'Bama! Tide rolls to first NCAA national championship

By Associated PressJune 2, 2013, 8:08 pm

MILTON, Ga. – With Alabama getting set to play in the final of the NCAA men's golf championship for the second year in a row, coach Jay Seawell got a good-natured call from Nick Saban.

Obviously, the Crimson Tide's football coach knows a thing or two about winning national titles.

''He asked, 'Do you want me to come over and coach your team?''' Seawell said Sunday, breaking into a big smile. ''I was like, 'Sure. You've got a better record in championships than I do.'''

No need. The Tide did just fine without Saban's help.

Showing again it's more than just a football school, Alabama won its first national title in men's golf with a dominating 4-1 victory over Illinois in match play Sunday.

This championship was especially sweet for a team that lost to Texas in last year's final.

''It's been a long 365 days,'' Seawell said. ''But that just makes it more special. It makes you appreciate it more.''

Bobby Wyatt got the Tide off to a rousing start in the first match at Capital City Club's Crabapple Course north of Atlanta, winning the first seven holes on the way to a 6-and-5 blowout of Thomas Detry. Alabama didn't have to sweat it in the final match, either, as Cory Whitsett went 5-up by the turn and cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over Alex Burge.

The middle three matches were much tighter – each of them all-square at one point coming down the stretch, giving Illinois a glimmer of hope at improbably pulling out its first national title.

But Trey Mullinax, after squandering chances to pull ahead with three-putts at the 14th and 16th, two-putted from 60 feet for a par at the 18th for a 1-up victory over Charlie Danielson. The Illinois player missed the green with his approach, chipped up to about 10 feet, but rolled the putt past the right lip of the cup for a bogey.

When Mullinax knocked down his 3-footer, a huge roar went up from the predominantly Alabama crowd that could be heard by the other groups still on the course.

After that, it ended quickly.

When Burge missed a 15-foot par putt at the 15th, he conceded Whitsett's short bogey attempt to end that match. Up ahead on the 16th green, at essentially the same time, Scott Strohmeyer rolled in a 3-footer for par to beat Brian Campbell 3-and-2.

''Roll Tide!'' someone in the gallery shouted.

Wyatt's strong start helped calm his teammates. They knew the Tide already had one point in the bag, which meant the other four players merely had to split their matches.

''He's a really streaky player,'' Whitsett said. ''When he gets hot, he's really hot. No one can beat him when he's firing on all cylinders.''

Even so, Wyatt never envisioned being 7-up as he walked off the seventh green.

''It doesn't get any better than that,'' he said. ''I just had to keep my head down, keep plugging along. I wanted to get to the finish as early as possible.''

Thomas Pieters, the 2012 individual champion, earned the Fighting Illini's lone point with a 1-up victory over Alabama's top-ranked player, Justin Thomas. That wasn't nearly enough to halt the Tide, which had been on a mission ever since the bitter loss to Texas a year ago.

Alabama lost to the Longhorns 3-2 when, on the final hole, Whitsett came up short of the green and missed a birdie chip, then watched helplessly while Dylan Frittelli rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to give Texas the crown.

''I remember kneeling beside my bag,'' Whitsett said. ''It's the worst I've ever felt on a golf course.''

This was the best.

''Pure joy,'' Whitsett said.

The victory came nearly five months after Alabama routed Notre Dame in college football's championship game, giving the school its third national title in four years in the sport that dominates most of the attention on campus.

But the Tide's athletic success goes far beyond the gridiron. Over the last two academic years, Alabama has also captured national championships in women's golf, softball and gymnastics.

''We are a football school. No doubt. We don't have a problem with that,'' Mullinax said. ''But I know the coaches on campus don't feel we're just a football school. We've got a lot of great athletes at Alabama. We're a great athletic school.''

The start of the match was moved up two hours because of the threat of an approaching storm, which was expected to hit the Atlanta area around mid-afternoon.

There was no rain during the match, which ended just before noon under partly sunny skies.

While Alabama was the nation's second-ranked team, the Fighting Illini was a surprising finalist. They stunned top-seeded California 3-2 in the semifinals when Pieters defeated individual champion Max Homa on the second extra hole of their match.

But Illinois couldn't pull off another upset.

''Alabama had an edge to it today,'' coach Mike Small said. ''We were up against a buzz saw.''

While the Fighting Illini has a bright future after sending out a lineup that included two freshmen and two sophomores, they'll have to make do next season without their top player.

Pieters, a native of Belgium, had already announced his junior season would be his last before he turns professional. He broke down in tears after coming so close to adding a team title to the individual championship he won in 2012.

''I don't think a lot of people expected us to be in the national championship,'' Pieters said. ''We thought we could do it. We worked so hard to get to this moment. It's a shame we didn't get it done today. But Alabama played really, really well.''

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."