McIlroy returns, struggles in second round

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2011, 4:05 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Jason Dufner couldn’t have seen this coming. Not after missing the cut in his last four tournaments.

Ditto for Keegan Bradley, whose career is just getting started. Heck, he’d never even played in a major until he got to Atlanta Athletic Club.

But there they were Friday, sharing the top spot on the leaderboard midway through the PGA Championship.

“It’s cool to look around and see all these guys I’ve looked up to my whole life and able to be peers with them and compete at the highest level with them,” Bradley said.

At the moment, no one is competing at a higher level than Dufner and Bradley.

Dufner shot a 5-under 65 on a day when the average score was nearly eight strokes higher. Bradley was even better, turning in a 64 that left them tied at 5-under 135 on another blistering day in Georgia.

“I hadn’t played very well this summer,” said Dufner, who hadn’t made a cut since the Byron Nelson Championship in late May. “But that’s kind of par for the course for me, so I took three weeks off coming into this event.”

Properly refreshed, he came into the year’s final major feeling a bit more confident about his chances than one might expect.

The 34-year-old played his college golf at Auburn, about a two-hour drive from Atlanta, and still lives there. He’s used to competing in the heat and humidity. He’s comfortable putting on the Bermuda greens that are common in this part of the country.

“Being in the South, playing college golf in the South, I seem to play most of my good events around Bermuda grass,” Dufner said. “I was pretty pumped up coming in. We don’t get a chance to play too many majors on this grass.”

He’s never won a PGA Tour event. This would be quite a spot to get his first one.

The 25-year-old Bradley already claimed his first win - coincidentally, at the Byron Nelson - but he’s still best known as the nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.

He runs into plenty of people who have no idea who he is.

“The worst one is when you sign an autograph and the kid looks at you and asks you what your name is,” Bradley said. “That’s the worst one. I’ve gotten that a bunch of times this week. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a surprise that I was up there.”

He and Dufner aren’t the only ones who seemingly came out of nowhere to challenge for the Wanamaker Trophy.

The group at 136 included D.A. Points, a 34-year-old journeyman who claimed his first Tour win in February at Pebble Beach, and John Senden, a 40-year-old Australian who hasn’t won a tournament in five years.

Brendan Steele is among those two strokes off the lead - and, if you’re not sure who he is, well, he did win this year’s Valero Texas Open. However, hardly anyone noticed because that was the week after the Masters and most of the top players were enjoying some time off.

Still not obscure enough?

Well, meet 46-year-old Brandt Jobe, whose last win came at a tournament in Japan - 14 years ago. He’s never won in two on-and-off decades on the PGA Tour, but he was right in the mix at Atlanta after totaling 137 over the first two days.

Of course, the majors are filled with 36-hole leaders who were never heard from again.

Senden, for one, knows he can’t be satisfied with being in contention on Friday. He wants to be there on Sunday.

“I need to step it up, go out there and really want it, feel good about myself and go do what I’ve been doing the last couple of days,” the Aussie said.

At least he won’t have to worry about Tiger Woods chasing him down on the weekend.

The 14-time major champion missed the cut. So did defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer. As did the guy who would’ve been in a playoff with Kaymer if he hadn’t grounded his club in a pseudo-bunker on the 72nd hole, Dustin Johnson.

Even the more prominent players who made it through have some work to do. Phil Mickelson was six shots off the lead. U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy faced an eight-stroke deficit and was nursing an ailing wrist.

There were only three major champions among the top 25 - Jim Furyk, Trevor Immelman and Davis Love III, all with one title apiece.

“I’m sure it would be different if Phil was up there or those other guys,” Bradley said. “But these guys are all great players. It’s not like they just kind of stumbled up there. They’ve been out here a long time. They’re great players. They’ve contended in tournaments.”

Not one like this, however.


Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.