Duke Wins Hooters Match Play Title
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The top-seeded Duke women's golf team pulled out a dramatic 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded Georgia on Tuesday in the finals of the 2003 Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship at the Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
'It is match play and you never know what will happen,' said Duke Head Coach Dan Brooks. 'Georgia came into the match playing really well, but we stayed patient and came out on top at the end.'
The reigning U.S. Women's Amateur Champion, Virada Nirapathpongporn, birdied the final hole and then won on the first playoff hole to defeat Kelly Froelich, 1-up, to lead the Blue Devils to the victory. A senior from Bangkok, Thailand, Nirapathpongporn led Froelich, 2-up, through three holes, but Froelich came back to take the lead on the 10th hole.
Nirapathpongporn, who started the day off on hole 17, went down one on holes 14 and 15, before birding the 16th hole to send it in a playoff. On the par-5 16th, Nirapathpongporn had a great drive and then hit a 3-wood on to the green. She missed an eagle putt, but was able to sink the birdie to even the match.
'I really wanted to win the match today and I was very determined,' said Nirapathpongporn. 'Whatever way I had to win the match I was going to do it. On hole 16, I knew I needed a birdie and I was able to put together a great drive and 3-wood, which allowed me to have a good chance at an eagle.'
It came down to the par-3 17th for the playoff. Both golfers hit their tee shots into the hazard, but Nirapathpongporn was able to come back from 88 yards and stuck a wedge to about three feet and made bogey. Froelich couldn't make a 12-foot putt for bogey to give Nirapathpongporn the victory. In four matches in the competition, Nirapathpongporn won three and halved one other match.
'Going into the playoff hole, I knew that we needed to win this match for us to win the championship,' said Nirapathpongporn.
Fellow senior Leigh Anne Hardin dominated Natalia Nicholls over the final seven holes winning 5 & 4. Hardin, from Martinsville, Ind., trailed 1-up early, but from holes nine through 15 was able to go up by five. Also, collecting a victory on the day was freshman Anna Grzebien, which knocked off Lisa Tyler, 2-up. A product of Narragansett, R.I., Grzebien trailed for only one hole in the match and finished the championship winning her final three matches over Ohio State, UCLA and Georgia.
'Leigh Anne played great and she was very solid all week,' said Brooks. 'Anna came back yesterday to win her match and was able to control her match for most of the day today. They both came through with key victories today.'
Georgia's Allison Martin took an early lead and Blue Devil sophomore Liz Janangelo couldn't come back falling 3 & 2, while freshman Brittany Lang lost 2-up to Whitney Wade.
Duke will take the rest of the fall off before opening the spring season on Feb. 22-24 at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Blue Devils finished the fall season winning all five tournaments they played in for the first time in school history.
'It is nice to win and it gives you something to believe in,' said Brooks. 'When we come back in the spring, we will be a good team that is trying to get better. This sends you into the break still excited about golf and that is a good thing.'
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x