Hooks & Cuts from the Ryder Cup

By Rich LernerOctober 4, 2012, 7:45 pm

Wherever I've gone and whomever I've spoken to, the Ryder Cup is still the rage, hence this latest edition of Hooks & Cuts.

• Ryder Cup or Masters?  The Masters is by far the better pure golf experience.  The Ryder Cup is the better sports spectacle, a frenzied football rivalry played atop a tension wire fully amped from start to finish. 

• This was among the most soul-crushing losses I’ve ever seen in a team sport. The U.S. led by three touchdowns early in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, by 6 runs going into the seventh inning of Game 7 of the World Series and by 15 points with seven minutes left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.  And it slipped away.  Brutal. 

• I don’t know yet who’s writing it, but rest assured “Miracle at Medinah” will be on sale in the run-up to the 2014 Ryder Cup. 

• They didn’t win, but the Americans played hard and they entertained. 

• Even for all their centuries-old differences and in the midst of the current financial crisis, the countries of Europe, through their itinerant golfers, continue to prove it is possible to create a more perfect union.  The passionate Spaniards are different than the disciplined Germans; the hearty Irish are different than the wry English.  Amazing how a few clutch birdie putts can bridge so many gaps, isn’t it?  They always seem to come together to fight for one all-consuming cause, to beat the mighty Americans, beat ’em again and again and again.

• Did Davis Love’s best quality, his niceness, ultimately cost him?  Phil may have been well intentioned when he told Davis that he and Keegan should sit the afternoon, but who’s the captain?  Davis is, and even if it wasn’t in the original game plan, there’s a time to deviate. That was it.  At a Ryder Cup, emotion and momentum can never be sacrificed when you own it, and Phil and Keegan owned it all.  They were six innings into a perfect game, and Davis went to the bullpen.  As a lifelong Phillies fan, I’m still haunted by Mitch Williams and Joe Carter.

• Phil’s display of sportsmanship, clapping after Justin Rose had made his improbable birdie putt Sunday at 17, was truly a good moment. I suspect Phil spoke for many American fans who could only laugh and applaud the audacity of the Europeans.

• Sneaky critical sequence came Saturday afternoon at 17.  After Tiger hit his iron close the camera cut away to Luke Donald. He appeared not to notice, lost in his own world, and then stuffed his tee shot and made birdie.  Donald and the Euros were out of their funk and into a zone they wouldn’t leave until late Sunday. 

• Speaking of zones, Ian Poulter traveled to Planet Clutch, a distant outpost few have ever visited.  He was so far and away the MVP of the Ryder Cup.  Sunday doesn’t happen if Poults doesn’t unfurl one of the single greatest stretches in cup history on Saturday.  He single-handedly rescued Europe and secured a future captaincy in the process.

• The Americans sent out three fine young major champions and the FedEx Cup champion early on Sunday.  But they’re also what Sir Nick Faldo describes as “twitchy” players.  Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker are naturally sort of caffeinated players, and without the safety net of a partner and under the suffocating pressure they weren’t steady enough to deliver their best stuff.

• Can we all agree that until further notice we’ll not doubt Rory?  Every time he’s been questioned he’s answered with emphasis.  After the 80 at Augusta, he won his very next major by eight.  After he slumped this summer and people, including me, wondered if he’d lost focus, he decimated the field at the PGA Championship and then won back-to-back playoff events.  Saturday night at the Ryder Cup a few pundits suggested that Rory was fatigued and wouldn’t be able to handle the red-hot Bradley.  Sunday was one final reminder in a season filled with them that Rory McIlroy is without any question the best player in the world.

• Tiger’s simply been a virtuoso soloist.  How else to explain his Ryder Cup record?

• Bradley and Bubba flamed the fans, but stoic Jason Dufner also turned in a stout performance over three days.

Jose Maria Olazabal instructing Francesco Molinari to concede his match to Tiger would have been a magnanimous gesture, but you play to win and I don’t have a fundamental problem with the decision to play it out.  Of course, it would sound different if we were saying, “The Europeans fought back to tie the Americans and retain the Ryder Cup,” as opposed to “the Americans blew a four-point lead and allowed the Europeans to win the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in the last nine tries.”      

• I think the PGA of America will go outside the box for its next captain.  In other words, it may not be David Toms, who like Davis Love appears to be a nice man and well respected.  Paul McGinley, bright and highly regarded, will likely get the nod for the Europeans.  Darren Clarke wants to captain in America and figures to get the call in 2016 in Minnesota.  By then, Phil Mickelson may well be ready, if he’s not intent on playing at 46.

• Feel for Jim Furyk.  Think about how close he was to being a U.S. Open champion, a World Golf champion and a Ryder Cup hero.  Think about how gutted he must be.

• The great European captain Sam Torrance always called his men “boys.” He’d say, “Our boys gave it everything they had.” And therein lies the secret.  Under the crushing pressure, serious men must let go and play like boys.

• I’ve heard from so many friends and fans, from diehard golfers and those who barely play, that it was one of the most compelling sporting events they’ve ever seen.  It was.

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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.