Woods revives past memories with 69 at Hoylake

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2014, 2:52 pm

HOYLAKE, England – The comparisons were always going to be misguided, if not wildly unfair.

This was always going to be a different course than the one that hosted the great Dust Open of 2006. It was, observers concluded, a different swing, a different time, a different Tiger than the one who surgically picked the place apart on his way to his third claret jug eight years ago.

Despite that reasoning, those comparisons were sure to come. It is always the burden that when you author a masterpiece fans eagerly await a sequel that is every bit as captivating no matter how outrageous those expectations may be.

When Tiger Woods bogeyed the first hole early on Thursday at Royal Liverpool the social universe reminded anyone with a wireless connection that he also bogeyed his first hole in ’06, when arguably the best ball-striking week of his career delivered a two-stroke victory.

When he bogeyed the second, however, a chorus of concern could be heard across the Dee Estuary; but slowly, methodically, earnestly, Woods plodded his way back to relevance:

A birdie at the par-5 fifth hole from 8 feet to turn at 1 over was followed by a barrage of five birdies in six holes starting at No. 11.

Maybe this could be like ’06.

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Maybe all that talk of getting his “speed” and “explosiveness” back was starting to resonate. Maybe his short week at the Quicken Loans National – where he returned to action following back surgery on March 31 – was little more than a litmus test and not a long-term indication of things to come.

“I’m not going to be the only guy in a 72-hole event to make two bogeys. I just got mine out of the way early,” Woods figured following a 3-under 69 that left him three behind leader Rory McIlroy.

The 143rd Open Championship was always going to be compared to that clinic he put on in ’06 regardless of the reality that he entered the week with just 36 holes under his belt since returning from the DL and is some 11 months removed from his last major start.

But as a glorious morning progressed, his game, and his championship outlook, improved, just like he said it would.

“That's why I’ve been telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional,” Woods said. “The fact that I was able to recover every day, and the fact that I was stronger, more explosive the more days I played. I’m only going to get better from that point.”

When Woods closed his round in increasingly windy conditions, the similarities to his performance in ’06 were eerie.

For the day, Woods hit just one driver, at the par-5 16th hole, the same number he hit for the entire week eight years ago. He found 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, compared to 11 of 14 and 12 of 18 in ’06. He needed 28 putts, one more than he took on Day 1 the last time he played Hoylake.

That he did all this after playing his first two in 2 over par also echoed of ’06, when he rounded his final 71 holes in 19 under par.

“It felt good to be back out there competing again. It wasn't exactly the greatest of starts,” Woods said.

In fact, the only thing that was missing on Day 1 was a yellow golf course cooked by unseasonably hot conditions to bouncy perfection. But it’s still early.

Woods’ rally began at the 11th hole, where he missed the green right from the middle of the fairway with a wedge in his hand and rolled in a 30-footer from the fringe that prompted a fist pump.

He followed with a 10-footer at the 12th hole, an 8-footer at the 13th hole and a punched 7-iron at No. 15 to 15 feet before nearly making eagle at the 16th hole.

He endured the predictable rub of the green that is as much a part of links golf as fescue and aiming poles when his second at the closing hole found the back of a greenside bunker and he could do no better than par.

He even sounded like he did in ’06.

“I played what the golf course allowed me to play,” he said on Thursday.

Eight years ago after his second round he had a similar take, “It all depends what I feel the golf course gives me,” he said.

But perhaps the most encouraging comparison to ’06 was what Woods did after his round. The world No. 7 signed his card, spoke his piece with the press and bolted for the practice tee for an extended session, an option that wasn’t available before he underwent microdiscectomy.

“I need to get everything a little bit better. That's the case all of the time,” he reasoned.

Much has transpired in the years since the game’s oldest championship was played on the Wirral peninsula, but for Woods Thursday at Hoylake felt like old times.

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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.