Lehman leads Regions Tradition

By Associated PressMay 6, 2011, 2:44 am

Champions TourBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tom Lehman enjoyed a rather ho-hum day on the course.

He finished the first round of the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek on Thursday with five birdies, no bogeys and a one-stroke lead over Nick Price, Mark Calcavecchia, Wayne Levi and Chien-Soon Lu and.

“I made a couple of nice saves,” Lehman said. “Otherwise, it was a pretty low-stress round.”

With two wins, a second and a third already in six events, Lehman can say that even though his lead was precarious long after his day’s work was over.

The Champions Tour’s first major of the year – and first professional event at Shoal Creek since the 1990 PGA Championship – started in sunny, mild weather and with fairly low scores.

Lehman tapped-in for birdie on No. 17 to take the lead into the clubhouse. It’s the first time Lehman has had sole possession of the lead after the first round of a Champions Tour event.

Price had a birdie on No. 16 to move into a tie for first, but followed that with a bogey. Levi and Calcavecchia both closed with two straight birdies.

Jay Haas was two shots off the lead while seven players were three back.

“I was surprised that the scoring was as low as it is,” Price said. “But I think playing the pro-ams, the wind was gusting a little bit. They had some tough pins out there (Thursday), but I think the saving grace was the greens were pretty soft. The ball wasn’t releasing on the greens. It’s allowing us when you get good yardage, to pretty much take dead aim here.”

And Lehman hit few errant shots.

The 1996 British Open and Tour Championship winner played the 7,058-yard course trying to keep risk-reward in mind throughout.

“For the most part I drove the ball onto the fairway all day long,” he said. “I hit a few shots that weren’t all that great. But most of my tee shots were in the fairway. I do think it’s the kind of course where when you get the right club and the right pin, you can attack it. If you get a shot you don’t feel good about it, you just don’t mess with it.”

Case in point: Lehman said the key shot of his day wasn’t the 200-yarder to 4 feet for birdie on No. 4. It was the 15-footer to save par on No. 13 after a bunker shot.

“Typically those are the big putts, the ones that keep the momentum going and keep your round going,” he said. “That was the putt for me.”

The key for Calcavecchia might have been not getting rattled by a horrendous start. He had a double bogey on the opening hole after his ball landed in a divot a foot into the right rough.

“I hit this thing and it took off like a shot out of a cannon, airmailed the green,” said Calcavecchia, a 13-time PGA Tour winner seeking his first victory on the Champions Tour. “I chipped it across the green to the bunker, missed a 5-footer and made six.

“After that, I pretty much told myself, ‘There’s 71 holes left. Every player in this tournament’s going to make a double at some point.’ So I forgot about it, moved on.”

He worked his way back to par after the first nine holes and added a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 10.

Calcavecchia finished much better than he started, with what he deemed his best drive of the round to within 147 yards on No. 18. He sent his approach to within about 10 inches of the hole. He birdied the last three holes.

Calcavecchia celebrated his sixth wedding anniversary with six birdies – and maybe a romantic dinner afterward.

Price nearly regained a share of the lead he lost after bogeying No. 17. His 25-footer for birdie fell a few inches short of the final hole.

The former British Open and PGA Championship winner had switched back to the putter he used in winning the Toshiba Classic in March.

“I just seem to have a better feel with it and I seem to be able to aim better with it,” Price said.

It couldn’t save him on the penultimate hole, which he said “was a bit of a nightmare for me.”

“I did hit a pretty good tee shot and laid up with a 7-iron and had not a very good line on the ball,” Price said. “The ball was sitting on a downslope in kind of a skinny part of the fairway. The ball kind of squirreled out on me with a sand wedge. I went into the right hand bunker, then I hit a poor bunker shot out and two-putted.”

Lu, from Taiwan, tied for second at last year’s Tradition, played in Oregon.

Levi, who has finished better than 45th only once in six Champions Tour events, had an adventurous finish with two bogeys and three birdies in his final five holes.

He is seeking his first Champions Tour win since the 2004 Constellation Energy Classic, his second victory.

Defending champion Fred Funk, who won the Tradition in Sunriver, Ore., two of the previous three years, shot a 75 and is tied for 42nd.

Russ Cochran withdrew because of an injured hand and was replaced by Bobby Clampett.

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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.


TV Times (all times ET):

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