Woods suffers another failed weekend in a major

By Ryan LavnerAugust 13, 2012, 12:39 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – On the long walk back to the 13th tee, it’s virtually impossible to not steal a glance at the massive white leaderboard to the left. All the contenders were up there in black, bold-faced letters – MCILROY, PETTERSSON, POULTER, SCOTT, ROSE. And on the second-to-last rung, the seventh of eight names, was Tiger Woods.

A red 1: his score Sunday through 12 holes.

A red 3: his score through 66 holes.

Seven shots back at the time, his score was the highest of those still on the board, left there as perhaps a courtesy to inquiring fans. But instead it served to illustrate the obvious: It was another stalled weekend for Woods. 

And another lost year in the majors.

His even-par 72 Sunday in the PGA Championship kept alive one of the most unfathomable streaks of 2012: Not once in eight tries this season did he break par in a weekend round in a major. Woods finished this PGA in a tie for 11th at 2-under 286 – a distant 11 strokes behind winner Rory McIlroy.

In the past, we were compelled to watch Woods because it was a chance to witness history. These days, it seems, we watch because we’re intrigued. We watch because we don’t know which Tiger will show up: the guy who surgically maneuvered his way around the Ocean Course on Friday, or the guy who (on the easiest stretch of the course) made four bogeys in an eight-hole span Saturday to fall off the pace.

Not even Woods himself is quite sure anymore. Asked to explain another weekend slide, Woods offered a curious response: “I was trying to enjoy it – enjoy the process of it. But that’s not how I play. I play full-systems-go, all-out, intense, and that’s how I won 14 of these things.”

Enjoy? The pursuit of a major championship? It’s like the Terminator stopping to pose for pictures with civilians.

Arguably the most cutthroat competitor the game has ever seen – back in the day, Woods epitomized the phrase “step on their necks” – and arguably the most dominant closer in the sport’s history, conceded Sunday that during the third round he was trying to be “a little bit happy out there.”  

On Saturday afternoon, on both the range and the course, Woods was seen chitchatting with fellow playing competitor Vijay Singh – an old and sometimes contentious rival – as if they were former frat brothers at a class reunion. It made no sense, until now.

Wait, no.

It still doesn’t.

Pressed why he would change his approach – intentionally – after being so successful in this position in the past, Woods could only shake his head and say, “I don’t know. It was a bad move on my part.”

When he returns to Augusta National in April, he’ll be 37 years old and winless in his past 14 majors, the longest drought of his professional career. He’ll be 37 with a left knee that’s been operated on four times, with the psychological strain of two decades in the spotlight, with the mounting pressure that maybe, just maybe, time is running out on his pursuit to finally catch Jack Nicklaus.

Woods managed to go 0-for-4 this major season in myriad ways. Not once in four rounds did he break par at Augusta National, for years his personal playground. Two months later, at the U.S. Open, he held a share of the 36-hole lead, then shot 148 on the weekend to tumble down the leaderboard. At the British Open, he once again found himself in contention, but never diverged from his conservative game plan, even when the leaders began to pull away. Eventually, he finished T-3, his best finish in a major in nearly three years.

“The thing is to keep putting myself there,” Woods said. “I’m not going to win them all, and I haven’t won them all. But the key is putting myself there each and every time, and you know, I’ll start getting them again.”

This, however, represented as good a chance as any.

He had a piece of the 36-hole lead. He was only five back at the start of the final round, not an insurmountable deficit in this, the Year of the Meltdown. But the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island – dubbed by one prominent golf magazine as the hardest course in America – severely punishes those who stray off the fairway. So it was that late Sunday afternoon, when Woods needed to pile up birdies, post a low number and pray, two errant shots effectively ended his slim chances to contend.

Twice on the back nine he mingled amongst the red-faced and sweat-soaked spectators. On the par-4 10th, his drive sailed so far left, his ball came to rest on a sandy pathway near a garbage disposal. You could smell the hamburgers. Heck, he was so close to the concession stand, he probably could have grabbed one, too.

Such a scene was thrown into sharp relief with what we witnessed Friday from Woods: a 71 in wind-swept conditions, a ball-striking clinic, a round so spectacular that it prompted young Keegan Bradley to gush that it was one of the best rounds he’s seen. Ever.

Then Saturday came, and much like this year’s U.S. Open, Woods faded fast. (His third-round scoring average in the majors: 72.75.) Whatever the reason – he was uncomfortable with his revamped swing, he misread the Paspalum greens, he was too relaxed at Kiawah – he played the first eight holes in 4 over par, and never again was a factor. That slide prompted one wise guy in the crowd to quip that, these days, Woods takes more weekends off than a stock broker.

Now, we’ve gone more than four years and 14 majors without seeing the most prolific winner of this generation hoist one of golf’s most important trophies. The task only figures to get more arduous now, after weighing such factors as his age (37 in December), his injury history (knee and Achilles issues) and his rapidly rising challengers (impressed by McIlroy, anyone?).

In the past two years, under the guidance of coach Sean Foley, Woods has been refashioned as a punishing ball-striker. That is good enough to put him in contention most weeks – let’s not forget, for his four major flameouts, he’s still won three times this season on the PGA Tour – but even machines occasionally malfunction. A tidy short game has proved just as important.

And it is those instances when Woods “marries the two together,” as he said he did in Friday’s second round, when he is at the height of his powers. Problem is, that marriage is occurring with less frequency now. The streaky putter either slays or saves him.

Perhaps it’s no small coincidence, then, that here through two rounds, when he held a share of the 36-hole lead, he required only 48 swipes with the putter. (Said Woods, “The first couple of days, every putt just seemed easy.”) Over the weekend, he needed 60 putts when apparently his focus was elsewhere, on employing a cheery disposition.

Only on Saturday afternoon, during a weather delay, did Woods realize that his bizarre plan to soak up the moment had backfired.

It’s too bad. By then, his 2012 major season had already been lost.

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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.