R&R a must for Tour players

By Ryan LavnerApril 27, 2016, 8:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – If you can look past the shirtless rounds and the board shorts, the Styrofoam cups and the leaps into the marina, the dancing on the carts and the announcer impressions, there was an unmistakable message emanating from the Bahamas last week:

These guys needed a break.

“It was nice to be able to get away,” Rickie Fowler said Wednesday, “to recharge, reset, and especially to get ready for the stretch that we have coming up.”

The ringleader of #SB2K16, Fowler attempted to downplay the Baker’s Bay boondoggle when he met with the media at the Zurich Classic. That was no surprise. He was back at work.

He had just finished his pro-am round. Corporate sponsors adorned his shirt and hat. A 7:50 a.m. tee time loomed. Party time was over.

But the larger point remains: Top players must find their own ways to hit the refresh button during a marathon season. It just so happened, Fowler said, that their “schedules were friendly” and they could organize a weeklong extravaganza at a luxury golf and beach resort.

“It felt like the right time to be able to get everyone together,” he said.

Of course, they aren't the first or the last players to go on vacation.

Justin Rose flew to the Bahamas after the Masters, as well, though every hour of his trip wasn’t documented on social media.

“I just find it therapeutic,” he said.

It’s nothing new for him to shelve the clubs and get away from the game, whether he’s boating, fishing or snorkeling. When he’s home, he unwinds while chasing after his two kids (ages 4 and 7) on the soccer field or on the range.

Fresh off his only two-week break of the season, Rose said his time away is always a mix of relaxation and preparation.

“I feel like sometimes in a sense we’re actors,” he said, “and at home we’re learning our lines, and then we come out on Tour and we’re delivering a performance. A lot of work is done at home to get ready to compete. It’s not like we play 20 weeks a year and we’re in the Bahamas the other 32 weeks of the year enjoying ourselves. 

“There are certain times of year where I think it’s important to blow off some steam, and certainly after Augusta is one.”

Charley Hoffman, a winner last week in San Antonio, is playing for the eighth time in nine weeks. He has three getaways planned this year, including one next week in – you guessed it – the Bahamas. Unlike Rose or golf’s frat brothers, though, his days will be wide open.

“I’m pretty good sitting around the pool drinking beer and hanging out, to be completely honest with you,” he said. 

But that doesn’t work for everyone. Jason Day prefers to get lost in his work, even when he’s not on Tour.

Yes, he’s in a different place in his life than the spring breakers, with a wife and two young kids, but prior to last week, the world No. 1 had been home in Akron, Ohio, for only 10 days since Dec. 28. (During the West Coast swing, he stays at the Vintage Club in Palm Springs, and when the Tour moves east he sets up shop at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.) That’s a window into the life of the modern Tour player, who oftentimes still works a 9-to-5 on non-tournament weeks, except his days consist of grueling 90-minute workouts and hours spent on the range, putting green and short-game area.

“If you want to be the best in the world,” Day said, “you have to work harder than everyone else, and you have to be in front of your competition. If I decrease that volume of practice, sooner or later it will catch up to my game. Not straight away, but down the road it will catch up and then my level of play will come down. Unfortunately, that’s just how it is.”

To which there is an obvious follow-up: Isn’t there an inherent danger of pushing too hard, of burning out?

“I know mentally, deep down inside, that if I don’t work, I’m going to play bad golf, and there’s nothing worse in this world right now than me playing bad golf,” he said. “I hate it. I’m trying to win as much as I can. I don’t know if it’s in my nature, but I need to do that. That’s just me.”

Interestingly, it was Day who admitted recently that he was worried about Jordan Spieth, his friend and rival. He said that Spieth’s game hadn’t been as sharp since he spent a few months playing and spreading his brand across the globe; that he didn’t want the 22-year-old to get run-down at such a young age.

And that’s why Spieth’s presence in the Bahamas was so refreshing – he was letting loose, trading in soft spikes for sandals, punching his own refresh button. Though he had a whirlwind stretch to start the new year, Spieth is now in the midst of a full month off between the Masters and The Players. This break couldn’t have come at a better time, either, after his shocking final round at Augusta.

That Smylie Kaufman – who played alongside Spieth on Masters Sunday and shot 81 – rounded out the glamorous foursome in the Bahamas was merely a coincidence. He said he received the invite more than a month ago.

Earlier this year, Fowler had advised Kaufman, a Tour rookie, to find two-week breaks throughout the season: one week of relaxation, the other spent working and training. You probably can guess which week #SB2K16 fell under.

“We had an unbelievable time, decompressed,” Kaufman said. “Obviously the golf world got to see everything we did, and it was really fun for us. But it’s over now, and we’re all looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.