Montgomerie The greatest moment of my golfing career

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2010, 10:51 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Colin Montgomerie finally has his major. Maybe not the one he had in mind at the beginning of his career. But there is no more fitting bookend.

Monty played in eight Ryder Cups, won five, went unbeaten in singles throughout, and contributed the second-most points of any European player in history. For all that, there was no question where this one ranked.

“This,” he said, standing alongside the gold chalice at closing ceremonies, “is the greatest moment of my golfing career.”

The dour, finicky 47-year-old Scot, like U.S. counterpart Corey Pavin, didn’t hit a shot in any of the 28, often stop-and-start matches that stretched out over four days due to rain. But from start to thrilling finish, Montgomerie hit just about every note right.

Weeks before the teams arrived at Celtic Manor, he walked through the place, inspecting every inch. At one point, he stopped outside what would become Europe’s team room, looked at the hinges on the door and ordered them changed on the spot. Montgomerie insisted that the door swing in, rather than out, if only to make sure none of his players inadvertently got hit walking in just as another was walking out.

Results from the 38th Ryder Cup

Session 1 Fourballs
Session 2 Foursomes
Session 3 Foursomes
Session 3 Fourballs
Session 4 Singles

His attention to detail hardly ended there. Appropriately, it was the very last decision he made, slotting cool-as-they-come Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell in the 12th and final singles slot Monday, that paid the biggest dividend in a match decided by the slimmest of margins.

“He’s everything there is in the Ryder Cup,” McDowell said after delivering the winning point in Europe’s 14 1/2 -13 1/2 win. “To be able to do that for him today was really special.”

Unless he’s playing, the leader of any team can only do so much. That didn’t keep Monty from trying to steal any advantage anywhere he could.

His stars, English players Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Poulter, outshined the U.S. trio of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk. His most controversial captain’s pick, Padraig Harrington, the three-time major winner he chose over Paul Casey, proved enough of a steadying influence to squire rookie Ross Fisher to wins in both foursomes (alternate shot) and fourballs (better ball). All of his other rookies contributed at least a half-point or more, too. He talked about the difference of putting in match play until he was blue in the face, and unlike the Americans, his players left precious few of their tries short.

Heck, the Europeans’ rain gear even worked better in the downpours that turned the Twenty Ten course into a soggy bog.

“All credit to Monty for everything he’s done this week,” assistant captain Darren Clarke said. “The way he’s gone through everything has been meticulous, but this is what you’ll have to do for the future. He’s been sensational.”

Yet Montgomerie also knows disappointment. His best playing days are far enough behind him to know he’ll never win the British Open, the major he wanted most growing up as a golfing prodigy and the son of the secretary at Royal Troon. Ditto for the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship – the last two of which he’d already lost in playoffs.

Asked whether this made up for those elusive majors, Montgomerie did not hesitate.

“Oh, yes. I’d never go back at all. I only want to go forward,” he said. “There’s a different responsibility being captain than there is playing. Playing is a whole different responsibility and a whole different feel.

“It was my job to try and manage these great players this week and try to make them feel as comfortable as possible and to play their best. And I always said, if they can play to their potential, we would win. And I truly believe they did, and therefore, we did.”

On the eve of the matches, Montgomerie fretted that even his speech at Thursday’s opening ceremony could prove decisive. Left off the 2008 European team that was beaten at Valhalla, he refused to criticize then-captain Nick Faldo, a longtime Ryder Cup playing partner whose clumsy stabs at humor that year were roundly slammed.

In his speech, much the same way he plays the game, Monty hit it straight down the middle. But after Pavin forgot to mention U.S. golfer Stewart Cink during player introductions, the competitor in Montgomerie couldn’t let it slide by without a dig.

“We,” he said through a sly grin, “are 1 up.”

In retrospect, the Europeans may have started this competition further ahead than that. Montgomerie partnered or played for nearly every important figure in European golf during the last two decades – among them, Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sam Torrance and Seve Ballesteros – and gleaned something from each.

So when both captains chose motivational speakers to talk to their teams, Montgomerie turned to Ballesteros. The Spaniard joined the Ryder Cup team in 1979, when, in a bid to make the matches competitive once more, the European selection process was opened to golfers from the continent. He went on to become European golf’s most inspirational figure.

Today, that legacy remains undimmed, even though Ballesteros hasn’t been seen in public for nearly two years while he battles brain cancer. His last appearance in a Ryder Cup was as captain of the winning side at Valderrama in 1997. Monty arranged for his former teammate and captain to talk to the European squad via speakerphone from the fishing village along Spain’s wind-swept northern coast, where Ballesteros first learned to play golf.

As champagne flowed on every side, Sergio Garcia, the slumping Spanish golfer whom Montgomerie added to the squad as an assistant captain, fought back tears. He said he hoped the win might give back some small bit of the fighting spirit Ballesteros’ talk had instilled in the team.

“I hope,” Garcia said, “he’s proud of us.”

Leave it to Montgomerie to make sure that was so.

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Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

Getty Images

Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.

• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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