Montgomerie makes plea for fans

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2010, 1:28 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Colin Montgomerie wants all those European fans to take another day off.

The Ryder Cup was supposed to end Sunday, but two long rain delays forced the competition into Monday for the first time. Fearful of overcrowding, officials decided to only allow those with final-day tickets to return for the deciding matches at water-logged Celtic Manor.

Of course, some of those 40,000 ticket-holders surely had to be at work or had travel plans that couldn’t be changed. That is sure to mean smaller crowds cheering on the home team when it needs them most, a prospect that seemed a bit troubling to the European captain.

“Quite a few of them might need a sick note,” Montgomerie quipped after Europe surged into a three-point lead heading to singles with one of its most brilliant team performances ever. “We do hope that as many people as possible with Sunday tickets will turn up.”

Monty asked course officials if fans with Sunday and Friday tickets could be allowed in, boosting the potential crowd and paying back those who saw only a few hours of golf the first day (play was suspended for more than seven hours because of heavy rain).

That wasn’t possible.

“Imagine if all 40,000 today turn up and all 40,000 Friday turn up, the course couldn’t cope,” Montgomerie said. “Unfortunately, we have to limit it to people with Sunday tickets, and I think that’s only fair.”

Celtic Manor already was pushed to the brink by torrential rain that turned many of the areas outside the ropes into something more suited for a tractor pull.

After more rain pounded the course, delaying play Sunday by almost four hours, the gates didn’t open to fans until 11 a.m.

“There was a health and safety issue here,” Montgomerie said. “It was touch and go whether any spectators were out on the course today at all.”

Celtic Manor’s owner, Sir Terry Matthews, built the new Twenty Ten course mainly for the notoriety it could bring to his resort and the boost it could give to Wales, which is hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time. All that rain surely hasn’t been much of a selling point to potential tourists.

“Everybody involved in organizing this first Ryder Cup in Wales is deeply disappointed by the weather,” Matthews said in a statement, “but our biggest disappointment is for the spectators and sponsors who deserve so much better.”

Many have questioned the wisdom of hosting the event at one of the rainiest times of year in this country, but Matthews said the bad weather was simply a case of bad luck.

“We could have played this event exactly one year ago or exactly one week ago and we would have experienced no interruptions to the schedule of play,” he said. “But one thing we cannot control is the weather.”

BUZZING AMERICANS: Stewart Cink asked to have Matt Kuchar as a partner.

Good thing the captain went along.

The Georgia Tech alums and good friends were the most successful pairing for the Americans during team play, winning one match and halving two others.

Without them, the Americans would be facing an even more daunting deficit than the three-point margin they’ll have to overcome in singles Monday.

Cink’s putter has been hot, while Kuchar has steadily improved since a shaky start.

“Certainly, there’s been some good play,” Kuchar said. “I’ve been pleased I’ve kind of gotten better every day. I’m pleased with Stewart and we paired up pretty well together, took two of three points, and I feel like it’s been a good performance I put in. I feel like it’s been getting stronger.”

They won’t be able to lean on each other anymore. Cink will go out in the second match, facing Rory McIlroy, while Kuchar was placed in the fifth slot against Ian Poulter. The Americans must win 7 1/2 out of 12 points to retain the cup, a tough task playing on the road.

“We have to continue to do well in the singles,” Kuchar said.

BROTHER ACT: As the Molinaris went to the 18th hole, trailing again, they surely were aware that being the first siblings to play in the Ryder Cup since 1963 wouldn’t mean a thing if they couldn’t produce at least a half-point for the European team.

Edoardo put his wedge shot about 15 feet from the flag. His little brother Francesco stuck his even closer – just 3 feet away.

When big brother missed his putt, Francesco knew he had to come through. Plagued all day by a shaky putter, he knocked this one right in the center of the cup for the birdie that won the hole, halved the match and gave Europe a potentially important half-point.

“It was a great finish,” Edoardo said.

The Molinaris went to No. 18 one hole down, facing the prospect of being the only European team not to score on Sunday. They were playing with passion and flair, but already had lost one match and faced another defeat largely because of Francesco’s shaky putter, which missed on several short attempts.

But the Italians caught a break when Cink drove into a bunker on the par-5 finishing hole, a mistake that took him out of contention for making birdie. Kuchar had to lay up in front of the water with his second shot, and only got within 25 feet of the flag with his wedge into the green, not close enough for a strong chance at birdie.

“When Cink missed the drive in the bunker, it was two against one,” Edoardo said. “We definitely had an advantage and we were good enough to win the hole.”

With the match all-square at No. 16, Francesco elected to putt first to save par even though he was closer than his brother. The move backfired. Francesco missed another one from inside 10 feet, his brother also missed and the Americans regained the lead.

But Francesco’s putt at 18 made up for it.

“We played very well,” Edoardo said. “I think we deserve our half-point at least.”

European captain Colin Montgomerie praised the Italians more than anyone else, knowing that halving a match will surely help their confidence going into singles play. Francesco will be playing Tiger Woods in the eighth match Monday, followed by his brother against Rickie Fowler.

“To do what they did at that last hole, two rookies, two brothers coming down that last hole with everybody who plays golf in Europe watching them,” Montgomerie said. “Fantastic performance to hole that putt at the last by Francesco. Fabulous.”

CARRYING THE LOAD: One of the most overlooked members of the European team is Ross Fisher.

While players such as Lee Westwood and Luke Donald garner much of the attention, Fisher’s performance has been invaluable.

Paired with Ian Poulter in the opening fourballs, Fisher’s team lost to Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in a tight match.

Captain Colin Montgomerie then juggled his teams, pairing Fisher with struggling Padraig Harrington. The Irishman continues to have his problems, but Fisher has picked up the slack in two victories. They beat Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in alternate shot, then took out Johnson and Jim Furyk in fourballs.

“He certainly played the best golf probably anyone has ever seen in a Ryder Cup,” Harrington said. “He made all the shots, holed all the putts. He really did play awesome.”

Fisher got the Europeans going with three straight birdies early in Sunday’s match, and he made three more on the back side – including the clinching birdie putt at No. 17.

“I just had so much fun out there,” Fisher said. “Being with Paddy again, you know you’re with a great champion, a three-time major champion, and he showed his class. I got him to read my putts, and every time I was standing over a putt, I felt so confident.”

DIVOTS: The depth of the European team is evident: All 12 players helped score at least a half-point in team matches. Lee Westwood (2-0-1) and Martin Kaymer (2-0-1) lead the way, while Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Luke Donald have been in on two wins apiece. … Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are the only Americans with two wins, and even that mark is tarred by the biggest loss of the team competition, a 6-and-5 blowout by Westwood and Donald. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who were sent out in the very first match by the U.S., are both 0-3. They lost twice as partners, then were beaten again after the pairings were switched up for the third session. … The win by Westwood and Donald was the biggest in alternate shot since Sam Torrance and Costantino Rocca beat Davis Love III and Jeff Maggert by the same margin in 1995. … Donald is 6-0 in alternate shot matches in his Ryder Cup career.

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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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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the later when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and it needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. They were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed to only be inside the top-eight after 72 holes to advance to the match play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched of Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match behind, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to be the one to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, thick rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore failed to put pressure on Abe and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite awhile but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot, that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''