Woods' Ryder hopes may depend on FedEx Cup

By Rex HoggardJuly 23, 2014, 2:36 pm

There are still 42 days before Tom Watson finds himself officially on the clock, a theoretical eternity considering the heavily weighted schedule between now and the moment Captain American must announce his three picks for this year’s Ryder Cup.

Yet as Watson deferred the inevitable as the questions mounted on Sunday at the Open Championship, there was no mistaking the reality that Tiger Woods was running out of time in his pursuit of a spot on Old Tom’s team.

Woods said all the right things on Sunday at Hoylake, where he finished 69th following rounds of 69-77-73-75.

“The fact I was able to play a few weeks ahead of time, and I'm only getting stronger and faster, which is great. I just had to get more game time,” said Woods, who returned from the DL last month following back surgery on March 31. “We did the smart thing by not playing too much leading into this event, just want to assess how my back was.”

By all accounts, Woods’ back is fine. It’s the silver lining behind a comeback that started four weeks earlier than expected. His game, and by association his Ryder Cup chances, are still to be determined.

While Woods has taken a measured approach in his return to action, Watson has not deviated from his initial take on the former world No. 1.

“If he’s playing well and in good health, I'll pick him,” he has told anyone who would listen. On Sunday at the Open Championship, where the captain clipped the potential pick by five strokes, he added an addendum to that company line.

“The caveat to that is if he doesn't get into the FedEx Cup (playoffs), what do I do then? That's not here yet,” Watson allowed.

Although the clock says 42 days, in essence Woods has just two weeks to make his case – next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship.

While the top 8 on the U.S. points list may be the ultimate goal, Woods’ immediate concerns are focused on another points list. At 214th on the FedEx Cup points list, Woods’ first order of business is to crack the playoff roster.

The most direct path would be through the winner’s circle. “I'd like to win the next two tournaments I'm in. That should take care of that,” Woods said when asked about his Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup predicament.

Short of that, to convince Watson he is deserving of one of his three picks he will likely have to, at a minimum, play his way into The Barclays, the first playoff event.

It was telling that on Sunday at Hoylake the captain and the potential pick were sending out something of a mixed message. When asked if he would make himself a pick Woods was unapologetically positive.

“I got picked by Corey (Pavin) back in (2010),” Woods said. “I was coming off an injury as well there with my Achilles, and I sat out for most of the summer.

“I felt like I was able to contribute to the team. And that's all you want as a pick, you want someone who can contribute to the team, whether it's in support or it's in play. I did it then and hopefully I can actually earn my way on to this team.”

Of course, in 2010 when Pavin made Woods a pick he was 12th on the U.S. points list and had finished fourth at the U.S. Open and in the top 15 in his final two events before the announcement was made.

Woods – who went 3-1-0 at Celtic Manor in ’10 – didn’t play the U.S. Open this year and in just five events his best finish is a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

All of which might explain why Watson had a slightly different take on Woods’ short-term Ryder Cup prospects based on his week in England.

“Looks like he's playing without pain,” Watson said. “But, again, he's not in the mix. He needed to get in the mix to get some points to get some money and get in the FedEx Cup.”

When Woods made his debut at his Quicken Loans National in late June following back surgery he jokingly told reporters his expectations for the week were simply to, “get in the playoffs somehow.”

At the time, the assembled scribes dismissed Woods’ self-deprecating take. Little did anyone know that his Ryder Cup chances would come down to that other points list.

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.