Day, Piercy paired again in final round of a big event

By Will GrayJuly 2, 2016, 11:38 pm

AKRON, Ohio – The final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will serve as a bit of a reunion for Jason Day and Scott Piercy.

It was nearly 10 months ago that Day and Piercy were paired for the final round of the BMW Championship, an event that Day won and where Piercy finished third, earning a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship.

This time around, both players will head to the first tee with a little more confidence than they had in Chicago, as each looks to add a notable title to his resume.

For Day, this is a chance to continue what is shaping up to be a Player of the Year season. The world No. 1 already has three PGA Tour wins, including a WGC victory in Texas. While his ball-striking wasn’t sharp during the third round at Firestone Country Club, he plans to rely on his record of recent success, one that includes converting each of his last five opportunities with at least a share of the 54-hole lead into a win.

“If I can hit it decent tomorrow, I’ll give myself more opportunities on the greens, and I feel pretty confident with my putting that I can hole anything on the greens,” Day said after a third-round 69. “Just got to keep focused and try to get it done somehow.”

For Piercy, the transformation from September may have gone a bit less noticed. It’s a return to form that included a runner-up finish last month at the U.S. Open, his best career finish in a major.

But according to Piercy, the roots of his comeback trace all the way back to last year’s Barbasol Championship. While the best players in the world were competing in the Open Championship, Piercy went to Opelika, Ala., and had what he called the best ball-striking week of his life.

It led to a win, the third of Piercy’s career and one that signaled that he was officially on the comeback trail after an elbow injury cost him most of the 2013-14 season.

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p>“That was really the time where – even though I played good when I came back, I was kind of playing with only a few gears instead of five or six gears,” Piercy said. “Since then, Memorial of last year, I think I’ve only missed two cuts, so I’ve been pretty consistent.”

Piercy might be selling his recent results short by simply calling them consistent. He has finished T-29 or better in five straight significant events since March, a run that includes two majors, two WGCs and The Players Championship.

Now he sits 18 holes away from what would be the most significant win of his career.

“I won an opposite-field event (in 2011) and then I won the Canadian Open (in 2012). I kind of felt like the next step was to win a WGC or a major, then I got hurt after that so I kind of regressed,” Piercy said. “Hopefully the next step is kind of getting back. I feel like a better player now than when I got hurt.”

Piercy is markedly better than where he was even in September, but he faces a significant hurdle in that Day isn’t the same player, either.

The Aussie used that win at Conway Farms to reach world No. 1 for the first time, but he hasn’t exactly slowed down since then. Three more trophies have followed, and they have only served to fuel Day’s insatiable quest to win basically anything in sight.

His budding relationship with Tiger Woods has been well-documented, as has the fact that he has started to take a few pages from Woods’ well-established game plan: grow a two-shot lead into three; turn four wins into six; create even more distance atop the world rankings once you reach the top perch.

Day has embraced the grind-it-out mentality required this week at Firestone, and it has largely contributed to the fact that he shares the lead despite spraying the ball for much of the third round.

This event has served as a fine example of the potent, two-part advantage he has sported over his peers for much of the last year. Often times, his physical ability is enough to separate from the pack. But when the swing isn’t cooperating, he also has the mental acuity and resolve to not only salvage rounds, but win tournaments.

“If I come out tomorrow and hit it everywhere, then I’m just going to embrace it and try and grind it out,” Day said. “The good thing is that I’m tied for the lead going into tomorrow’s round, and that’s exactly where I wanted to be at the start of the week.”

A sizeable incentive looms for both men, reunited nearly a year after they last crossed paths. For Piercy, it’s an opportunity to cap off his journey back to the game’s upper echelon.

Day, meanwhile, will look to add another title to his growing resume by keeping it simple.

“The biggest thing for me,” he said. “is just to find my golf ball and hit it again, and try and hit it less than everyone else tomorrow.”

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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 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.