U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock in 2018

By Randall MellJune 15, 2011, 4:56 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club played host to one of the U.S. Open’s most controversially difficult championships seven years ago.

Apparently, the wounds have all healed with the U.S. Golf Association announcing Wednesday that the U.S. Open will return to the venue in 2018. The historic golf course in the town of Southampton on Long Island in New York will host the championship for the fifth time.

Shinnecock Hills last hosted the U.S. Open in 2004, when Retief Goosen survived a brutal test marred by the fury of angry players critical of the difficult setup. Nobody broke par in that final round, the first time that had happened in 41 U.S. Opens. The final-round scoring average of 78.72 was the highest in 31 years. Twenty-eight players failed to break 80.

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis acknowledged Wednesday that the return to Shinnecock Hills is a chance to trump those ’04 memories.

“When we think of Shinnecock, we think of one of the great, great golf courses in the world,” Davis said. “There is a reason it's ranked in everybody's top 10 in the so called best golf courses in the world.  We think it is, and we think it's a great championship course as well as a great architectural golf course.

“It's one of our five founding clubs, so it's near and dear to the USGA. So I think for a lot of us, we wanted to get back to Shinnecock in the worst way and kind of get back on the horse, if you will, and prove what a great, great venue it is. What happened in '04 was simply an error in judgment in terms of water management on how we set the golf course up. This one is going to be very special for that reason, as well as just how great Shinnecock is as a golf course. Any time we can play a U.S. Open on a sand-based, sandy-loamed soil is a great thing, and then you add the wind to it, I think it'll be fabulous.”

The player backlash in that ’04 U.S. Open was focused on the nature of the greens, with complaints that the USGA lost control of them creating brick-hard surfaces that rolled to absurd speeds. Kevin Stadler watched his 3-foot putt at the seventh green roll off the green in the final round. Bo Van Pelt needed six putts to hole out at the fourth green. Chris Riley putted off the first green.

Players fumed afterward.

“I just wanted to walk off the course,” Stadler said back then.

Jerry Kelly spoke for a lot of players after he shot 81.

“They’re ruining the game,” Kelly said. “It’s a little comical. If they were smart, they’d realize they look really stupid.”

The problems endured in that U.S. Open led the USGA to publish a 14-point system governing their championship setup philosophy. It should be noted that Davis took control of championship setups in '06 and has garnered rave reviews among players.

Goosen held off a Phil Mickelson charge to win that ‘04 U.S. Open. James Foulis won the U.S. Open when it was first played at Shinnecock in 1896. Raymond Floyd won it there in 1986, Corey Pavin in 1995.

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.