'Tis the season to start thinking about a golf sojourn to Scotland or Ireland

By Mike BaileyNovember 18, 2013, 5:44 am

While most folks are thinking of turkey and football this time of year, some golfers are dreaming of Scotland and Ireland. Why? Because when families get together for the holidays, that's when many of them start considering golf trips together, particularly near the birthplace of our sport.

And if you're thinking about a golf pilgrimage across the pond next summer, you should probably get busy now. In fact, it's not a bad idea to think a year or more in advance to book the best courses at the best times, but you definitely don't want to wait until next year. That could be too late.

"The later you in the year you start planning to book for next year, the less success you're going to have in terms of securing consecutive golf courses on consecutive days," says Marty Carr, CEO of the Carr Group and Carr Golf Travel, a Dublin, Ireland-based tour operator that puts together trips and packages to Scotland and Ireland. 

And next year should be a particularly busy year with the Ryder Cup returning to Scotland the first time since 1973 (Muirfield). It will be played on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, Sept. 26-28.

"Visitor numbers to Scotland are expected to surge," says Mike Brassil, travel executive for Carr Golf Travel, "meaning tee times are going to be scarce."

But certainly not impossible, especially if you start planning and putting together your journey now.

Carr's advice -- although he admits is a bit self-serving -- is to use a reputable tour operator, which also sets up meals, accommodations and a few other activities.

While almost every course has public access, it can be limited. For example, Carr points out that Muirfield only takes outside play on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the Old Course at St. Andrews is closed on Sundays. "So you've got to work all those nuances into the flow of the trip," he says.

And if you're looking to book anything that's hot, earlier is certainly better.

Video: Ginella on Southwest Ireland

One new course that's getting rave reviews is the new Trump International, ranked No. 1 on Golfweek's best modern list for Great Britain and Ireland. Located in Scotland between Aberdeen and Cruden Bay, it rivals Kingsbarns as the best modern course in Scotland. And best of all, it's surrounded by several other great courses, including Cruden Bay, which you will also want to play.

"I think one of the smartest things Donald Trump did was that he retained Martin Hawtree, who in my view is the best links golf course designer in the world – by far," Carr says. "The feedback we're getting from customers is fantastic."

Again, the easiest way to play Trump International, and many other courses is Scotland and Ireland, would be to book a package. Carr Golf is offering an eight-day Trump Tour as well as several others for 2014, including a Royal Troon/Turnberry Tour and a Fife package that guarantees a tee time at the Old Course.

Ireland, of course, is no less desirable. Examples of Carr packages include: Dublin, where you can play The European Club, Port Marnock, The K Club and Royal Dublin, just to name a few; and the Best of the Southwest package, where you fly into Shannon Airport and play the likes of Old Head, Waterville, Tralee, Ballybunion, Doonbeg and Lahinch.

Old Head, by the way, was designed Carr's father, Joe Carr, a world-class Irish amateur player in the 1940s, '50s and 60s. And it's the site for a couple of family tournaments that Carr Golf Travel operates – the World Invitational Father& Daughter (July 20-23) and Celtic Couples Challenge (dates TBA). Carr's World Invitational Father & Son Tournament is conducted at Waterville in August. All of this could make for stimulating Thanksgiving dinner conversation.

Just saying.

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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.