Alabama clings to 2-stroke lead in women's NCAAs

By Associated PressMay 25, 2012, 12:47 am

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Alabama's double-digit lead dwindled on the back nine, and the Crimson Tide finished with a two-stroke lead over Southern California on Thursday after the third round of the NCAA Division I women's championship.

Oklahoma's Chirapat Jao-Javanil shot a 2-under 70 for a share of the individual lead with Arizona State's Giulia Molinaro at 4-under 212. Molinaro had a 72 on a day where only three players shot under par.

The Crimson Tide entered the third round with an 11-stroke lead, and that grew to 15 strokes with Alabama's No. 5 seeded player, Courtney McKim, in the fairway on No. 17. With hard greens, stiff wind and tough pin placements at Vanderbilt Legends Club's North Course, Alabama's top four players combined for three double bogeys and nine bogeys on the back nine.

Alabama coach Mic Potter, a sentimental favorite to win his first national title, said wind was a major factor drying out the greens. It didn't help Brooke Pancake, the individual leader after the second round, when she hit into the water on No. 16. Teammates Jennifer Kirby and Hannah Collier also hit into the water on the hole.

''We had three really good players knock the ball in the water, and I have no answer,'' Potter said. ''You can't hit it here, and we hit it.''

Alabama finished the round at 18-over 306 and had a 13-over 877 total. Southern California shot a 6-over 294. Purdue (295), South Carolina (300) and Virginia (301) were tied at 883.

Potter said the best part is Alabama still has a lead going into the final round, something he would've taken coming into the tournament.

''I still would like to have an 11-shot lead, or a 20,'' he said. ''But yeah, I mean nothing to do but go play well now. If you don't, teams right behind us are really good, and they're not going to lay down or let us play mediocre. We've got to take control and worry about ourselves and do what we can to control our destiny.''

Southern Cal started the round at 9 over and 14 strokes behind Alabama. The Trojans, who won national titles in 2003 and 2008, got the benefit of teeing off on No. 10 and finished on the front nine, which has played the easiest this week. They capped their round with four birdies on the par-5 ninth, finishing as Alabama managed only one birdie on the par-5 18th a few yards away.

Trojans coach Andrea Gaston didn't know how much ground her team had made up until she talked with reporters. She said her team tried to stay patient and didn't look at scores through the round.

''Having such a big lead that Alabama had we knew we had to make up some ground,'' Gaston said. ''I didn't think we'd make up as much. Thankfully, we hung in there. One of the things in a national championship you're going to have one kind of bad day. You just have to minimize the mistakes and hope it doesn't go too bad. ... Given the conditions today, I feel like we played a great round as difficult as it played.''

Similar conditions are expected Friday, and Gaston said that means any team getting to finish on the front nine could have a chance to make a run similar to Southern Cal's.

''It's kind of up for grabs really,'' Gaston said.

The Crimson Tide's round turned worse when Pancake, a senior and a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team, lost her lead with consecutive double bogeys. She was 7 under with a three-stroke lead after a birdie on No. 11. But she four-putted from 25 feet on the par-4 15th, then hit into the water left of the green on the par-3 16th.

She finished with a 75 to drop into a tie for third at 3 under.

''I made two pretty careless mistakes,'' Pancake said. ''Definitely killed me. I guess I can't ponder on those and let it change my mind set for tomorrow. I have two good rounds that have put me in the position I'm in. Hopefully, I can get another one tomorrow and finish off well.''

Pancake's finish left Jao-Javanil tied with Molinaro atop the leaderboard with both thinking they simply put themselves in good position for the final round. Jao-Javanil took advantage of smoother greens and less wind teeing off in the morning.

''I think I hit it pretty close today and I made a few putts and a lot of pars, so I think that really helped,'' said Jao-Javanil, who had four birdies and two bogeys.

Molinaro had two birdies and a double bogey, and the Arizona State senior born in Italy said she didn't think she could have scored any better than she did in the conditions. She spoke to reporters when she thought she was just behind Pancake in the standings.

''I don't have the pressure of being the leader,'' Molinaro said. ''Still do have pressure, but not as much.''

Just ask Alabama how quickly that can change.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match-play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the latter when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and [the championship] needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. The Wildcats were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed only to be inside the top eight after 72 holes to advance to the match-play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match-play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a hell of a ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, gnarly rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore missed her birdie putt and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite a while but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot - that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.