Wilson propels Stanford into men's NCAA semis

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2014, 6:39 pm

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Cameron Wilson stood over another important putt Tuesday at Prairie Dunes.

Which situation was more pressure-packed: Trying to win an individual title or attempting to send his team into the NCAA semifinals?

Oh, it wasn’t even close.

In the decisive match against Illinois’ Alex Burge, the Stanford senior made a two-putt birdie on 17th hole and then sank a 3-foot par putt on 18 to win, 1 up.

No. 3 Stanford will face No. 2 Oklahoma State in the semifinals, which begin at 3:20 p.m. ET.

“Yesterday I was excited to be in that position, and of course you wanted to win desperately, but I had to put the team on my back this afternoon and it was staring me in the face,” Wilson said. “If I didn’t win it was my last few holes in college golf.

“Yesterday was gravy. That was a thrill. It can’t even compare.”

In the other quarterfinal matches, top-ranked Alabama defeated SMU, 3 and 2, while LSU topped UCLA, 4 and 1. That semifinal matchup begins at 2:30 p.m. ET.

It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for Wilson.

Men's NCAA Division I national championship scoring

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First, he prevailed in a three-hole playoff over Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans to win the NCAA individual title.

On Tuesday morning, the No. 2-ranked player in college golf squared off against Illinois’ Burge, who didn’t even have enough rounds to qualify for Golfstat’s individual ranking. Playing as an individual most of the season, this was Burge’s seventh round in the lineup.

Wilson and Burge were all square on 17 tee, then the Stanford left-hander busted a drive deep down the center. Burge found the left rough and was forced to lay up.

With only an 8-iron into the green, Wilson hit his second shot to about 25 feet, while Burge wedged to 15. The two-putt birdie gave Wilson a 1-up advantage, and his long-range par putt from 60 feet on the last was enough to hold off Burge – who missed from 20 feet for birdie – on the final green.

“It was neat to see him make another important putt when it mattered,” head coach Conrad Ray said.

Said teammate Patrick Rodgers: “If there was a player that you’d want it to come down to, it’s Cam. He’s been unbelievable for us all year.”

Ray put Rodgers and Wilson – the Nos. 1 and 2 players in college golf – in the final two spots in his lineup. Ray said there was a “reassuring feeling” about sending out those two guys last, especially since he knew the overall match against Illinois, the 2013 NCAA runner-up, would be tight.

Sure enough, Rodgers cruised to a 3-and-2 win, while Viraat Badhwar buried a long birdie putt on 17 to halve, then coolly sank a 5-footer for par on 18 to win, 1 up.

“It was set up for us to dethrone them,” said Illinois coach Mike Small, “but they just made more putts than us. That’s what you have to do in a one-day match.”

The other three quarterfinal matches weren’t nearly as taut, but Oklahoma State scored an impressive 4-0-1 win over Georgia Tech in a battle of the Nos. 2 and 4 teams in the country. Talor Gooch, Zachary Olsen, Wyndham Clark and Jordan Niebruggeeach recorded a point for the Cowboys, while Ian Davis halved his match with NCAA runner-up Schniederjans.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.