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. 

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.