Sun Devils Lead After First Round

By Associated PressMay 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
NCAAUPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- Eileen Vargas has been patient and the results are easy to see.
The Pepperdine junior shot a 1-under-par 71 Wednesday to extend her lead to four shots at the 25th NCAA women's golf championships.
Vargas has been content to pick her spots and leave it to others to fire at the pins.
'You can't force it,' she said. 'You can't go out there and say, 'I'm going to birdie every single hole.' It's a very challenging golf course. You have to keep it simple. It's fairways and greens and trying to make putts.'
Arizona State, attempting to add to its record six national titles, built a three-stroke edge on defending champion Duke in the team competition. The Sun Devils led by 11 shots at one point but frittered away their bulging lead down the stretch.
'I'm happy with how we played up until the last four holes,' coach Melissa Luellen said. 'One time I looked and we were 11 shots ahead and kind of getting comfortable. Sometimes the players can look at that and kind of coast along instead of staying in their plan.'
Even though the Sun Devils began the day a shot back of Southern California, they were stone-faced as they walked to the putting green after completing play, aware they had wasted the chance to take a substantial lead.
'The wind kicked up a little bit and the greens were getting firmer,' Luellen said. 'The conditions seemed like they changed within the back nine. I don't think we adjusted very well.'
Vargas, who held a one-shot lead after her opening 68, stands at 5-under 139 midway through the tournament at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Arizona State's Jennifer Osborn was the only other player under par, shooting a 73 to stand at 1-under 143.
'It was harder to hold greens if you were attacking pins,' Osborn said of the Sun Devils' late slip. 'We may have gotten a little bit (mentally) tired. But we still hung in there, we're still doing OK. That's the main thing.'
The Sun Devils followed an opening 4-over 292 with a 294 and were at 10-over 586. Duke improved five shots from a first-round 297 to get to 589.
'That's more like it,' Duke coach Dan Brooks said. 'It's not like we didn't show up yesterday; I just think we had a learning day. We learned some today, too. There are some greens that are getting a little bit firmer. They're behaving like you would expect greens to behave on a new course.'
The tournament is the first event at Scarlet since Jack Nicklaus oversaw a $4.2-million update and reconstruction of Alister MacKenzie's design.
Southern California was another two shots back in third place at 591, followed by Tennessee (593), Purdue and Pepperdine (596), Auburn (599), Florida (600), LSU (605) and California (606).
Tiffany Tavee's second consecutive 72 was the low round for the Sun Devils. Besides Osborn's 73, Azahara Munoz had a 74 and Alissa Kuczka a 75.
Duke, the No. 1-ranked team in the regular season, was led by Elizabeth Janangelo, who shot a 71 after an opening 77. Jennie Lee had a 72, Amanda Blumenherst a 74 and 2005 NCAA medalist Anna Grzebien had a 75.
First-round leader USC needed 300 shots after taking 291 in the opening round.
Vargas, a native of Colombia, didn't have a bogey in her first-round 68 but opened the second round by dropping a shot on the first hole after hitting her drive into the left rough and behind three trees.
'I was actually pretty calm,' she said. 'On this type of course, a bogey is not something real bad. You have to let it be and keep going and forget about it. You can't change what you just did, so you move on.'
She recovered with birdies at holes No. 4 and 16, skirting trouble the rest of the way by finishing with only two missed fairways.
Osborn's round featured an eagle on the par-5 14th. She hit a driver and 3 wood to set up a 10-foot uphill putt.
Florida's Tiffany Chudy shot a 75 after an opening 69 and was at even-par 144 along with Tennessee's Violeta Retamoza, who had the low round of the day with a 69.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.