Cut Line Windy City blown away by IOC
While millionaires playing for a $10 million Christmas bonus proved to be compelling television, slightly-less-wealthy pros playing for their jobs is as real as it gets. Keeping track of earnings, as opposed to the long-form calculations needed to track FedEx Cup points, is simple and eternal – cash a check or check the “help wanted” ads.
FedEx Cup: The points system is confusing, the concept stretches the definition of playoffs and this year’s Cup featured more doomsday scenarios than a BCS title game, yet despite it all, or maybe because of it, we ended up with a tense final turn at East Lake and a dream photo op for Tour types – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson sharing the same stage ... and smiling.
It’s tough to contrive special, but the Tour did it with Woods taking home his second FedEx Cup trophy in three years and Mickelson giving us a reason to pine for next season with his second Tour Championship triumph in 10 years.
Note to Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: if there is any loot left from FedEx, the math geeks who came up with this year’s point structure should get a little something extra in next week’s paycheck.
Ken Green: He lost his brother, his girlfriend, his dog and his right leg, but Green has not lost his desire to play professional golf again or his ability to inspire.
On Monday a large group of Green’s friends gathered in Danbury, Conn., for a charity tournament to raise money to help pay Green’s escalating medical bills. Among those on hand were fellow Champions Tour players Fred Funk, Andy Bean, Scott Simpson, Chip Beck, Bob Tway and Brad Bryant.
The tournament raised $200,000 for Green, and his energy raised the hopes that he could become the first golfer to play professionally with a prosthetic.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Golf’s Olympic bid: Neither President Barack Obama nor Oprah Winfrey could sway the International Olympic Committee’s decision – which begs the question, who was missing? Gandhi? The Dalai Lama? Brian Urlacher? – and Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games went to Rio de Janeiro.
Although golf’s Olympic bid will not be known for another week, the decision was at least a logistical hit for the game’s Gold Medal aspirations.
If golf gets the IOC nod, the game’s best and brightest will be asked to work the games in between starts at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey, the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota and whatever version of the FedEx Cup playoffs is around. Imagine the SkyMiles.
And if you think golf took a hit, imagine the mood in Chicago. Now all the Windy City hopeful have to look forward to in the fall of 2016 is another September swoon by the Cubs.
Tiger Woods: According to various reports, the world No. 1 turned down an invitation to pose in 'ESPN the Magazine''s upcoming “Bodies” issue, a thinly-veiled rip-off of 'Sports Illustrated''s swimsuit issue.
While we understand Woods’ reluctance to pose in the buff, we can’t help but think if not Woods then who? The “Bodies” issue already will feature LPGA players Sandra Gal, Anna Grzebien and Christina Kim.
No Henrik Stenson? The big Swede must want to save his “beefcake” shots for World Golf Championship audiences.
While ESPN searches for a Woods replacement, we offer a list of players nobody wants to see in the issue: Tim “Lumpy” Herron, Angel “El Pato” Cabrera and John “El Wacko” Daly.
Bay Hill: We learned this week that Arnold Palmer & Co. will dial down the course for next year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, playing the layout as designed as a par 72. Similarly, Jack Nicklaus smoothed the rough edges of Muirfield Village for this year’s Memorial, which begs the question : When did the King and the Bear go soft?
First they agreed to ceremonial spots on the first tee at Augusta National, now this.
Sponsorship madness: The Tour doesn’t have long to bask in the warm glow of success following last week’s Tour Championship. The circuit is facing an uphill sponsorship battle starting in 2010, when 11 title or presenting sponsors come due for renewal by season’s end.
Among the most glaring holes in the Tour docket will be replacement checkbooks for Torrey Pines, formerly the Buick Invitational, and the Heritage, a Tour staple since 1968.
We will miss the likes of Warrick Hills, the long-time home of the now-defunct Buick Open, but Torrey and Harbour Town are special. One can all but guarantee Woods and Mickelson at Torrey, and Hilton Head Island features one of the Tour’s best courses and most-relaxed vibes. If the Tour can’t sell that, where are we?
“I’m optimistic,” said Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot. “I’ve reached out to players and agents. I might need Boo (Weekley) to make a sales call.”
Now there’s a sales call “Cut Line” would like to sit in on.
Slow play: Woods and Padraig Harrington, locked in competition, were put on the clock by Tour officials. No, we are not talking about “Stopwatch-gate” at Firestone. The high-profile duo was timed again on Saturday at East Lake.
The “clocking” followed news that the Tour had stiffened penalties for slow-play violations this year, doubling annual cumulative fines (which start at $20,000) for frequent violators ($40,000 for a second consecutive year, $80,000 for a third consecutive, $160,000 for a fourth consecutive year, etc.).
The new rule suggests a chronic problem that, considering the vast amounts of money available to even the most rank-and-file member, will not be fixed with fines. If the Tour wants to take a bite out of slow play, slap one-stroke penalties on habitual offenders and publish the names of the Tour’s slowest players. Missed cuts and embarrassment can be powerful deterrents.
Cabrera and son 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.