Olympic Glory

By Rex HoggardAugust 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
CHASKA, Minn. ' At 8 a.m. (CT) on Thursday, some 35 minutes before Tiger Woods begins his push for Grand Slam No. 15, the 15-member executive board of the International Olympic Committee will meet to decide the games fate in Berlin.
The board will decide if golf is one of two sports that will earn the inside track for inclusion into the 2016 Olympic Games. If all this sounds like background noise to U.S. golf fans, it is.
The foundation for the growth of the game in the United States is strong, led by organizations like The First Tee and Play Golf America. Outside the Lower 48, however, golf has always struggled to compete with the likes of soccer and in countries where the game is economically out of reach for most of the population.
I have to compete against a round ball and a field (soccer), Mark Lawrie, the executive director of the Argentine Golf Association said last year. We do what we can.
With the golf world fixated on Glorys Last Shot and Woods push for his third straight victory underway, Berlin may as well be Mars. But make no mistake, what happens an ocean away from Hazeltine National will have a much more profound impact on the game than anything that could transpire amid the Minnesota corn fields, at least globally.
This is about more than simply bragging rights over Rugby sevens or squash ' squash.... as if. Getting a spot in the 16 Games will give the game a drastically higher profile in countries where a Grand Slam is a breakfast option at Dennys, not a reason to look forward to April.
Organizers ' who are competing against the likes of Rugby sevens, karate, squash, roller-sports and baseball ' point to the explosion of basketball in the wake of the 2008 Games in China. For a sport like golf, holding a spot amid the Olympic rings is akin to a B-12 shot of international proportions, where inclusion will give the game access to resources from a nations Olympic fund and create programs to develop world-class players.
I'd love to be an Olympian. Doesn't that sound good? Imagine us being Olympic athletes, Padraig Harrington said. It seems like it was always destined to be an Olympic sport.
I'm sure there's a lot of athletes out there that would never put golf as a sport, but trying to explain that to somebody that doesn't play golf, they will never understand what goes into golf. Most golfers realize what goes into it and will see it as being a natural sport for the Olympics.
The next ring golfs Olympic advocates will have to jump through will occur on Oct. 9 when the full IOC votes on the games inclusion in Denmark, but a nod on Thursday from the executive board gives the game a 3-up lead with four to play to earn a spot in the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
Im nervous, excited, hopeful, said Ty Votaw, the executive director of the IGFs Olympic Golf Committee. If we get the recommendation it will be great, but we still have a lot of work to do. If not, we have some decisions to make.
If golf is passed over it could continue to push the full IOC membership for a spot, but that would be a long ball outside the reach of even Woods.
The devil is in the details, always is. Finding space for a 72-hole event at the major championship season table will be difficult and there is still some nip/tuck to be done to the selection process to assure the event pulls the games best and brightest.
The venue for the 16 Games could also be an issue. Chicago, among the cities bidding for the Games, would be ideal considering most of the worlds top players will be in the United States at that time and the Windy City enjoys an embarrassment of golf riches organizers could pick a venue from.
There is also the issue of pulling the games top drawing card ' Woods. On Tuesday, the world No. 1 gave organizers a high-profile boost.
Golf is a truly global sport and I think it should have been in the Olympics awhile ago, Wood said. If Im not retired by then, yeah (he would play in the Olympics).
But what if the games biggest stick has already collected his 20 or so major titles, putting the Grand Slam tally out of reach for eternity, and has decided to pursue other interests by the time the 16 Games arrive? An Olympics without Woods would be like Christmas without Santa Claus.
Yet all of the concerns dont dim the potential of an Olympic bid, not to a grassroots guy like Lawrie who is currently getting lapped by a potent one-two combo ' soccer and nearly non-existent access.
The Olympic announcement will come and go on Thursday before Woods reaches the third tee. But make no mistake, this is one major title that can be won or lost on Thursday.
Tune into Golf Channel Thursday at 9 a.m. ET for a news conference regarding the status of golf in the Olympics.
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    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.

    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.