Amateur Lewis sets record, ties Bjorn for Open Championship lead.

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2011, 11:17 am

SANDWICH, England – His parents named him after Tom Watson, so Tom Lewis was thrilled when the pairings for the British Open came out.

Tom and Tom were in the same group.

It can’t get much better than that, right?

Think again.

With the five-time Open champion watching every swing, Lewis became the first amateur in 35 years to lead a round at a major. The 20-year-old settled his nerves with one up-and-down after another on the front side Thursday, then ripped off four straight birdies down the stretch to match Thomas Bjorn with a 5-under 65.

When Lewis stepped to the first tee at Royal St. George’s, his main concern was not to embarrass himself in front of Watson. By the end, Watson was marveling at how much poise the youngster showed in his first major championship.

He’s the first amateur to lead the Open since 1968, the first to lead any major since Mike Reid at the U.S. Open in 1976.

“We certainly have a new young breed out here, don’t we?” marveled Watson, who needed seven more shots than Lewis to get around the course. “I just had to smile inside watching him play. I didn’t play particularly well myself, but I certainly was impressed by the way he played.”

Watson has been through this before. Two years ago, he was paired at the Open with Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who tied for 13th at Turnberry as a 16-year-old amateur (a feat that was overshadowed, of course, by Watson nearly becoming the oldest major champion in history).

Now, along comes Lewis, who dropped out of school when he was 16 to concentrate on a full-time golf career. Clearly, he has big plans for the future, even though he won’t officially turn pro until September after the Walker Cup.

He’s ready to take on Rory McIlroy, only two years older but already a major champion. He’d like to surpass Nick Faldo, who hails from the same town north of London and captured six of golf’s biggest events.

“I would love to win seven because I’m from the same golf club as him and it would be great to go down as the best player from the club,” Lewis said, before hastening to add, “but I’ve got a long way to go.”

He’s already knocked Tiger Woods from the record book. The 14-time major champion was one of three players who held the British Open scoring record for amateurs with a 66.

Lewis was clearly destined for this path. His father, Brian Lewis, played a few years on the European Tour and always considered Watson his favorite player. When Lewis had a son, there was little doubt he would be named for the five-time Open champion.

(And when the Lewis’ had another son, he was named Jack, as in Nicklaus.)

Young Tom is dyslexic, so school was a struggle. He jumped at the chance to take a different path, to devote his life to golf at a time when most kids are focused on dating and homework. That decision paid off when he won the British Boys Championship two years ago – at Royal St. George’s, no less.

Maybe that’s why he looked so comfortable making his way around the place. More than anyone with an afternoon tee time, he took advantage when the wind died down and left the course ripe for the taking.

Amazingly, the youngster needed only eight putts to get through the first eight holes. Some of that was by design – birdies at the 3rd, 7th and 8th – but the rest were saves after he missed the green. He kept bailing himself out with a delicate touch, chipping up next to the flag and sinking the putts.

Bogeys at the 11th and 13th could have stymied his momentum, but Lewis pulled himself together.

He reached the front edge of the par-5 14th in two, setting up a two-putt birdie. At the 15th, he stuck a 6-iron to 8 feet and rolled in another. The par-3 16th produced a third straight birdie when a 7-iron off the tee curled up a half-dozen feet from the hole. Finally, he knocked a 20-footer straight in the middle of the cup at 17 to make it four in a row.

Just like that, he had pulled even with Bjorn.

The kid was leading the Open.

“How about that?” Watson said. “He could be my grandson.”

Lewis stepped up to the final hole and ripped his tee shot right down the middle of the fairway. He pushed his approach right of the flag, the ball sliding off the side of the green. His head dropped, then he made perhaps his biggest blunder of the day.

Instead of letting Watson take the lead on their walk toward the grandstands, giving the fans a chance to acknowledge the popular champion, Lewis hustled up to the green ahead of him.

“I was in the zone,” Lewis said. “I didn’t really know what I was doing. I walked up to the green, and I didn’t realize I probably should have waited for Tom, and I felt very bad. But I was just mostly concentrating on making that up-and-down and making sure I was at the top of the leaderboard.”

One more exquisite chip left him about 2 feet from the cup, and he rapped that one in for a par that ensured, for one night at least, he was the one everyone but Bjorn was chasing.

British Open leader.

It has a nice ring to it.

“Obviously, it’s one day,” Lewis said. “I’m sure I’m not going to shoot four 65s. But if I did, I will be winning.”

That one got a hearty chuckle. Realistically, Lewis knows his chances of claiming the claret jug are still slim, at best. He’s mainly concerned with making the cut Friday and finishing with the lowest score among the five amateurs.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have big goals for the not-so-distant future. Lewis looks forward to dueling with McIlroy on a regular basis for years to come.

For now, he’ll settle for a six-shot edge on the U.S. Open champion going to the second round.

“It’ll be tough to hold him off,” Lewis said. “But that’s what we play golf for, the challenge. Hopefully I can play with him sometime in my career or this year. That would be excellent.”

Rory and Tom.

That has a nice ring to it, too.

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Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.

Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?

The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.

“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.

Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.

“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”

Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.

“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”

After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.

And the Wildcats better rest up.

Alabama looks unstoppable.

“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”

Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.

After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.

They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.

Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.

“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”

They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.

“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”

That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.

The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.

“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.

It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”

Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.

They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.

Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.

“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”

Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.

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Pairings, tee times set for championship match

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 1:02 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.

“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”

Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.

Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.

Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.

Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)

3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)

3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)

3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)

3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)

4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)

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Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”

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

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 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 advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested 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 finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)