Cut Line Legends and Bodies
We begin this week’s edition with a man who spent the better part of the last half century searching for the truth, and end it with a man who decided truth is a matter of political expediency.
Furman Bisher: Late in the summer of 2006 and just down the road from Royal Yellow Brick Road (aka Hoylake) a colleague spotted the deans of golf writing, Dan Jenkins and Bisher, having drinks and holding court in a local pub.
Two hours later more than a century of sports writing packed up and headed home and the history lesson they left behind, from Hogan to Jones to Cobb, was worth the late night, to say nothing of the Transatlantic flight, bad food and roundabouts.
On Sunday Bisher penned his final column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and already press rooms from Torrey Pines to TPC Sawgrass seem less welcoming.
For 59 years Bisher was the voice of Atlanta sports, covering Super Bowls and Olympics and World Series with equal parts creativity and depth of knowledge. But it was his presence at Augusta National that will be missed the most. Bisher may not have coined the sports writing staple, “swans to Capistrano,” but he used it more artfully than any other to refer to golf’s annual Masters migration.
Fittingly, Bisher’s final literary turn for the Journal-Constitution was written on his trusty Royal typewriter and came complete with a familiar ending – Selah.
The Body: A threesome of LPGA players were among the athletes who went “Henrik Stenson” for ESPN The Magazine’s now-annual “Body” issue.
Some will twist this into something undignified or banal, while others will applaud the LPGA trio for bringing some much-needed attention to a sport that has suffered more than its share of body blows this season. Lost amid the cacophony of the debate, however, will be a new perspective of professional golfers as athletes. Although a running joke in mainstream sports circles, anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in the Tour’s travelling gym can attest – these guys are good and, regardless of stereotype, are in good shape.
Of course, the Tour can hold off on supplemental performance-enhancing drug testing, the issue also includes “athletes” from table tennis and sumo wrestling.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
John Daly: Another 180 from JD should come as no surprise. A healthy, happy and controversy-free Daly is good for the game, as well as the Tour, but his announcement this week that he would play the Viking Classic later this month doesn’t pass the sniff test.
According to Daly his injuries have healed enough thanks to stem cell injections that his doctors cleared him to play and he quickly accepted a sponsor’s invitation for the Viking. Yet at 215th in earnings (with about $68K) there is little chance he will convert the freebie into a 2010 Tour card and he said in a recent interview that he will use the start to test new wedges with next year’s conforming grooves.
Daly also has taken another pass on going to Q-School to reclaim his playing privileges, all of which doesn’t sound like a man on a card quest. Daly may be good for the gate, but wouldn’t that exemption feel better if it went to a player who was serious about earning or keeping a Tour card?
Justin Timberlake: The host with the most is putting on a good show in a town that knows a thing or two about star power, and practice range scuttlebutt has it the Las Vegas stop, thanks to Timberlake’s work and cache, could land a spot in the FedEx Cup schedule on future calendars. But the entertainer went sideways when he compared himself to the uber-cool “Rat Pack.”
“I'm kind of intrigued by the fact that maybe we can bring that type of synergy and that type of style, that type of legend about the game in modern day,” Timberlake said. “I just have to find three or four other guys who can really get out there and play and who love it, who can play the part and dress the part.”
You’re cool, baby, but Sinatra? Martin? Davis Jr.? Really?
The economy: After 42 years one of the Tour’s lunchbox events took a 10-count this week, the victim of a sagging economy and an undesirable date on the circuit’s crowded mid-summer docket.
The charity that ran the Tour’s Milwaukee stop announced this week they would dissolve and the scramble to replace U.S. Bank, which did not pick up its three-year title sponsor option after this year’s playing, appears over.
A spot on the schedule alongside the British Open made Milwaukee something of a competitive afterthought, but it seems like a melancholy swansong for an event that gave us “Hello, world” in 1996 for Tiger Woods’ professional debut.
Officials were hopeful the tournament could return to the fold in 2011 and “Cut Line” can think of one possible winning scenario – The Steve Stricker Invitational.
Robert Allenby: Waxed 5 and 3 in Sunday singles, it seems the Aussie waxed a few minutes too long outside the International side’s cabin at Harding Park last weekend.
There is no question the Aussie out-punted his coverage when he labeled Anthony Kim, his Sunday singles opponent, the “John Daly” of the new generation and said the young American was out until 4 a.m. on the eve of the final matches.
The Tour, Allenby, Kim and golf would have been better off if Allenby would have pleaded “no comment” and joined his teammates on the bus, but the forced, Tour-driven public apology simply gave the row more legs, and his claim that his comments were “taken out of context” begs the question: in what context should they have been taken?
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
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
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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.