The Return of Westwood

By Rich LernerSeptember 14, 2010, 9:09 pm
Out since early August with a ruptured right calf muscle, Lee Westwood is taking drastic measures to ensure that he will not be a drag on Europe’s bid to win back the Ryder Cup early next month in Wales.

“I haven’t had a drink in four weeks,” he said from his home in England. “I’ve lost 12 pounds since the British Open.”

Living the Spartan lifestyle of a boxer in training for a title fight, Westwood sounded refreshed.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood has been the most consistent performer in majors over the last few years. (Getty Images)
“I haven’t had any pain for three weeks,” he said. “I’ve made great progress.”

Westwood’s been rehabbing the injury while working out in the gym.  With a full practice facility on his own property, he started playing golf a week and a half ago with putting, chipping, pitching and bunker play.

He hit full shots at the beginning of last week, drivers this past Monday and then worked through his entire bag each of the last two days.  

And he’s done some of it with coach Pete Cowen. “He said I’m swinging better than I was before,” said Westwood.

Wednesday, Westwood will play a full 18 for the first time since he limped away, teeing it up in Yorkshire at his home club, Lindrick, host of the 1957 Ryder Cup.

Next Monday and Tuesday, he’ll participate in a two-day charity event in Scotland, then play 36 holes in one day towards the end of the week.

“I just want to replicate the Ryder Cup with two matches in one day,” said Westwood. “I’m pretty strong at the moment. I’d be fine playing in all five matches.”

Westwood’s fine, too, with Colin Montgomerie’s captain’s choices. “I have sympathy for Paul,” he said of Paul Casey. “I’d be gutted as well.”

“But if you had a 7-footer on the last green, you’d have your money on Padraig [Harrington] because he’s done it so often.”

Westwood’s played on four winning Ryder Cup teams, winning 14, losing 10 and halving five of his 29 matches.

“I think it’s a strong European side,” he said of the 2010 team. “It’s strong on paper. But golf’s played on grass. We’ll find out in two weeks.”

It’s a team without Sergio Garcia for the first time since 1997, at least Sergio as a player. Garcia will be there as a vice captain.

“I think it’s a great move,” Westwood said. “Sergio brings a lot of passion and experience. And it’s nice to have an assistant with each match. That’s one of the few mistakes that Nick [Faldo]made at Valhalla, not having enough assistants to relay messages.”

Having emerged from a dark period of his own, Westwood is uniquely qualified to speak on Sergio’s temporary and self-imposed exile from competition.

“If you keep going around in circles it’s a bit destructive,” he explained. “You either grind through or take a break.’

“He’s 30 years old and has a lot of years left. A two- or three-month break is not the end of the world. It will probably do him some good.”

Westwood’s also qualified to expound on the voluminous subject of captain Montgomerie.  

“I spent my whole career playing with Monty,” said Westwood. “When he was winning all the Order of Merit titles I was finishing second and third and fourth. Then I won the money title in 2000 and finished his run.’

“I can have a laugh and a joke with him and I think he opens up to me more than other guys. He has a decent sense of humor and I think he’ll get along well with everyone.’

Asked how Monty will handle the notorious British tabloids fishing around in Monty’s messy private affairs, Westwood dismissed any potential problem.

“Monty’s had years of that,” he said. “He’s a pro at that.”

As for possible pairings, Westwood’s always been flexible.  

“I’ve been listening to people,” he said. “I heard Rory [McIlroy] and Martin [Kaymer] say they’d like to play with me.”

“I’m a big believer in not sending two rookies out together. So partnering with those guys would be two of the more obvious ones to me.”

Westwood didn’t watch the PGA Championship, but did see enough in the highlights to know that he’d be in good company alongside Kaymer.

“Martin holed a great clutch putt on 18 in regulation,” said Westwood. “And he rolled in the birdie on 17 in the playoff like it was a Tuesday morning practice round.”

Westwood offered one more cogent thought, on the subject of the October weather in Wales.

“Humidity won’t be a problem,” he cracked.

Nor it appears will Westwood’s health, that of mind and body.
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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.