McIlroy too good for Mickelson, Fowler, Stenson

By Ryan LavnerAugust 11, 2014, 3:28 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One by one they trudged across the dimly lit back patio at Valhalla, their faces flush from the humidity, the exhaustion and, yes, the frustration.

The challenge in chasing down Rory McIlroy is that it requires near-flawless golf, and not even some of the biggest names in the game could keep pace Sunday at the 96th PGA Championship.

Phil Mickelson, a five-time major winner, cracked.

So did Rickie Fowler, who finished in the top 5 in all four majors this season.

Ditto for Henrik Stenson, the No. 3-ranked player in the world.

Rory? Oh, he cracked all right – a 281-yard 3-wood into the 10th, leading to a game-changing eagle. On 16, one of the last trouble holes, he uncorked a 331-yard drive (the longest of the day by 17 yards) to turn out the lights.   

For years, the careers of even the most extravagantly talented were stunted by Tiger Woods’ dominance. Now, there is a new master in McIlroy, a player who has proven adept at both blowing out and outlasting the field.

Forget the muted annoyance of the four-ball finish. For these nearly-men, they bemoaned another well-played major that still wasn’t enough.

Start with Mickelson, who only eight days earlier was so despondent about his game that he said a good round would have to come “out of nowhere.” What a remarkable turn of events, then, because in the past week he shot a Sunday 62 at Firestone; posted consecutive 67s to put himself in the penultimate group at the PGA; and then held a share of the lead at Valhalla with three holes to play.

As thrilling as it was to see Lefty charge into the lead, it was equally deflating the way he kicked it away. Twenty yards short of the 16th green, he hit his pitch shot too hard and then left the 10-foot par putt short.  

“Costly,” he said.

To win, Mickelson figured he needed a back-nine 32 – in total, a final-round 63 – and indeed, that score would have won by two. He just wasn’t sharp enough to capture major No. 6.

In fact, Mickelson said repeatedly that he needed to “regroup” after this year – to focus on his driving and short irons, areas that once were strengths but now have held him back. Like what happened on No. 4, when he had 74 yards to the flag for his approach. In the past, he would have thought about holing that shot. On Sunday, the best he could do was 16 feet.

“Pathetic,” he said. “Things like that have been happening this year, and I can’t let that happen anymore.”

With only a four- or five-year window remaining, he realizes he can’t be average in those areas and remain competitive, especially in this new world order.

“These next three or four months will be critical for me to make sure that I address the issues and be ready to go for 2015,” he said.

Meanwhile, the future has never looked brighter for Fowler, whose game finally matches the garish outfits.

Four majors produced four chances. The 25-year-old admittedly wasn’t ready to win when he entered the final round of the Masters only two shots back, and a Sunday 73 left him well behind. He was in the final group at both summer Opens, but to win he needed both an all-world performance and a historic collapse.

This major?

“I really felt like I could win this one,” Fowler said, which is why there was more pain than pride when he came off the course, his 14-under 270 two shots shy.

Now considered a big-game hunter, his back-nine performance Sunday will provide plenty of motivation this offseason.

First, there was the uncommitted swing on 14 that led to a bogey. Then the approach into 17 that he didn’t hit cleanly, despite a perfect club (9-iron) and number (161 yards). And finally the three-putt from long range on 18 in near darkness.

Yes, Fowler became only the third player in the modern era to post a top 5 in all four majors in a season, but Tiger and Jack are in a different league – at least they won one during those magical seasons.

“This is probably the one that hurts the most for me,” Fowler said. “This one I felt like I could go out today and win it.”

Stenson’s expectations were tempered not only because of his position (four back) but also because of the player he was chasing – a high-powered birdie machine who typically moves only one direction: Forward.

McIlroy’s flat start and Stenson’s front-nine surge (30) gave the Swede a chance for a long-awaited major title, but his rally-killing three-putt on 14 dropped him out of the lead, and a mud ball in the 18th fairway ended any hopes for a closing eagle.

Against a player like McIlroy, every miscue is magnified. 

“I gave my all on every shot and every hole,” Stenson said. “That’s all you can do.”

In this new age, against this new king, even that won’t always be enough. 

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.