Award Season Blunder

By Rex HoggardNovember 12, 2009, 3:53 am

PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Paul Azinger’s name is etched into it, as is John Daly’s and Peter Jacobsen’s. Steve Stricker’s on there too, twice, in consecutive years no less.

The circuit’s “Comeback Player of the Year” award dates back to 1991, hardly hallowed ground in a sport that keeps time in eons, but it is enough history to prompt a double take when news surfaced this week that there will be no engraving in 2009 barring a miracle performance by the game’s walking miracle on a corner of central Florida turf that bills itself the place “where dreams come true.”

But before we put too much pressure on Erik Compton, the double heart transplant recipient and perhaps the only player that could prompt the circuit to revive the honor in ’09, the curious case of the missing miracle must be examined.

According to a Tour official, the 16-member Player Advisory Council “has the discretion to determine that the Comeback POY not be awarded in a given year if they feel there are no viable candidates.”

Barring a Compton “W” at WDW, the ballots for Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year will be finalized next week without a CPOY option and there are no plans to “provide a space on the ballot for write in votes.”

While we agree there may not be an obvious choice – say, like, Stricker in 2007 after he’d already won the award in 2006 – but count the PAC some kind of tough crowd if six victories in 17 starts (Tiger Woods) following ACL surgery doesn’t rate at least a nomination. Or two titles and a major keepsake after failing to keep your Tour card (Y.E. Yang) can’t move the needle, or the pen.

The Woods nomination for CPOY seemed to run into a filibuster early, with the logic being that it’s hard to come back from a historic victory at the U.S. Open, to say nothing of that victory-victory-victory start that prefaced his Torrey Pines brilliance.

“He doesn’t care (about CPOY),” Heath Slocum said. “He cares about the Vardon Trophy and the Player of the Year (award).”

Truth is Woods is likely more concerned about tonight’s dinner plans in Australia than he is his dwindling CPOY chances, but that logic misses the distance travelled by the world No. 1 since Torrey Pines. ACL surgery, recovery from a broken leg and a reworked action aimed at taking pressure off that battered left knee and Woods himself has admitted he didn’t know what to expect in 2009 add up to one compelling comeback, if not an original HBO production.

He may not be the leading candidate for the Waterford crystal, but excluding his name from the conversation dismisses how hard Woods had to work to return to his world-beating form.

For most players, however, Woods’ name on the CPOY crystal seems to stretch the definition of the award, if not the bounds of logic.

“It’s not like he was hurting, at least competitively, when he went down,” said Brad Faxon, a member of the Tour’s Policy Board. “He was the No. 1 player in the world at the time and didn’t drop out of that spot.”

But all of this does little to explain Yang’s snub. In 2008 the Korean finished 157th in earnings and needed five of six rounds in the 60s to finish tied for 18th at Q-School to secure his job. His Honda Classic victory should have been enough to put Yang’s name on a CPOY ballot, but that mano a mano masterpiece at Hazeltine National with Woods should have made this year’s award a non-story – box it up and send it to Dallas via Seoul.

A sampling of PAC members on Tuesday at Disney would indicate many agree.

“I nominated Y.E. Yang,” said PAC member Ted Purdy. “He went from losing his card to winning a tournament and a major. That’s pretty good.”

D.A. Points, another member of the PAC, also said he nominated at least two players for the CPOY award, himself and David Duval, but was aware of the resistance by some members not to nominate a candidate.

“I saw (one PAC member) write down on his ballot, ‘This is a meaningless category,” Points said. “I understand that, sometimes names just don’t jump out at you, but I just didn’t feel like I should make that call not to give out the award.”

Davis Love III, a PAC member this year who will join the three other player directors on the Policy Board next year, said he was called by a Tour official last week to nominate a Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidate, but wasn’t asked about the CPOY ballot.

“That’s weird,” Love said.

Weird, and wrong. Woods and Yang may somehow miss the CPOY mold, but removing them from the conversation altogether cheapens their accomplishments. And that’s not right.

Getty Images

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.

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.