Setting the stage for the PGA Tour postseason

By Will GrayAugust 18, 2014, 5:47 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – We’ve finally made it.

With all due respect to Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour now has the longest regular season in sports. After all, when the season began 307 days ago, Tiger Woods’ position atop the game was unquestioned.

Instead, we wondered things like: Will Rory McIlroy ever figure out how to win with those pesky Nike clubs? Will Rickie Fowler ever add substance to his style? How many majors will Tiger win (not play) in 2014?

Oh, what a difference 10 months can make.

Forty-one events have come and gone during the split-year season, with 34 different players hoisting trophies from Jimmy Walker’s lid-lifter at the Open in October to Camilo Villegas’ victory Sunday at the Wyndham Championship.

With all of that now in the rearview mirror, the fun begins.

The Barclays kicks off a four-week binge of postseason golf, one that will see 123 qualifiers (Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner, both notably absent) pared down to 30 finalists at the Tour Championship and, ultimately, one FedEx Cup champion. While last season featured a mid-playoff bye week to alleviate the stress – while also halting some of the momentum – the action this time around will blend from one week to the next as the Tour visits New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado and Georgia in the span of 25 days.

When things begin this week, all eyes will be on Rory McIlroy as he looks to win his fourth high-profile event in a row. After two majors and a WGC victory, he has cemented his spot atop the world rankings, but the Ulsterman was in a similar position after his PGA Championship victory in 2012. He even won two postseason events that year, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship, but failed to leave East Lake with the FedEx Cup, which instead went to a hard-charging Brandt Snedeker.

Perhaps he’s motivated to avenge that loss, or perhaps he’s still counting his money from Valhalla and trading Twitter barbs with Ian Poulter. Time will tell.

While McIlroy has won everything in sight over the past month, several of the postseason favorites have yet to lift a trophy recently. At No. 5 in points, Jim Furyk is the highest-ranked player without a victory this season, but he’s not alone: Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth are just behind at Nos. 7 and 8, respectively, while Fowler’s quartet of top-five finishes in the majors means he will start the playoffs at No. 16 in points.

Only one player will win the $10 million annuity that comes with claiming the FedEx Cup, but there are still plenty of other meaningful incentives up for grabs. Each of the 30 players who make the Tour Championship field will be exempt into all four majors in 2015, which would be a massive bonus for someone like Charles Howell III, a native of Augusta, Ga., who seems to miss out on a trip to the Masters each year.

Howell will begin the playoffs at No. 33, while George McNeill will start at No. 41. McNeill, who came tantalizingly close to an emotional victory at The Greenbrier Classic, has won twice on the PGA Tour but has never made the trip down Magnolia Lane as a player.

And if subplots are more your thing, get ready for two weeks of WWWD: What Will Watson Do? No, not a game focused on Bubba’s mercurial relationship with caddie Ted Scott, but instead an attempt to predict what Captain Tom will do with his three U.S. Ryder Cup selections on Sept. 2.

Keegan Bradley remains a consensus pick, and will begin his two-week audition at Ridgewood. Two other notables already have a solid week of tryouts under their belts, though, as Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker matched each other shot-for-shot over the weekend in Greensboro and tied for fifth.

Neither was the low American name on the final leaderboard at Sedgefield. That was Bill Haas, who tied for second and is getting some traction as a possible selection. Outside of a withdrawal from the RBC Heritage, he hasn’t missed a cut all year.

The regular season is officially in the books, and the race is on to succeed Henrik Stenson as golf’s postseason champion. Four weeks, four elite fields, four world-class venues … Rory can’t win them all.


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.

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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.