Where in the World is Woods

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2011, 6:57 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match Play

MARANA, Ariz. – Phil Mickelson vs. Rickie Fowler is good fun all by itself.

Two charismatic West Coast players from different generations will square off Thursday in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship.

That’s what a tough and gritty first round of matches gave us Wednesday at The Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

It also brought us more angst about where Tiger Woods’ game is headed with Woods being eliminated by Thomas Bjorn.

It delivered signs that a changing of the guard may be imminent with so much young talent making statements.

And it revealed that world No. 1 Lee Westwood is feeling like he deserves a little more respect.

Here’s a rundown of highlights and lowlights from Day 1 in the desert:

WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
(All times Eastern)

Golf Channel_new
Thurs: 1-6 p.m.
Fri: 1-6 p.m.
Sat: Noon-2 p.m.
Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

NBC Sports
Sat: 2-6 p.m.

Sun: 2-6 p.m.

Tiger bounced in another setback

When Woods pushed his tee shot right and into the desert scrub brush with a 3-wood to lose at the 19th hole, he brought more scrutiny over where his game’s headed as he builds a new swing.

Even Tiger’s former swing coach weighed in with skepticism.

“For all the talk of Tiger’s poor driving the last six years,” Hank Haney wrote on his Twitter account, “I have never seen him drive it out of play with a match or tournament on the line.”

After defeating Woods, Bjorn appeared to give the 14-time major championship winner a spirited pep talk as they shook hands.

“That’s between me and Tiger,” Bjorn said. “What I will say is that the game of golf needs him back at his best. I want to see him back at his best because I think it’s much more fun to go up against him when he’s absolutely at his peak.”

Bjorn acknowledged it wasn’t a pretty victory.

“You just didn’t know what was going to happen, didn’t know who was going to hit a bad shot next,” Bjorn said. “It was one of those days where we’re not proud of the way we played, but I’m proud of the way I hung in there.”

Woods, a three-time winner of the Accenture, leaves after the first round for just the second time in his 10 starts.

Tiger’s slide in world rankings

With his first-round elimination, Woods will bump down at least one spot in the world rankings to No. 4 next week and could slide as far as No. 8.

No. 4 Graeme McDowell, a 3-and-2 winner against Heath Slocum, is a lock to move ahead of Woods in the next rankings.

No. 5 Mickelson, No. 6 Paul Casey, No. 7 Rory McIlroy and No. 9 Luke Donald all have chances to move ahead of Woods.

Mickelson vs. Fowler

There’s more than a ticket to the third round in the offering if Mickelson defeats Fowler Thursday. There’s passage to a place Mickelson hasn’t been in almost 14 years.

If Mickelson defeats Fowler, he’s guaranteed to move ahead of Tiger Woods in the world rankings.

Mickelson, 40, hasn’t ranked ahead of Woods since April 6, 1997, the week before Woods won his first Masters in that 12-shot romp.

Mickelson’s got to get through Fowler to get past Woods, and Fowler’s proving a formidable match-play opponent in his fledgling professional career.

No. 1 wanting a little more love

Lee Westwood, holding the top spot in the world rankings for a 17th consecutive week, played well in his 3-and-2 victory against former Accenture champ Henrik Stenson.

Westwood, though, wondered afterward via Twitter if anyone noticed.

Apparently, he was informed he didn’t get much TV time.

“For anybody wondering, I am playing in the Match Play,” Westwood wrote. “And I did win 3 and 2. Thanks Golf Channel.”

Little respect for elders

Matteo Manassero, the youngest player ever to qualify for the Accenture at 17, defeated 44-year-old Steve Stricker.

It was Stricker’s birthday Wednesday.

“Heck of a scalp you’ve taken there,” a European Tour media rep told Manassero opening the post-match news conference.

“I am surprised because I beat the eighth-ranked player in the world,” Manassero said. “It’s a big achievement for me.”

Manassero is now the youngest player to win a match.

Among the youth advancing with Manassero: Jason Day (23), Fowler (22) and McIlroy (21).

Roaring Rory

In a rapid fire prediction column for the 32 first-round matches, this writer picked Rory McIlroy to lose.

Actually, the pick was that a player who’s won twice in his last six PGA Tour starts (Jonathan Byrd) would win.

McIlroy was impressive, defeating Byrd, 4 and 2, prompting this writer to pledge to go home tonight and write 100 times, “I will not pick against Rory McIlroy again.” It’s penance for poor prognostication. McIlroy can move to No. 3 in the world with a victory, and he’s looking like one of the top three players in the world already.


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.