Afghan golf team makes Asian Games debut

By Associated PressNovember 20, 2010, 8:22 pm

GUANGZHOU, China – For Hashmatullah Sarwaree and Ali Ahmad Fazel, hazards aren’t a major concern on the golf course. After all, their club in Kabul was cleared of land mines after the fall of the Taliban regime.

That’s probably why scores that were more than 130 strokes behind the winners in the four-round Asian Games competition weren’t a major concern for the pair from Afghanistan, who finished third-to-last and last on the lush Dragon Lake Golf Course outside of Guangzhou on Saturday.

For 10 hours a day, pretty much every day, Sarwaree drives a taxi on the chaotic streets of Kabul.

That’s only his job, though. His heart belongs to golf.

“I just like golf,” he told The Associated Press. “I want to do it all the time.”

Golf in Afghanistan is a different brand than most people are used to. First off, the greens are made of sand and oil, which actually makes them brown but keeps them from blowing away. And there’s only one course in the whole country.

“It’s totally different here,” Sarwaree said after finishing his fourth round at Guangzhou in his country’s first try at golf in the Asian Games, a regional version of the Olympics that is held once every four years. “It’s so big, and there’s grass!”

Unaccustomed to teeing off on anything but sand or gravel, Sarwaree and Fazel finished at the bottom of the rankings – Sarwaree was 73rd out of 75 men at 116 over. Fazel was last, with a 179-over par total of 467.

The winner, South Korea’s Kim Meen-whee, finished with a 15-under par 273 total, and the silver medalist, Miguel Luis Tabuena of the Philippines, shot 6-under par.

Fazel, a student, was undaunted.

“I’m satisfied with what I did,” he said, smiling broadly. “I want to be a professional golfer someday. I just want to work hard.”

Despite the glaring lack of proper training facilities, golfing in the warzone that is Afghanistan is not as much of a hardship as one might think, said national coach Mohammad Juma Herwati.

He said the only course is at the Kabul Golf Club, a 9-hole facility built about 40 years ago by the Afghan government that is a 20-minute drive from the center of town. Because Kabul is relatively safe compared with some other parts of the war-torn country, the club is fairly active and usually open.

The golf course is something of a symbol of Afghanistan’s resilience.

It was cleared of land mines several years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, and has been in business since.

“I play every Friday,” Herwati said. “I’ve been playing for years.”

Herwati, who learned the game in Iran and has a 4.5 handicap, said that the number of Afghan golfers is steadily growing, although he acknowledged that the people who have the time, money or interest in a nation that has a lot of other things on its mind remains tiny in the overall scheme of things.

Still, he said, Afghanistan loves sports.

“People are very enthusiastic about this game,” he said. “We have actually started down the right path. We are doing our best.”

Afghanistan has 67 athletes competing in 13 sports at the Asian Games, and has won one silver and one bronze, both in the martial art of taekwondo. Its basketball team was knocked out in the preliminary rounds earlier this week. The men’s cricket team is in with a chance of a minor medal.

Herwati said that he tries not to think too much about the lack of funds and support that his team has compared with Asian sports powerhouses like China or South Korea. Instead, he says he wants to focus on what can be done on a day-to-day basis to improve the lot of Afghan golfers.

Progress is being made.

Sarwaree, for example, said he gets a $200 a month stipend from the government for golfing. That is roughly equal to the amount he makes driving his taxi.

“We want to do something constructive,” Herwati said. “We all have to work hard. We started from zero and have moved ahead.”

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals 
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals (Click here to watch live)

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity, MAXimumChances.org, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.