than a week removed from nearly winning the U.S. Womens Open. She was the nations top amateur when she marched into suburban Toledo for the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on a sponsors invite. She came announcing that she was petitioning the LPGA for a waiver of its restriction requiring members be at least 18 years old.
Since their early phenom careers, Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel have crossed paths many times. (Getty Images)
Wie was 15, making her news 150 miles south at Shakers Run Golf Club in Lebanon, where she was vying to win a Masters invite by trying to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
They were the hottest teen phenoms in golf, ambitious personalities with polar opposite ideas about how to reach their golf dreams.
Pressel was thundering along golfs traditional path, learning how to win beating juniors and amateurs. Wie was cutting her own path, playing against men and speaking openly about one day playing the PGA Tour.
The fact that no love was lost between them made the possibility of a future rivalry all that much more delicious.
Back then, when Pressel read that B.J. Wie was quoted saying his daughter viewed Tiger Woods as more Michelles rival than Annika Sorenstam, Pressel rolled her eyes.
I would like to see her promote the womens game versus trying to promote herself, Pressel said then.
Four years later, look whos back in Ohio together. Look whos on the leaderboard after the first round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
With her 7-under-par 64 Thursday, Pressel shares the lead with Laura Diaz and Song Hee Kim. Wies a shot back with Suzann Pettersen.
A few short years ago, the sight of Pressel and Wie on a leaderboard together would have jolted LPGA fans off their couches.
A rivalry between these phenoms seemed as inevitable as it was irresistible. Pressel and Wie looked like they were going to sweep the LPGA into a bright new future.
Yeah, its way too early to hope for a Sunday showdown at Highland Meadows Golf Club, but the LPGA could use a bright flash of hope to break the gathering gloom that yet more lousy sponsorship news brought this week. Players left the Wegmans LPGA last week uncertain if that event will be around next year. They arrived at the Jamie Farr to news that the Kapalua LPGA Classic is folding, and then on the eve of this weeks event, Jamie Farr himself said the chances his event will survive are no better than 50-50.
With so many other sponsorship issues brewing, the LPGA could use an exciting diversion this weekend.
While Pressel vs. Wie would be different now, it remains a compelling possibility.
Things have changed from their teen titan days. They actually like each other. They even tweet each other on Twitter.
Pressel, a two-time LPGA winner, is only 21, but shes remaking her game, revamping her swing and that comes with growing pains. Two years ago, she was No. 4 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, the highest ranked American.
Today, shes No. 37 in the world, but shes showing signs that her new swings coming together. She got herself in the final Sunday pairing last weekend at the Wegmans LPGA before fading in the rain. It was encouraging progress with her favorite event, the U.S. Womens Open, coming up next week.
On Thursday, Pressel played alongside world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa and No. 2 Yani Tseng and outplayed them both, bettering Ochoa by three shots and Tseng by four.
Wie, 19, has been up and down in her rookie year since finishing second in the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay. She failed to qualify for the U.S. Womens Open with a poor finish in the sectional qualifier in Maryland last month. A Wie victory this weekend would do more than get her into next weeks U.S. Womens Open. It holds the potential of reigniting Wie Mania.
It may be too much to hope for with so many other strong players in the mix, but should Pressel and Wie turn this event into a showdown, it would put more than a jolt into the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
It would put a jolt into the entire tour.
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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.