Ex-Bulldog Harman among McGladrey early leaders

By Rex HoggardOctober 23, 2014, 7:17 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – “Free Gurley.”

That was Brian Harman’s message on Thursday at the McGladrey Classic, where the conversation inevitably turns to the University of Georgia and its embattled star running back, Todd Gurley.

“We need him against Florida next week,” Harmansaid  in a nod to the showdown between the two SEC giants in a week in Jacksonville, Fla.

Oh ... and Harman said he was pleased with his opening 65 at Sea Island Resort that staked him to a share of the early Round 1 lead, but then a Georgia product atop the McGladrey Classic leaderboard is as much a part of this coastal enclave as shrimp and cheese grits.

At the rate Harman is going he will have plenty of company over the next few days to talk about the plight of his beloved Bulldogs and Gurley, who was suspended indefinitely for allegations he accepted payments in exchange for autographing merchandise for memorabilia dealers.

Harman was joined on the leaderboard by fellow University of Georgia products Erik Compton (T-1 at 5 under) and Brendon Todd (T-8 at 3 under) on Thursday, but that’s hardly a headline considering the impressive run former Bulldogs have had on the PGA Tour the last few years.

Bubba Watson has won two green jackets in three years; Chris Kirk won last year’s McGladrey Classic on his way to a runner-up finish in the season-long FedEx Cup race; Harris English has won twice in the last two years and Harman scored his first Tour victory this summer at the John Deere Classic.

The thread that connects all of those champions weaved its way through Athens, Ga., all the way to Sea Island where some former Bulldogs have taken the home-field advantage to the extreme.


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English moved to the quiet village when he turned pro, as did Harman, who has been traveling to Sea Island since he was 11 to work with legendary swing coach Jack Lumpkin.

It only makes sense that the Bulldogs have established such an impressive legacy at Sea Island considering no other group has as much experience on the Seaside Course.

The SEC Championship has been played at Sea Island since 2001 and Georgia has won that title twice since then. Consider it positive association with continued success, like at the 2004 SEC Championship when Todd was dueling Florida’s Matt Every down the stretch for the individual title.

“I just remember with three holes left I think I probably had a one-shot lead, and [Florida coach Buddy Alexander] was out there walking with Matt, and he could tell Matt was so frustrated because I was making putts and he wasn't,” Todd recalled. “Then I missed the green left on 17 to that front-left pin, and I flopped it up there to like 6 feet and made it, and he just rolled his eyes and was like, I surrender.”

The rest of the Tour may be starting to get that same feeling when it comes to the mounting success of the Georgia alums, a group that has expanded to include Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford.

“When the ball gets rolling at a certain college and you're kind of seeing it at Alabama now, that good players want to go play with other good players, and it all happened to be timed up right at Georgia,” Compton said.

The credit for much of Georgia’s success inevitably comes back to affable head coach Chris Haack, who took over the golf program in 1996.

Widely considered a benevolent dictator by his former players, Haack has led the Bulldogs to two NCAA titles (in 1999 and 2005) and proven himself one of the best recruiters in college golf.

So adept, in fact, that his embarrassment of riches has led to some awkward moments over the years, like when one future Masters champion (Watson) regularly failed to qualify for tournaments.

“I was the No. 1-ranked junior in the nation and he red-shirted me my freshman year,” Compton recalled. “If you didn’t shoot 30 under in qualifying you weren’t going to play any tournaments.”

Haack’s coaching style is so effective his former players didn’t blink when asked if he would be the kind of leader the PGA of America could turn to as a possible Ryder Cup captain.

“That’s funny because I was just reading a story about maybe the U.S. should do something like they do in Olympic basketball and name a captain who is used to coaching teams,” Todd said. “That would be awesome.”

Compton agreed. “Absolutely. He’s a fun guy and he knows how to let people do what they do best. He’s a very good motivator.”

At this rate Haack could assemble a Ryder Cup team almost entirely of former Georgia players that could make a game of it with the Europeans. And if the matches are played at Sea Island some may even consider them favorites – with or without Todd Gurley.

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.

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.