Garcia takes three-shot lead into Sunday at WGC

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2014, 9:20 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Sergio Garcia was in the trees left of the 18th fairway, looking through a gap in the branches to find a way out. Ahead of him was Rory McIlroy, giving his 35-foot birdie putt a little body English before it fell for birdie.

Garcia never lost command of the Bridgestone Invitational on Saturday, even after a storm delay of just over three hours. He started with a three-shot lead, stretched it to six shots at one point and closed with three good pars for a 3-under 67, three shots ahead of McIlroy.

The Spaniard just lost a small measure of comfort.

McIlroy, coming off a wire-to-wire win in the British Open, might be the last player anyone wants to see right behind.

''I've got to keep doing the same thing, make sure that I have good confidence in myself, that I play nicely, and then see what happens,'' Garcia said. ''If Rory comes out, or whoever is behind us comes out, and get crazy like I did on Friday, then it is what it is. But hopefully, I'll be able to play well again and be all the way up there tomorrow.''

Garcia, who seized control with a career-best 61 on Friday, was at 14-under 196.

McIlroy birdied his last two holes for the second straight day for a 66, and he got his wish – a spot in the final group.

Sunday is set up as a replay of The Open – only with the roles reversed.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


McIlroy had a six-shot lead going into the final round at Hoylake. Garcia, playing in the group ahead, made a spirited run at McIlroy and got within two shots late in the round until he faltered and Boy Wonder pulled away.

''Obviously, Rory is playing great, and we get along nicely as of right now,'' Garcia said. ''I think we're both excited about it. We're definitely going to play hard. It will be nice to see if I can do the same thing he did to me a couple of weeks ago. So we'll see.''

This time, it's McIlroy who has to chase.

''My goal today was to try and get in the final group,'' McIlroy said. ''Sergio didn't quite have that luxury of seeing what I was doing on the last. It will be nice to play alongside him tomorrow and at least keep an eye on what's going on. Try to apply a bit of pressure when I can, but just really looking forward to getting in there and having another chance to win a tournament so soon after what happened at Hoylake.''

Rickie Fowler also was in the hunt at Hoylake, though he took himself out of the picture on the final hole. He went from the left trees to a plugged lie in the bunker, having to brace his right good against the side of a hill. He left it in the bunker and wound up with a double bogey for a 72, putting him 10 shots behind.

This isn't a two-man race for a World Golf Championship title.

Marc Leishman shot a 68 and sits five shots behind, while Adam Scott returned from the rain delay carrying only his long putter, the only weapon he needed to convert one last birdie for a 65 that at least left him with a slim chance. He was six shots behind, along with Keegan Bradley (68) and Justin Rose (70).

The race won't feature defending champion Tiger Woods. The eight-time winner at Firestone made only one birdie on Saturday – he failed to birdie a par 5 for the second straight day – and shot 72. He was 15 shots behind.

Garcia, who won the Qatar Masters this year, has been building toward moments like this. Two weeks after his runner-up finish to McIlroy at Hoylake, the Spaniard has performed so solidly at Firestone that he went 37 consecutive holes without a bogey. Along with four birdies in 11 holes to start his third round, he built a six-shot lead for a brief moment until missing the 14th green long and failing to convert a 5-foot par putt.

Three pars at the end helped keep in front.

He pulled his lay-up shot on the par-5 16th into deep rough, which felt even thicker after the rain delay. Garcia managed to judge it perfectly to clear the water. He hooked his tee shot on the 17th hole and hit 8-iron safely onto the green. The biggest challenge was the 18th, where he had to clear trees with a shot from the rough. He opened up the face of a 7-iron to play a big cut with such elevation, and it cleared the back bunker, leaving him 75 feet away.

''Where I hit it, I couldn't really do much more than that and hope to make a good two-putt,'' he said.

He lagged it down to 5 feet, and lightly pumped his fist when it fell. Every shot matters, especially with someone like McIlroy right behind him.

''The one on 18 is the one that felt the best,'' Garcia said, ''because it was probably the toughest to make par.'' 

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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)