Let the Fun Begin

By Rex HoggardOctober 9, 2009, 7:33 am

Presidents CupSAN FRANCISCO – Forget fun. Forget chemistry. Forget breezy.

We’re not sure what International captain Greg Norman said to his dozen on the eve of the eighth Presidents Cup, or what he injected in that special beef he had shipped in for the pregame meal, but if the world side has a chance this side of the Tropic of Capricorn it should have been short and sweet – man up.

The axiom goes that the Americans play better at the Presidents Cup than they do at the Ryder Cup in recent years because the odd-year soiree is more slap and tickle than it is slam and tackle.


For the Internationals to have a chance here on the shores of Lake Merced, they had to make hay in the foursome sessions. And for that to happen they had to embrace the pressure that comes when something important is on the line.

For years the U.S. Ryder Cup team couldn’t do it and they struggled. For years the International side has fumbled the foursomes frame and we have a 5-1-1 team afterthought.

“When I look back over the history of the Presidents Cup and where we as a team have got beaten is in the first day, is in the foursomes, or on Saturday morning in the foursomes,” Norman said. “America has been very, very dominating in that department. So when we get behind the 8-ball, it's very hard.”

As a rule, the Internationals dig foursome holes on Thursday and Saturday and spend the rest of the week running up hill. In 1996 the Americans went 4-1 in Thursday foursomes, in 2000 5-0, in 2007 4-0-1 and won all those matches convincingly. By comparison, in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia the Internationals won the Day 1 foursome matches (3-1-1) and their first and only cup.

On Thursday, the Internationals posted three blue-and-gold flags on the board before the final tee time reached the first fairway. By dusk – and thanks in no small part to a pair of misses by Retief Goosen, who failed to concede the putt, and Justin Leonard, who inexplicably failed to hole his 3 footer at the last – the visiting team trailed by a single point, 3 ½ - 2 ½. Goosen later apologized. No word on how Leonard’s mea culpa went over.

The one-point deficit was a victory by any measure for the Internationals.

“That's one of the better starts we've had, believe it or not, for the last three cups or so,” said Els, who teamed with Adam Scott for 2-and-1 victory. “So we are not too despondent about today. The first-day foursomes has always been a bit of an Achilles heel to us.”

Forget scoreboards, the day’s line could be read in each team’s body language. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, who made road kill of Geoff Ogilvy and Ryo Ishikawa, looked nothing like the unbeatable tandem they were on the course following the round, while Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Ishikawa had the look of men who knew a secret the rest of Harding Park couldn’t fathom.

At worst, Norman’s crew didn’t break any china. At best, they built the frame of a puzzle that has been missing pieces since that twilight showdown in South Africa six years ago.

The theories behind the International’s foursome follies vary.

“America’s top players play (foursomes) every year while this is the only time we do it,” said Robert Allenby, who putted nothing like a man who ranks 189th on Tour in putting average. “You have to find the right combination with golf balls and someone you can gel with.”

And that’s why Norman didn’t build a Hall of Fame resume and an economic empire daydreaming about what could have been. Which brings us back to Harding Park and the matter at hand.

The Presidents Cup may be fun and games compared with the high-psi Ryder Cup, but Norman knew if he was going to inject some life into match play’s little brother his team had to get off the Thursday schneid and that required honesty. You can’t win the Super Bowl in the first quarter but you can sure loose it, and the Internationals have lost plenty of Cups one turn into the proceedings.

It may buck the current trend of getting lost in the process not the result, but Norman had to make this clear – for his team to have a chance they had to perform on Thursday and embrace the pressure.

Had the Shark been clever, he would have pointed across the locker room to honorary assistant U.S. captain diva Michael Jordan. No. 23 wrote record books embracing the pressure of the moment, not hiding from it.

A period into this team bout nothing has been decided, but compared with matches past, the Internationals still have a fighting chance and that’s something. Now, let the fun begin.

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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.