U.S. succeeding without points from Woods, Stricker

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 30, 2012, 2:30 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – Really, it’s a testament to the depth and quality of team that captain Davis Love III has assembled here at Medinah.

Tiger Woods has yet to contribute a single point for the Americans at the Ryder Cup . . . and the U.S. team still leads, 10-6, heading into Sunday singles. That pop sound you heard is just the champagne being uncorked. Keep it chilled at 38 degrees, please.

Tiger Woods, zero points. That thought once seemed inconceivable. After all, the Americans needed him. They needed his otherworldly talent. They needed his experience. They needed his flair, his spark, his doggedness.

Yet there’s a strange and undeniable feeling floating around the U.S. team room this week. Even though Woods and partner Steve Stricker dropped to 0-3 this week, thereby ensuring that they’re the only Americans who have yet to find the win column, the prevailing belief among the Americans is that they have the best team – certainly the best putters – with or without a supercharged Tiger boost.

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Said Matt Kuchar, “It’s hard to believe Tiger hasn’t gotten a point pairing up with Stricker. They make a great team. But we’ve got 12 really good players.”

Said Zach Johnson, “We have a good team. We have got chemistry. We have got camaraderie. We have talent. We want it.”

This could have been a glorious moment for Woods, and perhaps it still might. He’s 36 years old, no longer the most dominant player in the game, and at this stage in his career he’s still wildly competitive but also in the unique position in which he can be a leader, a mentor and a motivator.

This Ryder Cup, in particular, hosted on a course at which he’s won two of his 14 majors, offered Woods a chance to take a large pink eraser to one of the only blemishes – however miniscule – on his sterling resume. In Ryder Cup team play, his record entering these matches was 9-13-1, but hey, for three days he could embrace the experience (as he did last November at the Presidents Cup), and he could embrace the rookies, who have paced the Americans to the comfortable lead after four sessions.

It hasn’t quite panned out that way, of course – the whole leading with his game and his words thing – and after three fruitless sessions, it’s instructive to review Woods’ comments from this past Tuesday. When asked why the Americans have won only two of the past eight Ryder Cups, Woods said, “Well, certainly I am responsible for that because I didn’t earn the points that I was put out there for. … I needed to go get my points for my team, and I didn’t do that.”

Shockingly, he hasn’t done that at Medinah, either.

In Friday morning foursomes, both he and Stricker played miserably and lost to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. Later that day, the U.S. pair lost again, to rookie Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood, a defeat that could easily have been dismissed by the fact that Tiger made seven birdies on the day, Stricker made nothing outside 4 feet, and Colsaerts authored one of the best Ryder Cup debuts in history, recording eight birdies and an eagle on his own ball in a 1-up victory.

Still, the once-unbeatable pair of Woods and Stricker was 0-2. Tiger was even benched for Saturday foursomes. Some suggested that he needed to test free agency and find another partner.

Yet there they were, on a sun-drenched fall afternoon, paired together in Match 3 against Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, trying to remain relevant and contribute something – anything – to the American cause.

It didn’t start in promising fashion, just as it hasn’t all week. On the opening nine Saturday, Woods and Stricker rarely walked together down the fairway – partly because Tiger was focused on sorting out his own game, also because he and his partner rarely drove it in the same direction.

Through four holes, the Americans were 3 down. At the turn, they were 4 down.

But on the back nine, Woods and Stricker combined to go 6 under – red-hot play that even included close-range birdie misses on Nos. 11 and 15 – and nearly erased a 4-down deficit.

On the par-4 finishing hole, and after a stirring halve on the par-3 17th in which both Woods and Donald hit their tee shots inside 5 feet, Stricker hit the lip on a 10-foot birdie putt that could have secured a half point.

Four years ago, a Tiger-less U.S. team won convincingly at Valhalla. And now? That 1-up defeat late Saturday afternoon ensured that Woods and Stricker would be winless as they head into Sunday singles, the only Americans who haven’t yet contributed a point – and still the scoreboard to the right side of 18 green read, U.S. 10, Europe 6.

“We fought hard,” Woods said of his fourballs loss. “Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. We gave ourselves two good looks on 18, and didn’t get it done.”

The sting from that defeat apparently would not linger. After their brief media obligations, Woods and Stricker walked together, their arms slung around the others’ shoulders, as teammates and good friends and fierce competitors who just happened to have been on the wrong side of three highly publicized matches.

Their teammates, though, have picked them up, offered them encouragement and put plenty of points on the board, because that’s what teammates do. And now, finally, after all these years, the U.S. has a team. A real team, with 12 players, each with valuable assets.

On Sunday, one of the most exhilarating days on the golf calendar, Woods will face Francesco Molinari in the anchor match.

Will the 12th match even matter? Probably not. After all, the Americans need only 4 1/2 points to win back the cup, and they could clinch long before Woods’ match reaches its conclusion.

But strangely, incredibly, that would be appropriate.

This week at Medinah, the U.S. team hasn’t needed him. 

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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.