Furyk making case to be Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2016, 12:59 am

GREENSBORO, N.C. – After months of plotting, planning and Task Force-ing, the Ryder Cup is now in sight. In just over a month, Davis Love III’s roster will be finalized, 12 brave souls out to avenge the one that got away for him at Medinah four years ago.

The U.S. camp has vowed to try something different. Shake things up. Throw out the plans that led to six losses in the last seven Ryder Cups.

But it appears with increasing likelihood that a link to America’s shaky past will be a part of the group donning the red, white and blue at Hazeltine.

Attention, U.S. fans: Jim Furyk is going to be on the U.S. team. The sooner we all come to accept this notion, the easier it will be to move on.

We’ve known for months that Furyk will be one of Love’s four assistants. But amid a torrid summer stretch that now includes contending at the halfway point of the Wyndham Championship, Furyk has become a prime candidate for one of Love’s four captain’s selections.

This is the same Jim Furyk who has compiled a 10-20-4 individual record in the Ryder Cup. It’s the same player who was nearly brought to his knees by a Sunday singles loss to Sergio Garcia in 2012, a pivotal result that helped the Euros retain the trophy.

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But Furyk’s individual record is nearly reversed in the Presidents Cup matches (20-10-3), lending credence to the notion that his match-play success or failure depends in large part on who’s pegging it for the other side. Then there’s the hard-to-ignore fact that he’s playing well. Really, really well.

Fresh off his record-breaking 58, Furyk is again cruising this week at Sedgefield, relying on accurate ball-striking to climb into a tie for second at the halfway mark. He compiled a streak of 38 straight greens in regulation that ended in Friday's 64, and through two rounds he has missed only two greens and three fairways.

“I’ve had a really good ball-striking year, one of the best I can remember. I wouldn’t have guessed that coming off a seven- to eight-month layoff with the injury,” Furyk said. “I’ve just had a really good feeling most of the year with my ball-striking.”

Indeed, Furyk has made up quickly for lost time. He didn’t make his season debut until the Wells Fargo Championship in May, sidelined longer than expected with a lingering wrist injury. But he has already played his way into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, vaulting past some players who had more than twice his 11 starts to date.

Then there’s the sense that Love seems to be looking for a reason add Furyk to the team.

At his press conference before the PGA Championship, Love mentioned Furyk by name a total of seven times – more than any other player. Those mentions included heaps of praise for his friend and assistant, and a hint at adjusting his criteria to account for the time Furyk missed with injury.

“We will factor that in there, that Jim Furyk missed a lot of tournaments that he played really well,” Love said at Baltusrol. “I’ll have the stat crunchers go back and run 10,000 times if Jim Furyk played his normal schedule, where he would have finished, and he’ll probably pop right back up into the top five or six.”

Of course, that was before Furyk lowered the PGA Tour’s all-time scoring mark, and before he striped his way onto the Wyndham leaderboard. Even during his press conference Thursday at Sedgefield, Love mentioned Furyk’s name when discussing the “unofficial points list” he plans to use as a guide for his selections.

“You know, Jim Furyk played one, did probably one of the best rounds ever played in the history of the PGA Tour and he didn’t really move up much in points, but he got everybody’s attention that he’s playing really well,” Love said. “Then you go back and look, wow, Jim, he played great at the U.S. Open, he’s played really well in a lot of big tournaments coming after his wrist problem.”

Love added that a key criteria for selections will be who’s hot when it’s time to make the first three of his four picks on Sept. 11. Of those near the bubble, none have distinguished themselves in recent weeks quite like Furyk has – not Brandt Snedeker, not Bubba Watson and certainly not Rickie Fowler.

On Friday, Furyk downplayed his potential candidacy. At No. 106 in the FedEx Cup race, he insisted, his focus is simply to play his way to the Deutsche Bank Championship and beyond.

“I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about playing,” Furyk said. “I’ll take it one day at a time, and go play. If I get in that discussion and those guys see a fit, great. If not, I’m going to be there to help a good friend of mine as captain and help the team out the best I can.”

But make no mistake, in the span of a few short months Furyk has zoomed past a number of potential team members and now sits in prime position to make his 10th straight squad, a run of longevity rivaled only by Phil Mickelson.

The goal for the U.S. side at Hazeltine will be to reverse nearly two decades of futility. To do so, however, they’ll likely call upon a player who bore witness to the entire stretch of European domination.

When the roster of 12 Americans is finalized next month, Furyk’s name – for better or worse – will be on the list. Get used to it.

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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.