Pebble Beach views can overshadow course quality

By Rex HoggardFebruary 6, 2014, 12:30 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Some PGA Tour types will tell you Pebble Beach Golf Links isn’t even the best layout in the National Pro-Am’s three-course rotation, forget about naming the Monterey gem the circuit’s best 18 holes.

But in an impromptu debate that was born from the morning fog on Wednesday at Pebble Beach the esoteric debate took on a more definitive tone.

“By far, the best,” said Joe Ogilvie, one of the circuit’s most astute armchair golf course architects.

No, Ogilvie wasn’t declaring Pebble Beach the best on Tour; that conversation is often too emotionally charged depending on personal preferences and past performances, although the course ranked fourth on Tour among players in a poll taken last year by Golf Digest.

Ogilvie was simply naming the layout that winds its way around Stillwater Cove the best on the Monterey Peninsula, and that’s a lineup that includes venerable Cypress Point.

Pebble Beach’s detractors claim the course is given too much credit because of the three simple rules of good real estate – location, location, location. Dig up a west Texas muni and piece it along the picturesque coastline and it would earn instant classic status, the argument goes.

But that assessment misses a few simple realities.

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

The U.S. Golf Association has played five U.S. Opens on the northern California coast and is set to add a sixth to that legacy in 2019. The PGA Championship was played at Pebble Beach in 1977 and the old Crosby Clambake has been contested on the windblown layout since 1947.

Mediocre doesn’t have that kind of staying power and it takes more than postcard-perfect vistas of the Pacific Ocean to secure that kind of major championship calling card.

In many ways Pebble Beach is the perfect combination of form and function.

“Beyond the scenery, the architecture, having to hit different shots, it is arguably one of the best (on Tour). Whether it’s the best I don’t know,” allowed Joe Durant, firmly, yet fairly, planted on the fence.

Although Pebble Beach is not consistently ranked among the circuit’s hardest - it ranked 29th out of 43 courses last year on Tour - players warn that when the wind comes up, as it is predicted to do on Thursday, and the “Crosby weather” arrives it is as challenging as anything one will find on the east coast of Scotland.

In a converse way, Pebble Beach may lack some critical acclaim because of the picturesque visuals that draw observers out to sea and away from the challenging shot values and subtle slopes.

“Pebble is the most underrated second-shot golf course on Tour. You’ve got to have precision into the greens,” Durant said. “If you put it on the wrong side of the hole you can be out there all day. The greens are fast, they have a lot of undulation and television doesn’t do it justice.”

Beyond the layout’s championship resume, the list of greats who have played their way to victory at Pebble Beach is as telling a litmus test as there is in golf. Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Phil Mickelson all won at Pebble Beach and the ultimate calling card for any course is its ability to identify the best players.

Throughout its storied history Pebble Beach has also delivered some the game’s most memorable moments, from Tom Watson’s historic shootout with Nicklaus at the 1982 U.S. Open to Woods’ historic 15-stroke romp at the 2000 national championship.

That Pebble Beach delivers that kind of substance as well as a considerable amount of style is why the course is among the Tour’s best.

“This is probably my favorite place in the world, let alone favorite places to play golf,” said defending champion Brandt Snedeker.

Whether it’s the circuit’s best is a debate that will have to be decided on another practice tee because as the fog cleared players quickly headed out for practice rounds. They would rather be on the course than talking about it.

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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 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.