No. 1 Cal squeaks by ASU; NCAA semifinals set

By Associated PressJune 1, 2013, 12:03 am

MILTON, Ga. – Top-seeded California survived a quarterfinal scare from Pac-12 rival Arizona State on Friday to advance to the semifinals in the NCAA golf championship.

Brandon Hage birdied No. 18 after a nearly perfect approach to give the Bears a 3-2 victory and a spot in the semifinals against Illinois. The fifth-seeded Illini beat defending champion Texas 3-2.

Host Georgia Tech will face Alabama, the 2012 runner-up, in the other semifinal at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course north of Atlanta. The second-seeded Yellow Jackets needed a birdie from Ollie Schneiderjans on an extra hole to edge UNLV 3-2, while third-seeded Alabama topped New Mexico 4-1.

Hage hit his 137-yard approach within 3 feet to set up the winning birdie against Jon Rahm, the Arizona State freshman who shot a 61 on Tuesday in the first round of stroke play.

Hage's shot came after he had failed to close things out on No. 17 when his par putt lipped out.

''I just concentrated on the target and made a good swing,'' the junior said.

Asked if he was nervous, Hage didn't hesitate. ''Absolutely,'' he said.


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Nothing coming easy for No. 1 Cal


Cal coach Steve Deismond said he had been antsy throughout the match.

''It was an uneasy feeling,'' said Deismond, in his 34th season as Bears coach. ''How many times (this year) have we been in a situation like this? Almost zero.''

Schneiderjans also hit a decisive approach, sticking his shot within a couple feet from about 110 yards and holing to putt to beat Kevin Penner, who had made a 50-footer on No. 17 to tie.

''I knew everything was on the line, but I called on my experience and felt really calm,'' the sophomore said. ''It was a great match. He played very well.''

Cal, which finished stroke play Thursday six shots ahead of second-place Georgia Tech, entered the tournament as the favorite after winning 11 of 13 tournaments this season.

The Bears, the NCAA champs in 2004, lost 3-2 to Alabama in the semifinals in 2012 and anything less than a title will mark this season as a disappointment.

Arizona State coach Tim Mickelson, PGA Tour star Phil Mickelson's brother, still considers the Bears in an elite class.

''I don't see how it gets any better,'' he said. ''I believe it's the best (college) team we've ever put on golf course. If they don't win it's a shame. But it's match play and you never know.''

Deismond didn't take Arizona State lightly, and is concerned about Illinois.

''What's kind of gone under the radar screen is that those two teams are the two most improved teams in college golf this spring, period,'' the Cal coach said.

Illinois is assured of matching its best NCAA finish since 1941, when it was fourth. The Illini lost in the quarterfinals in 2011, the third year of the match-play format.

''A bull's-eye on your back means your ahead,'' said Cal senior Max Homa, who won the NCAA individual title Thursday. ''Pressure is a privilege. There can never be too much pressure.''

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”

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Watch: Wagner saves season with walk-off eagle dunk

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 2:45 am

Johnson Wagner kept his FedExCup Playoff hopes alive on Friday at the Wyndham Championship ... and he did it in dramatic fashion.

Needing a birdie on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number, Johnson used a 9-iron from 153 yards out to dunk his approach for eagle to get inside the cut line.

Johnson's eagle at the last gave him a 66 for the day and earned him two more rounds to try and get inside the FedExCup top 125 for next week's start of the postseason, The Northern Trust.