On fire: Westwood defends Sun City title

By Associated PressDecember 4, 2011, 2:58 pm

SUN CITY, South Africa – Lee Westwood finished with two bogeys and a 1-over 73 but it was still enough to retain his title by two strokes at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday.

The No. 3-ranked Westwood ended with a 15-under 273 total to stay clear of Robert Karlsson in second, despite a final-round charge from the Swedish player that cut Westwood’s commanding seven-shot overnight lead in South Africa.

Westwood made just two birdies on the final day and dropped three strokes over the back nine, but his dominant performance on Saturday - when he shot a course-record 62 - set up victory and only the second back-to-back win at Sun City over the last decade.

A smiling Westwood threw his ball into the galleries on No. 18 after beating out Karlsson (68), who made seven birdies but dropped shots at Nos. 1, 8 and 16 at the Gary Player Country Club and ultimately couldn’t overcome Westwood’s hefty advantage.

“Today wasn’t going to be easy, going out with such a big lead,” Westwood said. “When you’ve got a big lead you’re never sure how to play. I tried to just break it down into fairways and greens. That wasn’t possible all the time but I didn’t make any silly mistakes out there.”

American Jason Dufner (69) tied for third with Graeme McDowell (70) on 11-under, while top-ranked Luke Donald was 10 shots off the pace in seventh, closing with a level-par 72 on his return from a five-week layoff after winning the PGA Tour money list.

South Korea’s Kyung-tae Kim was alone in fifth on 8 under, with Masters champion Charl Schwartzel two shots behind him in sixth.

Westwood was the only player in the top seven of the 12-man field to be over par on Sunday after bogeys at Nos. 12, 17 and 18, but none of the chasers could take advantage of the Englishman’s subdued finish, where he was in control throughout.

“I was looking what everybody was doing all the way round,” he said. “I was not too concerned with the odd bogey because the course was playing tough. You have to play it sensibly, it set up like a major championship golf course.”

McDowell made an early run with five birdies going out. But the Northern Irishman also slipped up with drops at Nos. 5, 7 and 16 - and a double-bogey at No. 15 - to fade away.

Nedbank Challenge rookie Dufner birdied three of his first five holes and holed his approach for an eagle two at No. 11. But Dufner had back-to-back bogies to finish his front nine and a double on No. 15 where he matched McDowell’s slip at the par-4.

Karlsson had a glimpse of a dramatic turnaround when he holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to go 13-under, and playing partner Westwood pulled his 4-footer to bogey the par-4 and slip to 16 under and three ahead.

But even a bogey finish from Westwood and a 39 coming home was enough for a second Nedbank Challenge title. He collected $1.25 million and followed Jim Furyk, who was the last man to defend his Sun City title in 2006.

Donald had one birdie and a bogey and parred 16 holes to finish 5-under ahead of a big weekend for the top-ranked Englishman, when he aims to become the first player to top the money lists on both the U.S and European tours in the same season.

Donald now heads to the season-ending Dubai World Championship for a showdown with Rory McIlroy for the European money title.

“I would have liked to have played a little better (at Sun City) but it was what I was kind of expecting,” Donald said. “I knew I would be a little bit rusty and that was exactly why I wanted to come here.

“I knew I was going to get four solid rounds in, work on my game, and feel ready for Dubai.”

Behind Donald, No. 4-ranked Martin Kaymer crashed to a final-round 76 to drop to 4-under for the tournament. England’s Simon Dyson (72) was ninth on 1-under and Denmark’s Anders Hansen was 10th on even par.

Italian Francesco Molinari lifted himself off last place with a 73 as British Open champion Darren Clarke slipped to the bottom of the field with a 6-over 78 and 9-over par for the tournament.

 

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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.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

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