Calcavecchia leaves the laughing in final PGA Tour event
As he approaches the end of his days as a full-time member of the PGA Tour – this week’s Memorial Tournament will be the last time he tees it up this year before joining the Champions Tour in earnest – it’s enough to make even the most cynical, sarcastic and brutally honest veteran grow wistful.
“I should have kept myself in better shape, which is still the case. I should have won more tournaments. I should have practiced harder – a lot of should haves,” he said Tuesday, when asked whether he had any regrets. “On the other hand, I had a great time. I’m incredibly lucky. I stop to think about all the things that I’ve been blessed with, and I just had a blast.”
No one could ever dispute that. In addition to winning events around the world, Calc – what everyone calls him – won a lot of fans. He, along with his followers, usually had a good time.
Laughter followed him wherever he went, walking along the long, thin line of long, thin golfers on the range, or whenever he was asked a question. Blunt, emotional and demonstrative, no one ever accused him of being a workout fanatic or being bland like so many of his peers.
“He’s fun,” Jim Furyk said. “Obviously, he’s got a sarcastic side to him. He’s really well liked out here. I’ll definitely miss him but obviously he’s excited about – I don’t know if he’s excited about turning 50 – but he’s excited about playing the Champions Tour.”
The over-50 league beckons. Calc, who hits the big 5-0 on June 12, will make his debut at the Champions stop in Endicott, N.Y., late this month.
He welcomes the new circuit and the old friends. And the new challenges.
“It’s a great change of pace,” he said. “New courses, new towns, new holes to screw up. I’m tried of screwing up the same holes every year.”
The Memorial will be his 737th PGA Tour event. He’s won 13 times and made 516 cuts while cashing almost $24 million in checks. Those stats speak to his longevity, his talent and his competitiveness.
“Well, the amount of money I’ve made, that’s all gone, so that doesn’t blow me away at all,” he cracked. “Yeah, 700-some odd tournaments I’ve played in, that’s a lot. That’s a large number. To have made (that many) cuts, that’s a lot too. It seems like I missed more cuts than that. But I did have a stretch there in my prime where I’d miss three or four a year out of 25. So it kind of added up.”
Clearly he has reflected on what has been a solid career.
“It’s gone by fast,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like I’ve played that much. But I still get excited about waking up on Thursday mornings and getting ready to play in a tournament.”
He just doesn’t get as excited. He concedes that he still enjoys himself but that it has been less fun the last couple of years. Knee and foot problems have slowed him. He won his last tournament (the Pods Championship) and almost $3 million in 2007; since then, he has collected around half that much.
There is no question what the highlight moment was for Calc. In 1989 at Troon, he defeated Wayne Grady and Greg Norman in a playoff, sealing the British Open with a fearless 5-iron to 7 feet on the fourth and final hole. It was his only major win.
If he were to somehow pull off some magic and win the Memorial, he would become only the third Tour player to win events in four decades, joining Raymond Floyd and Sam Snead.
To do that, he’ll have to putt a lot better than he has. And to putt better, he’ll have to handle the new, thick-wrapped grip on his putter.
“My hands barely fit it,” he said. “We’ll see what happens Thursday. The grip’s called ‘The Fatso,’ by the way, so I thought it was aptly named.”
There’s no question that he’s looking forward to stepping on the practice tee at a Champions Tour event and seeing familiar faces – Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Mark O’Meara, Joey Sindelar. He’s grown tired of having to catch a name off a golf bag to figure out who the newest hotshot is hitting those long drives next to him.
Times have changed. Calc hasn’t.
“(The PGA Tour) is definitely more of a big business, a serious business,” he said. “When I was young, we stayed out later. We went out and didn’t worry about it too much. Now the kids work out and are going to the gym and whatnot. … Now it’s just a bit stiffer.”
Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
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.
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.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
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)
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
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.
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.”
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
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.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)