Royal retrospect

By Rich LernerJuly 18, 2011, 10:42 pm

Skinny guys aren’t everymen. Only the burly guys are. Iced tea drinkers aren’t everymen. Only the beer drinkers are. You probably know this but it’s never as simple as we in the press present it. Darren Clarke is complex – he does have a darker side beneath that killer smile. Come to think of it, maybe that does make him an everyman.

– Rickie Fowler outplayed and out-spirited Rory McIlroy and for the first time I thought maybe the gap between the two is not Grand Canyon-wide.

– Phil Mickelson was on his way to one of the greatest rounds in golf history. Seriously. He was 6 under through 10 in rough weather Sunday at a major. He’d wiped out a five-shot lead. And then, with one jack-hammered 2-footer at 11 it wasn’t one of the greatest rounds ever. But it was fun while it lasted, just like the ’09 Masters when he went nuts on the first nine before rinsing it at Rae’s Creek.

– If Sergio Garcia gripes about a lack of passion for the foul weather game, he gets ripped for being a whiner. Rory got a pass because eight-shot wins at a U.S. Open and a generally sunny personality buy you a pass.

– The recurring image from this Open for me is Clarke gracefully powering that longshoreman’s frame through the golf ball and through the bracing winds. Again and again and again.

– Tom Watson has become Shivas Irons, an almost mystical figure. And that’s what makes links golf so unbelievably cool. When it’s firm, 61-year-old guys aren’t at a huge disadvantage in terms of length. When it howls and spits, it becomes a test of reading wind, a test of maintaining rhythm and a test of attitude. Watson is peerless in those categories.

– A decade ago, Clarke was one of the few not just comfortable in Tiger’s imperious presence of 2000, but confident enough to kick Tiger around. And for that Tiger respected Darren. It’s no surprise that Tiger texted Darren his best wishes Saturday night.

– I want it to blow Sunday at a British Open the way I want it to snow on a Sunday at Lambeau Field in December.

– Rory may be the king in waiting. Clarke looks more like the Godfather.

– Who knew Miguel Angel Jimenez was Richard Pryor with a ponytail and a pitching wedge? In the parlance of the comedy world, his shtick killed all week.

– Look for Clarke to captain Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup in the U.S. Fans here will have a hard time rooting against a team lead by Clarke, and that helps when you’re trying to win on foreign soil. Don’t be surprised to see either Thomas Bjorn or Paul McGinley get the nod in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

– Speaking of fun loving, beloved Ryder Cup captains, Clarke is now Sam Torrance with a major.

– Northern Ireland’s turning out major champions like the Dominican Republic turns out shortstops.

– One thing you want heading into a final round at a major is absolute confidence in your short putting early. Clarke grabbed it at the very first hole with that downhill, right-breaking putt that he absolutely throated for par. That set the tone and he was rock solid the rest of the way.

– There was so much Sunday that was vintage Phil, from the sublime start to the inexplicable yet semi-predictable miss at 11, to his discussion of Pelzian (Dave Pelz), mathematical theory on the fifth tee.

– Clarke was very good, but he was also very lucky at nine when his second shot skipped over those double-bogey death traps disguised as pot bunkers. You knew then it was his day.

– Colleague Brandel Chamblee unfurled this description of Dustin Johnson’s second shot at 14, “There’s Kent to the left and can’t to the right, as in can’t hit it there.” 

– How about Clarke as a lead television analyst someday?

– I find Tom Watson’s commentary helpful. One of these years ESPN will get four days out of him, but it might not be until he’s 70. He’s 61 and swings like he’s 21.

– Clarke’s win is a case of a guy getting his just due, a good talent with a good nature.

– Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open after having left agent Chubby Chandler so there were whispers that maybe Chubby somehow held guys back, the inference being that if you wanted to have a good time then go hang with loveable Chubby but if you wanted to win majors think again. Then along came Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Rory and now Darren, Chubby’s first client going back 20 years. Just like that, it’s Chubby’s world and plenty of people will want in. And a good world it is.

– David Feherty announced he’s coming out of retirement for the PGA Championship in hopes of becoming the third straight major winner from Northern Ireland.

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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 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.