Watney leads Wyndham as Sunday shootout looms

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2014, 11:45 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – If the third round of the Wyndham Championship is any indication, the PGA Tour’s regular season is about to end with a birdie barrage.

The leaderboards at Sedgefield Country Club were coated with red numbers Saturday, as players jockeyed for position in the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs. At one point 13 names were separated by a single shot, and seven players will begin the final round with a realistic shot at hoisting the trophy.

The man they’ll all be chasing is Nick Watney, who grabbed sole possession of the lead when he buried a 19-foot putt from off the fringe on the 18th hole. His third-round 65 came on the heels of a 6-under 64 in Round 2, and Watney has made only one bogey through 54 holes thanks to a hot putter.

“This is probably the best I’ve putted for three days so far in a row, for a week or for the year,” he said. “When you’re making putts, the game gets a lot easier.”

Watney has suffered through a disappointing season, and after beginning the year ranked No. 30 in the world he teed it up this week ranked No. 75. Two weeks ago, he teed it up at the Barracuda Championship when he missed his first WGC event since 2009.

Watney’s poor play reached a low when, after missing the cut at the Open Championship by one shot, his fate for the FedEx Cup playoffs seemed in doubt. He pointed to the trans-Atlantic flight that followed as a turning point.

“I sort of went to Canada and said, ‘I feel like my game is headed in a really good direction. Haven’t been getting the results but we just need to put our head down and play every week and just enjoy it,” he said. “I was getting to the point where, I don’t know what number (in the standings), I felt I stopped looking because it was kind of depressing.”

Wyndham Championship: Articles, videos and photos

The turnaround began the following week at the RBC Canadian Open, where he tied for 12th, then continued with a T-8 in Reno. With his spot in the postseason now secure, Watney is turning his attention toward winning for the first time since 2012.

“I know I’ve had good years when I haven’t won,” he said. “So having a year like this and end up winning a tournament…it would be a huge bonus, and kind of I guess affirm what I’ve been working on.”

Watney, though, is not the only player poised for what could be a season-defining moment. Brad Fritsch is the newest poster child for the FedEx Cup bubble madness, and Sunday will be playing not just for his first PGA Tour win, but his card for next season.

The Canadian entered this week at No. 163 in the points race, and likely needs a two-way tie for second to punch his ticket to The Barclays, although he could lock up his card for 2014-15 with a two-way tie for third, which would allow him to crack the top 125 in earnings.

Of course, Fritsch could take care of everything – and cement his status through 2016 – with a victory. He’ll begin the day at 13 under, one shot behind Watney and playing in the final group for the first time in his career.

“I’m just going to focus on not making mistakes, hitting good shots,” said Fritsch. "I try my best every shot, and whatever happens will happen tomorrow.”

Fritsch is no stranger to these 11th-hour stakes. Last year he finished No. 129 in the FedEx Cup standings and had to play in the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals. After missing the first three cuts in the four-event series, he closed with a final-round 66 to tie for second at the Web.com Tour Championship and earn a return trip to the main circuit.

“I put my back against the wall several times, and usually come out okay on the other end,” Fritsch said. “Last year I made nine birdies in the final round to get my card. It’s always something to fall back on.”

The chase pack also extends beyond Fritsch to include Heath Slocum and Fredrik Jacobson, a pair of PGA Tour winners who are both two shots off the pace with one round to go. Slocum, who played in Saturday’s final pairing, hasn’t cracked the top 10 since winning the 2010 McGladrey Classic but continues to enjoy the thrill of contending after a 2-under 68.

“Golf is just way more fun this way,” he said. “I think maybe getting my butt kicked for a few years and not being in contention for a while, you get back and you remember how much fun it was, and you miss it so much.”

Lurking in the distance, just one shot further back at 11-under 199, are two of the field’s biggest names. Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson are both former Wyndham champions, and the two will be paired together for the third time this week as they look to reclaim the Sam Snead Cup.

“I think it takes pressure off, knowing that all the guys around 10, 11 under have to go out and shoot a really low number,” Simpson said after a third-round 66. “It’s not like we’re going out trying to hang on to the lead.”

With favorable pin positions anticipated, the target score for the final round remains anyone’s guess. Fritsch felt the winning score could be as low as 20 under, a barrier not reached at Sedgefield since Arjun Atwal’s improbable win in 2010.

The leaderboards at Sedgefield will certainly turn red once again on Sunday, but that’s not an issue according to the man in front.

“It doesn’t really change,” Watney said. “I assume that when I tee off, I probably won’t be in the lead or tied for the lead, so it’s not like I’m protecting anything tomorrow. Just more of the same.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

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.