USC-Aiken Wins Div II Championship
DELAND, Fla. -- It will be hard to convince USC Aiken head golf coach Michael Carlisle that dreams dont really come true in the city that Mickey Mouse built after the Pacers pulled away down the stretch to capture the 42nd NCAA Division II Mens Golf National Championship. USCA finished at +39 for the 72-hole tournament, nine shots better than CSU Chico and 10 strokes in front on Barry University, giving the school its first National Championship of any kind.
The 72-hole event was contested at the 6,966 yard, par 72 Victoria Hills Golf Club in Deland, Fla. This years tournament was held in conjunction with the first-ever NCAA Division II Sports Festival throughout the greater Orlando area.
This has been 14 years coming, said Carlisle, the five-time Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year. We feel like we probably should have won it two or three times before this, but this is a hard goal to achieve and Im just so happy for our players and those who came down here to support us.
Competing in the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament for the 10th time in their 13th years as a member of the NCAA, USC Aiken had finished runner-up three times in the previous eight years (1995, 96, 99).
The Pacers opened played on Wednesday with a 16-over-par 304 and found themselves tied for seventh and 13 shots off the pace. But a strong day two showing of 297 vaulted the team into third place. In Fridays third round, Scott Brown birdied the final three holes and Brown, Dane Burkhart, and James McGhee each birdied 18 as the Pacers found themselves one stroke up on Barry and two ahead of CSU Chico, and the leader heading into Saturdays final round.
Battling raining conditions throughout most of the round, the Pacers proved they could mud when called upon, firing the best round of the day with a 10-over-par 298. CSU Chico shot a 305 and Barry a 307. One impressive note to the victory regarding the weather is that they did it in all conditions, the windy, humid, afternoon heat of Central Florida, the cooler morning round with dew on the course, and lastly the rainy conditions of Saturday.
We were very fortunate today, you could play the same situation tomorrow and another team would win, said Carlisle. There are a lot of good, quality teams in the tournament and to be able to win this tournament against such good teams just makes it all that much better.
CSU Chico and Barry were not as fortunate as the Pacers. Despite a young USCA team battling the junior and senior laidened teams of their foes, it was not the Pacers folding over the final nine holes. USCA held just a three shot lead as the final pairings teed off on 14. But the Pacers were solid down the stretch and their opponents were not.
Brown (North Augusta, S.C.) led the Pacers on Saturday with a final round of one-over-par 73 to finish at 295, or seven-over-par, to tie for fourth. Three birdies and four bogeys on the front side had the sophomore making the turn at one-over-par. After bogeying the par three 12th, Brown birdied the par four 17th to shoot even-par 36 on the back.
Burkhart (Aiken, S.C.) also shot a 73 on Saturday to finish with a 296, or eight-over-par, for the tournament and tie with teammate Clint Smith for sixth place. Burkhart, also a sophomore, recorded one birdie and two bogeys on the front while shooting even-par 36 on the back side.
Smith (High Point, N.C.) started slow with a double bogey on one and back-to-back bogeys on six and seven to move to three-over-par entering the ninth. He birdied nine, bogeyed 10, and then rattled off seven-straight pars until his birdie on 18 in front of a huge gallery of onlookers capped his three-over-par 75.
McGhee (Edinburgh, Scotland) and senior Bryan Sangid (Jefferson City, Tenn.) each carded final round 77s. McGhee finished with a 308 to tie for 44th, while Sangid closed out his collegiate career with a 312, tying for 62nd in the 102-player field.
CSU Stanislaus (+58) finished a distant fourth followed by Barton (+62) in fifth and West Florida (+64) in sixth.
J.J. Jakovac of CSU Chico carded a final round 73 to finish with a 72-hole total of one-under-par 287 to win the individual title. Jakovac, the individual winner in 2002, becomes just the third player in Division II history to win two individual national championships.
Brown, Burkhart, and Smith were each presented with individual trophies for having finished in the top 10 in the individual standings.
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”
You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios
NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:
Race to the CME Globe
Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.
Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.
The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.
Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.
So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.
Rolex Player of the Year
The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.
Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.
Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.
Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.
It’s simple math.
The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.
1st - 30 points
2nd – 12 points
3rd – 9 points
4th – 7 points
5th – 6 points
6th – 5 points
7rd – 4 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.
Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.
Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.
At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.
Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''