2014 Ryder Cup host Gleneagles readies for its moment in the sun (or rain)

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2012, 4:49 am

PERTHSHIRE, Scotland – Caird Miller, a former bank manager with a round face that seems permanently twisted into a welcoming smile, thrusts a pair of “Wellies” and thick hunting jacket in our direction with a snort, “You never know with the weather.”

In this slice of Scotland that’s not entirely true. To be precise, what you get is a steady diet of Mother Nature’s full repertoire, which is why Miller left nothing to chance as he marched his American visitors out of the posh Gleneagles Hotel to a trout lake for a fly fishing lesson. The weather did not disappoint.

It’s mid-July and the day alternates between a cold wind and light rain followed by bouts of warmth and sunshine, a familiar weather pattern perfectly suited for fly fishing if not the continued evolution of the hotel’s PGA Centenary Course.

The layout reopened in April after a Jack Nicklaus-led nip/tuck in preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup. Of all the changes – which included 50,000 tons of displaced soil and 30,000 square meters of new turf – it was the installation of a state-of-art drainage system that promises to keep the focus on the ’14 matches, not the mud (see Cup, Ryder 2010 in Wales).

In this Miller had no doubt, either in the Centenary layout’s ability to withstand whatever weather may come or the home side’s chances. “It will be in good shape to give you a good stuffing,” he laughs without looking up from his fly.

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Whether the European team, which has not lost on home soil since 1993, is up to the challenge remains to be seen, but it seems the Centenary Course, a distinctly American-style parkland design, will be ready for what is sure to be an agronomic challenge.

In fact, the ’14 matches may become known as the SubAir Cup if the weather follows its traditional September script, which is to say wet. The SubAir drainage system was installed in all 18 greens and officials also followed the “Better Billy Bunker Method” that was developed at Augusta National Golf Club to ready the layout for whatever may come, rain or shine.

“Some of the technology we’re using really is at the cutting edge,” says Scott Fenwick, the hotel’s golf and estate manager. “We’re the first club in the U.K. to have a fully installed SubAir system on all 18 greens – which should help the greens withstand some of the vagaries of Scotland’s climate.”

In addition to preparing for whatever Mother Nature can dole out, Nicklaus reworked the original design to also test the world’s top 24 players, or your average 24-handicap for that matter, with significant changes to nearly every hole.

The most dramatic alterations occurred at the 18th hole, a par 5 played up a hill to a natural amphitheater. The championship tees were elevated and fairway lowered to give players a better view of the landing area and create more of a risk/reward opportunity.

“It was considered an American-style course when it was first built (1993), but now it’s fitting in better with the landscape,” said Billy Murray, the hotel’s golf marketing manager.

Perhaps, but the Centenary Course – dubbed the Monarchs when it first opened – has a lot of growing to do if it is going to catch up with the adjacent King’s and Queen’s layouts, James Braid-designed gems that opened in 1919.

While the Centenary is straightforward and all about shot-making, the King’s and Queen’s are quirky, littered with blind shots and seamlessly placed amid the rolling hills. Ascend the hill from the first tee on the King’s Course and step back in time when this enclave was a railway stopover to points north.

It is the dichotomy of Gleneagles, a fusion of old (ageless architecture and holiday staples like falconry and fly fishing) and new (a modern spa and an adventurous off-road course).

For Gleneagles, which has hosted numerous European Tour events including this year’s Johnnie Walker Championship, the ’14 Ryder Cup will serve as a reintroduction that has been years in the making. From the makeover of the Centenary Course to a complete overhaul of the iconic hotel the matches will be the metaphorical split in the road for the venerable hotel.

Like the Ryder Cup, Gleneagles has grown up, reinvented itself and, as much as one can, readied itself for the onslaught from what is expected to be record crowds and, yes, Mother Nature.

It was on the off-road course, which is the one slice of Gleneagles life that relishes rain and mud, where the Ryder Cup experience strangely comes full circle.

From his passenger seat instructor Duncan Eade smiles his approval as a modified Range Rover lurches its way up a rutted hill along the River Knaik: “The more you force it the harder it is to go along,” he figures, and the thought occurs that is the perfect metaphor, for Gleneagles and the 2014 Ryder Cup players.

More: A Spring fling through Scotland from Crail to Machrihanish

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.