McIlroy feeling refreshed, ready to make another major run

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2011, 3:35 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Rory McIlroy is glad to be back at work, especially after the last two months.

McIlroy said during a press conference Wednesday at the PGA Championship that it’s been a steady stream of photo shoots, celebrity gossip and attention since his U.S. Open victory last June.

The 22-year-old with the tight, dark curls from Northern Ireland became a worldwide sensation after rebounding from a final-round collapse at the Masters with his runaway win at Congressional Country Club where he set a the U.S. Open scoring record at 16-under 268.

McIlroy instantly became golf’s new rising star, with his movements tracked on Twitter and people blogging that he was certainly heir apparent to Tiger Woods’ championship legacy. Even McIlroy’s recent friendship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki had the Internet ablaze with speculation about their status.

All of it took the focus off McIlroy’s golf. That changed, he said, with last week’s showing, a tie for sixth at the World Golf Championship’s Bridgestone Invitational.

“It was a little bit of a whirlwind after what happened at Congressional,” McIlroy said. “But it’s nice to feel like you’re back out there and finally working hard again.”

McIlroy couldn’t pick a better time to re-hone his game. He tied for third at the last two PGA Championships and said it may be the major that best fits his talents.

“I love how the PGA of America set the golf course up at this event,” he said. “I think it really suits my game, puts a premium on ball-striking.”

It’s probably a relief for McIlroy to concentrate on golf. It’s one thing to play out sinking the winning birdie putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National and quite another to live out the experience at 22, McIlroy said.

As a teenager on the range, “all you think about is the golf, and you think about how great it is to hopefully be one of the best players in the world,” McIlroy said. “And you never really think of the other side of it, the attention, the spotlight.”

McIlroy’s learning about the other side.

He’s said he’s had fans show up at his home in Northern Ireland at all hours, prompting regular security at times. He told a critic at the Irish Open to “Shut up” on Twitter after harsh comments about his caddie, JP Fitzgerald.

It’s been reported that McIlroy’s choice to play more events on the PGA Tour next year was an escape from the attention, a chance to play somewhere his life wouldn’t be subject to round-the-clock scrutiny.

McIlroy said the decision about 2012 is in the best interest of his career. It doesn’t hurt that American fans have embraced him like one of their own. They stood several deep outside the clubhouse here Tuesday when McIlroy came out, children shrieking his name for an autograph.

“I get a great response from the crowds,” he said. “I feel like the reception I get over here is like an American player. It’s nice to have.”

A successful week at the Atlanta Athletic Club would certainly speed up the fourth-ranked McIlroy’s rise to the top both here and abroad.

McIlroy’s already shown the grit to recover from disappointment. He said he now relies on himself after his disappointing Masters finish - McIlroy shot 80 after entering the final round with a four-shot lead - and not change who he was to suit the moment.

“I felt as if I was a completely different person on that Sunday at Augusta and I didn’t need to be,” he said. “I didn’t need to change. I didn’t need to be more focused. I didn’t need to concentrate more.”

McIlroy has maintained that perspective at the year’s final major. He’s gotten in some solid practice and is ready for the heat, moreso than the changing weather McIlroy decried at last month’s British Open, saying he preferred warmer conditions to the rain and wind at Royal St. George’s. “Who wouldn’t like to play in warmer weather?” he said Wednesday.

Not that McIlroy will have it easy with a field that’s packed with the world’s best, all eager to end the season with a major title. “There’s a little bit of added tension there, a little bit more anxiety to try and perform well,” said Luke Donald, the world’s top-ranked golfer.

McIlroy feels fresh and ready to stamp the 2011 season as his own with a second major. He’s also ready for the extra attention that will bring to his life in the spotlight.

“It’s part of my life now and something I’ll definitely have to get used to,” McIlroy said. “But it’s definitely better this way than no one wanting to know what you’re up to.”

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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)