Langer Freeman lead on windy Day 1 at Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 28, 2010, 6:28 am

PARKER, Colo. – Robin Freeman’s Oklahoma roots would seem to make him the perfect golfer to handle the gusts whipping through the high plains this week.

“It would be, but I haven’t been to Oklahoma in 30 years,” Freeman quipped after shooting a 6-under 66 Thursday for a share of the first-round lead at the 71st PGA Senior Championship at Colorado Golf Club.

Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer also took advantage of an early tee time before the winds whipped up and dried out the greens, firing a 66 on the piney 3-year-old private course.

Tom Lehman was the notable exception among the leaders, teeing off in the afternoon and carding a 68 to sit two shots back, along with Brad Bryant, of Amarillo, Texas.

Lehman was at 5-under when his tee shot on No. 18 found the rough, and he bogeyed.

Fred Couples and Tom Kite were among four golfers three shots off the pace.

Although it wasn’t nearly as windy as Monday, when 70 mph gusts prompted club pro Scott Pence of Middletown, R.I., to deadpan: “I saw Dorothy and Toto go by,” the winds on Thursday reached 35 mph, made shots and putts tricky, and dried out the greens.

Bernhard Langer swings golf clubMany shots were an adventure on the 7,406-yard, par-72 course that cuts through open meadows, wooded hillsides and streams on picturesque land where the Rockies meet the plains, an area that gets its share of violent weather.

Making his Senior PGA Championship debut at age 51, Freeman, of Coronado, Calif., actually did harken back to his wind-swept days at the University of Central Oklahoma before he turned pro in 1982.

“I can hit it low if I have to. But it’s kind of funny that a lot of times you want to hit the ball up in the air here, just so it will carry the right distance,” he said. “The spin is very important coming off the irons here, into the wind, even downwind, because if you don’t spin the ball correctly the wind will knock it down or balloon it or whatever.

“I hit my irons very solid today, which helped me maintain the right distance control. But, yes, to your question, growing up in Oklahoma does help.”

So does growing up in Germany, as Langer did.

“I think I’m a pretty decent wind player,” said Langer, who won 42 times on the European Tour and three times on the PGA Tour, including the Masters in 1985 and ’93.

“The really good wind players say they always curve it into the wind,” Langer said. “I don’t always do that. But that’s a better way to stop the ball on the greens. So, if you have right-to-left wind, you slice it into the wind and the ball comes down softer than letting it hook.”

That’s easier said that done, as the higher afternoon scores showed.

Langer was 5-under through six holes thanks to an eagle on No. 14, where he pitched in from 103 yards with a sand wedge on the par-4, 322-yard hole.

“I had 13 holes to go and I had to play them whether I made eagle there or birdie or par,” Langer said. “But, yeah, it’s nice to get under, in the red numbers, get under par early and take it from there. It’s certainly better than being a couple over.”

Neither Freeman nor Langer was overly excited about grabbing a share of the 18-hole lead because they’ll be teeing off in the afternoon Friday, when the winds are again expected to keep scores in the black.

The winds on Thursday kept shifting, which left many golfers guessing.

“You get on the greens and the wind’s wiggling you around, the ball feels like it’s going to roll all the time and you got all the undulation you’re working with, and it’s just a challenge,” said Jay Don Blake, who shot a 71. “And then trying to figure out, you’re uphill shooting shots, downwind, into the wind. I mean, it’s so hard to pick the clubs.”

Ben Crenshaw, who fired a 72 on the course he co-designed, said he was worried about the weather.

“I hope it doesn’t get any more than this,” he said. “I know it’s forecast as not good tomorrow and I’m worried about that. If you get any more wind and the greens get keen and the ball starts blowing around, then you’re worried about disruption of play. … They put a good amount of water on the greens and they dried out pretty good today.”

Willis Young, the onsite meteorologist for the PGA, said Friday’s forecast calls for similar but warmer weather with winds progressively strengthening throughout the afternoon, topping out at 35 mph.

Fred Funk, who was even-par after the first round, was actually looking forward to teeing off in the afternoon Friday because he figures the winds will die down by the time he’s finishing his round.

“We’ll actually have a lot when we tee off and then late in the round it will be perfect,” he said.

It’s not just the wind that’s on the minds of the golfers here. The high point on the course is about 6,200 feet. Combine that with the thin air and the hilly terrain, and it’s easy to see why many predict someone in their early 50s  – like Freeman or Langer – will be holding the silver trophy aloft Sunday.

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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.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

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.