One Month In and Already Wondering
*His first round 66 at Spyglass was impressive, but my colleague Clifton Brown of The New York Times says we're not talking Willis Reed limping onto the Garden floor for game seven against Wilt and the Lakers now are we?
(No, we're not.)
*No. 1 in greens in regulation in 2000, No. 2 in putts per green in regulation. That's truly amazing. But no one, not even Tiger, can continue to make every single putt he looks at. It's just not possible. And so Tiger's 0-3 in 2001? Is it more or less exciting with other guys now winning?
*Tiger's powerful. No. 1 most powerful in all of sports, according to The Sporting News. It'll be interesting to see how he will he use that power in the coming years.
*17-year-old Ryan Ring loves golf, loves life and beat leukemia. In the grand, sometimes difficult scheme of life, Ryan stepped up, pulled out a two iron and into a 30-mile-an-hour gale force wind knocked it two feet from the flag. Closed out leukemia on the 14th hole. Through the Make a Wish Foundation, he was able to partner with another courageous golfer, Casey Martin, at Pebble Beach. 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft was also in the group and said of Ring, 'His father told me that Ryan literally was practicing his golf while he was hooked up to the chemo equipment. He's really a great, great kid.' Ryan networked Casey for a possible entre to Stanford. Nice to have big plans and not big worries. Isn't that what youth and life should be all about?
*Team Garcia lit a spark in the Pebble Gallery. Sergio, 17-year-old younger sister Mar (Spanish for 'sea'), and papa Victor had the time of their lives. Mar's got big brother's swing, smile and confidence and plans to perhaps pursue the University of Arizona. After kicking up some dust near the amateur lead at Pebble, Mar came down with a stomach virus before Saturday's round. She toughed it out. Sergio produced one of the tender moments of the week when, just before the first tee introductions, he wrapped his arms around Mar and gave her a warm hug. Sergio's soft hands should one day win a major. Augusta, you would think, considering his Spanish predecessors Seve and Jose Maria demonstrated such feel for the National.
*Winning in Hawaii, Furyk and Faxon stroked home the point that there's still room on occasion for the really good putter.
*Calcavecchia reminds us that excellence in golf is merely on loan. You don't own it. You don't control it. One week you shoot a three for 72 holes. The cup looks like a bunker. You're a month away from the one year anniversary of your bizarre-but-effective relationship with the strange grip you employ known as 'the claw.' But within days of your record at Phoenix and all that good feeling, you suddenly break your putter in the second round at the AT&T, abandon the claw, putt with your metal wood and shoot 7,896. The word is fleeting, friggin' fleeting. There's just no explaining it. There's no magic. It's just the way the damn game is. Was it the late Jim Murray who said the game's a pirate?
*On the other hand, Calc did win 720 grand for shooting a three for 72 holes in Phoenix. Mark Johnson won a playoff in the Monday qualifier at Pebble and was just happy to be anywhere playing for cash. Johnson has delivered Budweiser Beer for 20 years, arising at 2 a.m. for his 4 a.m. shift. He's 46, made it through two stages of The PGA Tour's Qualifying Tournament and has played some Canadian Tour events. He hopes to make it on Tour or later the Senior Tour. Rather than take any credit for himself when he floated on the leaderboard through a couple of rounds at Pebble, Mark offered the following, 'The busy season in the beer business is the summertime, which also happens to be the busy season for golfers. I owe some thanks to all the guys at the distributorship that I work at for covering for me while I'm playing in tournaments. So, this Bud's for you guys.' And this Bud's for you, Mark.
Mark Johnson is one of my favorite professional golfers.
Ryan Ring is one of my favorite amateur golfers.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
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
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.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
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
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.