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Spieth not overthinking playoff loss to DJ

By Rex HoggardAugust 31, 2017, 7:24 pm

NORTON, Mass. – In the hours following Sunday’s showdown between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at The Northern Trust, the runner-up sent the champion a text message.

Jordan: Man, congrats, that was a good battle, let's do it again next week.

Dustin: Absolutely. I had a good time. That was my turn. ;-)

To be completely accurate, Johnson didn’t add an emoji to the end of his text, but it would have been awesome if he did. Not that DJ comes across as a “smiley face” guy and he may have considered any light-hearted attempt at humor poor form.

Simply put, it may be too soon.

After all, Spieth had just lost a five-stroke lead with 13 holes to play on Sunday at Glen Oaks. Those types of scars normally need some time to callus over, but then Spieth didn’t exactly sound like a man who needed to be talked off a ledge on Thursday at the Dell Technologies Championship.

“People keep using the word disappointment. It wasn't a disappointment. It was a great week,” he said.

While “great,” might be a bit of a stretch, Spieth certainly appeared to have left his Long Island loss in the rearview mirror as he made his way up Interstate 95 for the season’s second playoff stop.

Part of that is simply the competitive reality of playing professional golf. Even players like Spieth end up on the wrong side of the trophy presentation more times than not, so a bit of Teflon is often the best club in the bag.


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We’ve seen this resilience before from Spieth, like in 2016 at the Masters when he lost a lead by depositing two pellets into Rae's Creek en route to a quadruple-bogey 7 on the 12th hole. He bounced back and won at Colonial a few weeks later.

Nothing to see here.

We saw it at the Travelers Championship earlier this summer when he lost a similar Sunday lead only to finish off Daniel Berger with a dramatic hole-out on the first extra hole; and at last month’s Open Championship when he began Sunday with a three-shot lead only to fall behind before a scrambling bogey from the practice range on the 13th hole ignited a late charge that led to his third major victory.

It’s become Spieth’s modus operandi for better or worse. Although he has shown he can dominate a field like any of the game’s best, in his last three Sundays in contention he’s appeared inclined to costly late miscues. At TPC River Highlands and Royal Birkdale, he overcame, which itself carries a weighty significance.

“You didn't see Tiger [Woods] hitting it off the practice ground at an Open Championship and making errors, and then amazing come backs,” said Paul Casey last Saturday at Glen Oaks. “Jordan's got something very special. What he did at the Open Championship was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, after the start. He has something.”

But last week that special something failed to materialize. Although he shot a 1-under 69 to finish 72 holes tied with Johnson, a double bogey-5 at the sixth hole opened the door for the would-be champion.

“What I learned from it? I won the tournament, besides the shot I hit in the water on 6,” reasoned Spieth, now four days removed from his Sunday loss. “The shot I hit in the water on 6, my ball speed was the fastest ball speed clocked in the last 10 groups on that hole. Yet, it went the shortest, which just tells me it was a wind gust. So I didn't do anything wrong.”

Perhaps. Golf is, after all, a game where luck can play a significant role; but he also bogeyed the ninth and failed to birdie any of his last five holes, including the overtime frame.

There’s always a key distinction in these types of situations, and Spieth was clear at Glen Oaks that he felt like Johnson won the event, as opposed to the 24-year-old losing it.

Johnson did close with a bogey-free 66, the second-lowest score of the day, and destroyed the playoff hole (No. 18) with a drive that sailed 341 yards for a flip wedge/birdie walk-off.

“I went up against another guy I consider the best in the world, and we had a good battle. And it went his way,” Spieth said. “I think there's a couple times he's battled against me he wished it went his way and this is one I wish went my way.”

Hindsight can be a patiently unfair benchmark in these situations. Maybe Spieth should have attempted to cut the corner on the first extra hole, like Johnson, but if he doesn’t pull off that shot the second-guessing would be deafening.

Always one of the Tour’s most retrospective types, Spieth seems content to not dig too deeply into what may or may not have been done differently.

“You can learn from wins and losses, and it being a loss, there really isn't much I can take out of that,” he said. “I was correcting mistakes that I had made in other losses. I was correcting tendencies and did a great job of it.”

Like everything else in Spieth’s career, the important thing now is what he does the next time he’s in the hunt.

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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.