America's Ryder Cup future depends on new blood

By Randall MellOctober 30, 2014, 5:06 pm

The first thing the American Ryder Cup task force should look at is the one thing Tom Watson got right.

Watson’s boldest move wasn’t benching Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for all of Saturday in the United States’ loss in Scotland last month. It was seeing that the next generation of young stars is the best hope American has in cleaning up this Ryder Cup mess.

Watson’s boldest move was pairing rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

His next boldest move was sending them off first and second in Sunday singles with Rickie Fowler right behind them.

Watson was desperate at that point, but maybe it took being there for him to finally see the real solution was investing in the fresh, new faces before him. Not just young faces, but new blood, like 35-year-old Jimmy Walker, who played well in Scotland.

So with this new wraparound PGA Tour season already rolling, the hope for an American Ryder Cup turnaround may ride more on what fresh, new faces step up this season than on anything the PGA of America’s task forces does.

There’s this little international team event known as the Presidents Cup that will serve as a nice warm up next year for evolving American talent with an eye toward the 2016 Ryder Cup. Will Chris Kirk continue to develop and make the U.S. Presidents Cup team? He’s 29. Will Billy Horschel? He’s 27.

The Presidents Cup will be staged at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon in October of next year. With the PGA Tour beginning its fall Asian swing at the CIMB Classic this week, it’s a good time to look at which up-and-comers may be best equipped to try and make their first U.S. team when the Americans return to Asia for the Presidents Cup next year.

The candidates:

• Billy Horschel, 27 – The FedEx Cup champion wants to parlay his confidence and momentum from the playoffs into success on larger stages. He has soared to No. 13 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s the highest ranked American who hasn’t made a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team. His FedEx Cup playoff victories at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in September portend greater success.

• Chris Kirk, 29 – Watson skipped over him making his captain’s picks, which ought to provide an extra dose of motivation for Kirk to try to qualify for the American Presidents Cup team on points. There’s a long, long way to go, but he’s fourth on the points list heading to the CIMB Classic. With Kirk at No. 23 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Horschel is the only American who ranks ahead of him who hasn’t made a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team.

• Brooks Koepka, 24 –Maybe all that experience earning his stripes on the European Tour and Challenge Tour will bring some other Euro mojo with him. Koepka has a flair for the dramatic, winning his PGA Tour card the hard way earlier this year. He tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, winning his PGA Tour card through non-member winnings. He tied for 15th at the PGA Championship.

• Russell Henley, 25 –There are flashes of the spectacular in this guy, who won in his PGA Tour rookie debut, breaking the Sony Open scoring record by four shots. He beat an all-star field, including Rory McIlroy in a four-man playoff, in winning the Honda Classic in the spring.

• Harris English, 25 – With victories in each of the last two seasons and seven top-10 finishes a year ago, English is an emerging young talent looking to take another step up in class this season. He’s a big hitter who hits a lot of greens and makes a lot of putts. It’s a formidable combination.

• Gary Woodland, 30 –The big hitting two-time PGA Tour winner is steadily climbing his way back into the game's big picture.

• Morgan Hoffmann, 25 – Was that improbable FedEx Cup charge - going from No. 124 before the playoffs to inside the top 30 at the Tour Championship - a precursor to a swifter, greater climb this season?

There is other promise in the talents of Brendon Todd, Ben Martin, Erik Compton, Robert Streb, Brian Harman, Matt Every and Kevin Chappell. This early start to the wraparound season is an opportunity for these guys to follow Jimmy Walker’s lead last year and make early impressions.

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.

Getty Images

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.

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.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.