Last Man Standing

By Rex HoggardJune 21, 2010, 7:52 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Hello par, it’s Graeme McDowell.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of the affable Northern Irishman the 110th U.S. Open ended on Sunday. Who knew that was even an option at the national championship, which has rolled into Monday the last two Junes.

Not that McDowell made it easy. Not that Pebble Beach was easy, but with a series of clutch putts and an unflappable calm to match the sway of Stillwater Cove “G Mac,” as he is known to friends far and wide, outlasted the likes of Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and, yes, even Gregory Havret.

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell is the first European player in 40 years to win the U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
Seems about right a Frenchman would be in the mix at a Grand Slam that took on the look of Carnoustie after three glories days on the NorCal coast. Perfect then that the Ugly Open was won by a man with a beautiful disposition.

“He’s a QHB, a quality human being,” said Mike Dunphy, who now works for Cleveland Golf but was the golf coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham just before McDowell made his jump across the pond.

Dunphy has spent enough time with McDowell to know his closing 74 and even-par 284 total at the fifth Pebble Beach Open was a long-time in the making. Clutch putting was always his strong suit, but grinding would always deliver the big one.

“Graeme was always going to hang in there and stay, he’s that kind of guy,” Dunphy said.

On Sunday with clouds hanging low over storied Pebble Beach, McDowell took “hanging in there” to a new level.

He began the final 18 of the year’s second major three shots back and never blinked. Dustin Johnson, the three-day pacesetter, played his first 54 holes in 6 under and his next four in 6 over, paving the way for McDowell.

And McDowell made pars. He pared his first four holes, made birdie at the fifth hole to move one shot clear of Els and weathered a bogey-bogey stretch along the cliffs of doom (Nos. 9 and 10) to claim his first major championship and Europe’s first U.S. Open in four decades.

“The U.S. Open has always been a tournament, you know, if people asked me which major did I feel like my game is most suited to, I normally said the U.S. Open because I've always been pretty good off the tee, accuracy wise,” said McDowell, who two-putted for a nervous par at the picturesque last from 20 feet to edge Havret by a stroke. “But U.S. Open, I don't think I've ever missed the cut in the U.S. Open. The golf course has always kind of fitted my eye in some shape or form.”

It’s a testament to how far McDowell has come since arriving on campus at UAB that his longtime caddie Ken Comboy said Saturday, when his man shot a respectable 71, was more difficult than Sunday.

“It’s controlling your emotions more than anything. This tournament is like 18 different questions,” Comboy said. “I think he believed strongly he could do it today.”

It wasn’t always that way. Never is. The path to every major championship is paved with largely undisclosed victories large and small.

For McDowell the epiphanies began in 2007 at the U.S. Open when he opened strongly but struggled to weekend rounds of 75-77.

“I told him at Oakmont a few years ago you’re never more than two or three pars from getting back into it,” Comboy said.

Sage advice, particularly at Pebble Beach, where after three days of what Phil Mickelson called “fun” officials pulled the string on the party.

There were just five sub-par rounds on Sunday when traffic, like that on 17 Mile Drive, began moving in just one direction – down the leaderboard.

McDowell, however, had long ago learned the importance of par. When he won at Loch Lomond in 2008, and again in 2009 when he played solidly for the European Ryder Cup team. The final piece of his pre-Pebble Beach record came two weeks ago in Wales when he won his fifth European Tour title.

“This time in Wales I felt like I was ready to use that victory for big things. Little did I know what was around the corner. I couldn't imagine this week, but I felt ready for it, I really did. I felt calm and I felt confident this week,” said McDowell, who seemed perfectly groomed for the windblown links at Pebble Beach having grown up at Royal Portrush, the classic Northern Irish gem.

Some will consider McDowell the square peg in the round Pebble Beach hole. The storied layout has produced champions with names like Kite, Watson, Nicklaus, Woods and now, McDowell. But then what “G Mac” lacks in name recognition and Q rating he more than makes up for in spirit.

“He means the world to me,” Comboy said. “He’s such an open, honest guy.”

And now, he’s an Open champion, thanks to par and one of the meanest days the Monterey Peninsula has seen in decades.


Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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.