NCAA men: Who's in, who's out after regionals

By Ryan LavnerMay 17, 2017, 6:28 pm

The NCAA Division I men’s regionals wrapped up Wednesday at six sites around the country. The low five teams and individual in each regional after 54 holes advanced to the May 27-31 NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

Here are the final results from the West Lafayette (Ind.), Baton Rouge (La.), College Grove (Tenn.), Austin (Texas), Stanford (Calif.) and Sammamish (Wash.) regionals:

West Lafayette Regional, at Kampen Golf Course in West Lafayette, Ind.:

Winner: UNLV (+8)

Runner-up: Auburn (+11)

Rest of the top 5: llinois (+14), New Mexico (+16), Purdue (+18)

Better luck next year: Augusta (+21), St. Mary's (+21), Florida (+27), South Carolina (+31)

Medalists: Andrej Bevins, New Mexico; Nick Hardy, Illinois (-3)

Individual advancing: Trent Wallace, Illinois State (E)

Skinny: Brutal conditions greeted players trying to lock up one of the five spots. Perennial NCAA contender Illinois, which began the day five shots out of the all-important fifth spot, rallied to grab the third spot. Even with a horrible final round, leader New Mexico only fell to fourth. The biggest story, however, was top seed Florida tanking during the final round. The Gators, a five-time winner this season, one of the most talented teams in the country, shot 24 over in the final round – the worst score of the day, by two – and dropped from third to eighth, a stunning end to a great season. 

Austin Regional, at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas:

Winner: Oklahoma State (-13)

Runner-up: Texas (-11)

Rest of the top 5: Iowa State (-7), Ole Miss (+2), Arizona State (+7)

Better luck next year: Wake Forest (+11), N.C. State (+12)

Medalist: Nick Voke, Iowa State (-14)

Individual advancing: Will Zalatoris, Wake Forest (-3)

Skinny: A low final round helped push the Cowboys past their rivals on the Longhorns’ home course. Tenth-ranked Wake Forest well short of the fifth spot, but it was 50th-ranked Iowa State that was the star of the week. In the final round, senior Nick Voke fired a bogey-free 61, the biggest contributor to the Cyclones’ 21 under final round to finish third. N.C. State, trying to send off retiring coach Richard Sykes with another finals appearance, finished seventh.  

College Grove Regional, at The Grove Club in College Grove, Tenn.:

Winner: UCF (-1)

Runner-up: Vanderbilt (E)

Rest of the top 5: Kennesaw State (+1), Clemson (+1), Lipscomb (+5)

Better luck next year: Troy (+13), Middle Tennessee State (+13), Texas Tech (+19), Georgia (+23)

Medalist: Dawson Armstrong, Lipscomb (-8)

Individual advancing: Cam Norman, Troy (-3)

Skinny: This regional had the most chaos, with only two of the top five seeds advancing, and yet there wasn’t any stress on the final day. No team moved inside or outside the bubble. Top seed and NCAA favorite Vanderbilt had a rough final round, allowing UCF, led by Manuel Elvira and Kyler Tate, to win the regional. Taking medalist honors was Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong, setting up a reunion of sorts. Two years ago, he won the Western Amateur, one of the most prestigious titles in amateur golf … at Rich Harvest Farms. 

Baton Rouge Regional, at The University Club in Baton Rouge, La.:

Winner: LSU (+2)

Runner-up: Duke (+10)

Rest of the top 5: Oregon (+15), Virginia (+17), Jacksonville (+19)

Better luck next year: Northwestesrn (+19), Kentucky (+20)

Medalist: Sam Burns, LSU (-4)

Individual advancing: Mason Overstreet, Arkansas (+2)

Skinny: The top four seeds advanced as expected, but it was Jacksonville that had the most to celebrate. The Dolphins shot the best score of the final round (1 over) and then defeated Northwestern on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff using the play-five, count-four format for the final spot. On the individual side, it was a race between Haskins favorites Wyndham Clark of Oregon and LSU’s Sam Burns, who were competing against each other in the same tournament for the first time this season. Playing on his home course, Burns came home in 41 but still won by one. To some voters, that might be viewed as a win, even if Burns now holds the season-title edge, 4-3. 


Sammamish Regional, at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, Wash.:

Winner: Southern Cal (-3)

Runner-up: Kent State (+3)

Rest of the top 5: Florida State (+10), Alabama (+10), Penn State (+11)

Better luck next year: Texas A&M (+15), Washington (+17)

Medalist: Cole Miller, Penn State (-7)

Individual advancing: Chandler Phillips, Texas A&M (-2)

Skinny: No surprise, the Trojans showed why they are one of the favorites for the NCAA title with an impressive performance at regionals. Alabama had no trouble despite the long trip out west, while Penn State, behind medalist Miller, who earned his fifth title of the season, took advantage of a poor second round by Texas A&M to earn the fifth and final spot. 

Stanford Regional, at Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif.:

Winner: Stanford and Baylor (-17)

Rest of the top 5: Pepperdine (-5), Oklahoma (-3), North Carolina (+3)

Better luck next year: Georgia Tech (+4), North Florida (+5), BYU (+12)

Medalist: Brad Dalke, Oklahoma (-12)

Individual advancing: Travis Trace, North Florida (-2)

Skinny: An impressive showing by Baylor, to tie the Cardinal on their home course. The Bears had three finishers inside the top 7, led by freshman Cooper Dossey. North Carolina’s 3-under final round was enough to climb three spots and earn the fifth and final spot, by one shot over Georgia Tech, which counted two late bogeys. There was an opportunity for some history Wednesday, with Stanford’s Maverick McNealy tied for the individual lead with two holes to play. He’s been stuck for several months on 11 career titles, tied with Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers for the most all time, but he double-bogeyed the last two holes to finish third. Dalke, the U.S. Amateur runner-up, shot a career-best, three-round total of 12 under to earn medalist honors. 

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''