Kupcho's collapse hands Vaughn NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2017, 1:43 am

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – Jennifer Kupcho leaned down to swat away a bug over her ball and wondered where the wind had gone.

With a two-shot lead in the NCAA Women’s Championship, all the Wake Forest sophomore needed to do Monday afternoon was escape the 17th hole and head to the par-5 finisher.

Standing over the ball, with 127 yards to the flag, she hoped that her pitching wedge was enough club.

“I hit it perfect,” she said. “It looked so good, right at it.”

Until it hit short, on the bank.

Until it rolled back into the pond.

Until she pitched on and three-putted for a triple bogey.

Until her two-shot lead turned into a one-shot deficit, which she wasn’t able to overcome on the final hole when her drive sailed right, near the hazard, and she couldn’t go for the green. Her closing par left her one shot behind Arizona State senior Monica Vaughn, who was finishing on the front nine at Rich Harvest Farms and remained oblivious to the disaster on the other side of the property.

“I had no idea,” said Vaughn, who shot 1-over 217 to capture the NCAA individual title. “I got no feeling that I might be the champion.”

As she walked to the scoring tent, Vaughn was mobbed by her teammates and soaked in a water bath, never mind the 55-degree weather.

NCAA Division I National Championships: Articles and videos

As much as the day might be remembered for Kupcho’s collapse, Vaughn, ranked No. 18 in the country, was not a surprise winner.

Throw out a first-round 84 at the Pac-12 Championship, and she has been one of the hottest players in college golf. She had four top-3 finishes in her last five starts, including a victory at regionals.

It didn’t even hit her that Monday might be her last day as a Sun Devil until head coach Missy Farr-Kaye addressed the team in the morning.

“We all started crying,” Vaughn said. “But I was able to pull it together. It’s an amazing feeling.”

And yet it still was an awkward end to what was a blustery final round of stroke play, not least because Vaughn finished her round on the other side. The top two players in college golf this season, Kupcho and Duke’s Leona Maguire, both wiped away tears as they walked toward the clubhouse.

In a tight race for the season-ending Annika Award as the nation’s top player, Kupcho and Maguire stood next to each other at the trophy presentation, connected by their disappointment and their tie for second.

“It’s easy to focus on the last few holes,” Maguire said of Kupcho, “but it’s days like today that make the wins even sweeter.”

How would Wake Forest coach Dianne Dailey console her talented star? Not even she was sure the best approach, and she has 29 years of experience.

“I know it’s terribly disappointing,” Dailey said, “but she’s had such success and she will continue to have success.”

Wake Forest desperately could have used an individual title after a turbulent spring.

After all, this was supposed to be the year that the Demon Deacons finally won a national title for their longtime coach, but they didn’t even advance to nationals.

They battled injuries all season. Their two hotshot freshmen, Sierra Brooks and Mathilda, left school in the spring. In order to field a team for the ACC Championship, Dailey called up a player on the school’s club team.

Even Kupcho had her own share of drama, after she suffered a concussion during a freak accident and was shaken up for more than a month. She recovered to end the season with a flourish, finishing second at ACCs and winning regionals for her third title.

Here at NCAAs, Kupcho was unburdened, able to play freely and concentrate on her own game. She shot 74 in the most difficult conditions Friday, carded a 70 on Sunday to take a one-shot lead, and then built a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the final round.

“She looked so comfortable out there,” Dailey said.

And then it all came undone, first with a bogey on 14 and then the shocking mistake on 17.

The emotions were still so raw when she was asked what she would take from the day.

At last, a smile.

“Take the extra club over water, I guess.”

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: