No 1 UCLA women set to defend NCAA title

By Associated PressMay 21, 2012, 11:21 pm

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Another NCAA championship is stocked with Southeastern Conference teams looking to add one more title to the league's crowded trophy case.

The NCAA women's golf championship begins Tuesday at the Legends Club, the home course for Vanderbilt - one of seven SEC teams looking to finish the week by lifting the trophy. LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida also are here, giving the SEC more teams than any other conference.

''We want to win, and there's no doubt about that,'' Vanderbilt coach Greg Allen said on Monday after his Commodores played nine practice holes. ''We keep telling them what they accomplished last week is by far more pressure than they're going to feel this week.''

His players were on the cut line after 18 holes only to rebound and qualify for the championship by finishing second at the Central Regional at Ohio State. They also have senior Marina Alex, a two-time SEC player of the year, as they host the first Division I national championship ever played in middle Tennessee.

''There's nothing like this,'' Alex said. ''We've never hosted a regional or an SEC championship, and this is bigger than both of them, so it's quite an experience.''

The Commodores have plenty of company with 24 total teams competing for the national title led by defending champion UCLA. The Bruins have been the top-ranked program for the longest stretch under coach Carrie Forsyth, and their seven wins in 11 tournaments is best in the country. They finished no worse than runner-up in three other events, and Forsyth has three players ranked among the top 15 by either GolfStat or GolfWeek.

''Last year was last year,'' Forsyth said. ''We have a couple different players. The golf course is different than the course we played last year. Nothing ever stays the same in golf, so you've got to do the best you can on every course with any lineup.''

Among the tournaments UCLA won was on this course last September in Vanderbilt's annual Mason Rudolph Fall Preview by six strokes over Alabama. Forsyth and her Bruins are trying to repeat as champs, something that hasn't been done since Duke won three straight titles between 2005 and 2007.

''We're really comfortable with the golf course, with the facility,'' UCLA junior Tiffany Lua said. ''We love the greens. Definitely winning the Fall Preview gave us a confidence boost. We're just looking to go out there to play one shot at a time.''

They better because Purdue, the 2010 champion, is in the field along with Duke, led by Lindy Duncan, the nation's top-ranked player. There's also LSU, a program that finished third a year ago and tied top-seeded UCLA at the West Regional with seeding going into the event being the tiebreaker. The Lady Tigers are led by Austin Ernst, who also is defending the individual championship she won as a freshman.

''It's all about peaking at the right time of the year, and I feel like they're in a good place,'' LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said. ''They're hitting the ball really good, and it's just a matter of going out and playing this golf course really smart.''

Ernst's win in this event a year ago set off quite a run. She won the Cougar Classic last fall, made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year and was named to the Curtis Cup team. Ernst, whose father Mark is a PGA club professional in South Carolina, also is the highest-rated American amateur and No. 7 in the world.

Tying UCLA at the West Regional has pumped up not only Ernst's confidence but her teammates as well.

''We know our capabilities,'' Ernst said. ''We know we can win. Coming off of last year, we got third. We were right here. I feel like this team this year, we're even better, so I feel like we have a really good chance. And obviously tied for the lead last week we had a really good chance to pull it out ... We had a good chance to win it outright. I think we're about as confident as we're going to get.''

The North Course hosted an LPGA event for a few years, but this week the course will play 6,377 yards with a couple changes. No. 4 will be played as a long par 4 instead of a par 5, while No. 9 will play about 455 yards as a par 5. Vanderbilt switched out the greens from bent grass to Bermuda dwarf grass last year, local knowledge Allen said the Commodores hope to use to their advantage.

But the grass is very similar to what LSU has on its own greens at the Lady Tigers' home course.

''It's a good championship layout, and I think it's a good test,'' Bahnsen said.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."