No. 1 With a Bullet

By Associated PressMay 29, 2011, 9:26 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Luke Donald secured the world No. 1 ranking by winning the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, beating Lee Westwood in a playoff in what was a duel for the top spot between the two Englishmen.

On the first playoff hole, Donald landed his approach onto the No. 18 green to within a few feet, while Westwood sent his shot into the adjacent water hazard to decide the tournament at Wentworth.

It is only the second stroke-play title in the past five years for Donald, who joins Westwood and Nick Faldo as the only Englishmen to hold the top spot since the rankings were introduced in 1986.

Donald will replace Westwood when the new rankings are released on Monday.

“Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it,” said Donald, last year’s runner-up. “It’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s something I will be very proud of when I look back. I will savor this moment, it’s very special. I think I will stay the same person, I hope I do. I’m looking forward to the challenge of staying No. 1. I know Lee and Martin (Kaymer) will be chasing me very hard.”

Having trailed co-leaders Matteo Manassero and Donald by two strokes entering the round, Westwood shot a 3-under 68 and Donald hit a 70 for both to total 6-under 278.

Simon Dyson of England (69) finished third at 280 after hitting a 69. Marcus Fraser of Australia (67), France’s Raphael Jacquelin (71) and Shane Lowry of Ireland (67) were a further stroke back.

Donald had missed two previous chances to become No. 1, losing to Ian Poulter in the World Match Play final last week in Spain and going down to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff at The Heritage in April.

But his consistency in finishing in the top 10 for the past nine tournaments – including winning the Accenture Match Play event in Arizona in February – ensured his first playoff victory on either the European or PGA Tour will give him the No. 1 ranking.

Donald said Westwood’s water-bound approach in the playoff was more down to poor fortune than execution.

“It wasn’t a bad shot, just had a litte bit too much spin on it. It was just unfortunate, you don’t like to see that,” Donald said. “Lee is a champion and has been a great No. 1 for European golf.”

A tournament of mostly unimpressive scoring – down to a redesign from Ernie Els that has made the West Course almost unplayable, or to fiendishly difficult pin placements, depending upon whom you believe – continued at the start of the final round.

After rounds of 72 and 72, Donald began the final day by going bogey-bogey, visibly blanching after duffing his chip at the par-3 No. 2 from just off the green.

Manassaero double-bogeyed No. 3 after needing two shots to reach the green from an adjacent bunker. Donald birdied the next hole to draw level with the Italian in front again.

Westwood, however, made four birdies in nine holes after a bogey on No. 3 to sit on top of the leaderboard.

Another birdie for Westwood on the difficult No. 15 green was made possible by one of the shots of the tournament. Having missed the fairway with his driver and receiving a free drop, he carved a 7-iron with draw that rolled within 4 feet of the hole, the putt taking him two strokes ahead of Donald.

That lead evaporated at No. 16.

Westwood three-putted after having dropped his club in his follow-through from the tee. Donald, in the next group, landed his approach within a foot of the hole – and the top two players in the world were level again.

Down the home straight, Donald and Westwood mixed the sub-standard with the sublime.

Donald’s birdie putt lipped out on No. 17 after a brilliant rescue shot from an approach that hit a tree. He landed his tee shot into the bunker at No. 18, not long after Westwood had sent his 5-wood into the gallery at the last.

Both players made par to head back to the No. 18 tee, but Westwood’s reign as No. 1 was to end on the first playoff hole.

“If you’re going to miss your chances, you’ll go into a playoff – and they are volatile, aren’t they?” Westwood said later.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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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.