Dufner, Steele lead PGA Championship through 54 holes

By Associated PressAugust 13, 2011, 6:33 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Brendan Steele is playing in his first major championship. Jason Dufner has never won a PGA Tour event.

Hard to tell at the PGA Championship.

The no-names stayed cool on a sweltering Saturday at Atlanta Athletic Club, setting up a final round that will be short on recognizable faces but could end a major drought for the Americans. Steele shot 4-under 66 and was tied with Dufner, who joined him at 7-under 203 with a 68.

“It’s a great week for me just to be in the field,” Steele said. “To have a chance to actually win in my first major is really something special.”

Keegan Bradley, another guy playing in his first major, bounced back from a double bogey at the first hole for a 69 that left just one stroke back heading to the final round, another perfect fit for what is developing as the theme of the year’s final major.

Who are these guys anyway?

“Coming up to the final hole with the sun going down,” Bradley said, “that was kind of cool.”

Tiger Woods, defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer and several other stars are watching from home, failing to make the cut. U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who came into the week as the favorite, struggled to a 74 with his ailing wrist and won’t be a factor on Sunday.

Into the void stepped several Americans known only to the most ardent golf fans. But they’ve put the U.S. in position to capture its first major title since Phil Mickelson won the 2010 Masters. Since then, it’s an 0-for-6 drought, this country’s longest of the modern Grand Slam era.

The 34-year-old Dufner, who had not made a cut since late May, showed his moxie after a couple of three-putt bogeys knocked him out of the lead. He bounced back with a birdie at the 15th, the longest par-3 on the course, and made it two in a row by rolling in a 12-footer at the next hole.

He’s got the closest thing to a home-course advantage among the leaders – he lives about two hours away in Auburn, Ala., and is used to playing in the blistering heat and on Bermuda greens.

“Maybe I’m a little bit surprised to be in the final group at a major,” Dufner said. “But I’m not surprised to be playing well on this type of golf course.”

Steele, a 28-year-old Californian, birdied five of the first 10 holes, shaking off a double bogey at the seventh when he drove into a swale on the left, tried to putt it on and watched in dismay as the ball rolled back to his feet.

Bradley, the 25-year-old nephew of LGPA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, got off to a jittery start. He drove his first shot into a bunker, did the same with the second and wound up taking a double bogey-6. But he quickly steadied himself, dropping only one more shot with a bogey at the seventh on the way to a 204.

“That was a tough first hole, but I really calmed down after that,” he said. “It didn’t really bother me much at all. I played really well.”

There were some familiar names lurking near the top. Forty-seven-year-old Scott Verplank had two late birdies for a 69 and headed to the clubhouse at 205, his creaky body holding up in the heat. Steve Stricker, the top-ranked American in the world at age 44, was another stroke back after a 69 of his own.

Neither of the old-timers has won a major title. Maybe this will be their week.

“It feels great,” Verplank said. “I don’t feel a day older than a hundred.”

Jim Furyk was in the mix until he put two balls in the water at the 18th and took double bogey. The 73 dropped him to 209, a daunting six strokes off the lead. He was joined by the world’s top-ranked players, No. 1 Luke Donald (68) and No. 2 Lee Westwood (70).

Donald closed within a shot of the lead until a brutal finish. He drove into a bunker at the 18th and had no choice but to blast out into the fairway. Then, going at the flag a little too aggressively, he dunked his third shot in the water and wound up taking double bogey.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was at 208 after a 66, trying to win a second major title before the year is done.

“The course is just very penalizing,” the South African said. “I just played a little bit more – I want to say conservative maybe – but more clever. A few of the holes that were inviting me the first two rounds, I took with a bit more caution.”

David Toms, who won the PGA the last time it came to Atlanta in 2001, went even lower with a 65 and also was five shots back. He was sparked by a long eagle putt at the 12th, and followed with birdies at 13 and 14. He made another birdie at the tough closing hole after a 5-iron from 190 yards barely cleared the water.

“I thought I got it in there pretty tight,” Toms said. “But obviously, the way the crowd oohed and aahed up there, I was glad to get over the water.”

He won his only major title with a gutsy call at that same hole in 2001. Clinging to a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson, Toms chose to lay up short of the water with his second shot. He knocked a wedge 12 feet from the hole and made the par putt to hold off Lefty.

Toms started feeling good vibes as he walked up to the 15th, where there’s a plaque marking his most memorable shot from 2001 – a hole-in-one.

“People were saying stuff in the crowd about doing it again, that kind of thing, and you flash black to this time, this week, 10 years ago,” he said. “A lot of memories for sure. The golf course is different. The golf course if much more demanding, so I have to play extremely well.”

Mickelson shot 69 but still had a lot of work to do, going to Sunday seven strokes off the lead.

McIlroy went the wrong way on Moving Day, but he did catch a break at the par-3 17th. His tee shot landed on a rock wall along the bunker, bounced at least 50 feet in the air and came down on the green. He smiled and made par.

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.



The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

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

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.