No 1 UCLA women set to defend NCAA title

By Associated PressMay 21, 2012, 11:21 pm

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Another NCAA championship is stocked with Southeastern Conference teams looking to add one more title to the league's crowded trophy case.

The NCAA women's golf championship begins Tuesday at the Legends Club, the home course for Vanderbilt - one of seven SEC teams looking to finish the week by lifting the trophy. LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida also are here, giving the SEC more teams than any other conference.

''We want to win, and there's no doubt about that,'' Vanderbilt coach Greg Allen said on Monday after his Commodores played nine practice holes. ''We keep telling them what they accomplished last week is by far more pressure than they're going to feel this week.''

His players were on the cut line after 18 holes only to rebound and qualify for the championship by finishing second at the Central Regional at Ohio State. They also have senior Marina Alex, a two-time SEC player of the year, as they host the first Division I national championship ever played in middle Tennessee.

''There's nothing like this,'' Alex said. ''We've never hosted a regional or an SEC championship, and this is bigger than both of them, so it's quite an experience.''

The Commodores have plenty of company with 24 total teams competing for the national title led by defending champion UCLA. The Bruins have been the top-ranked program for the longest stretch under coach Carrie Forsyth, and their seven wins in 11 tournaments is best in the country. They finished no worse than runner-up in three other events, and Forsyth has three players ranked among the top 15 by either GolfStat or GolfWeek.

''Last year was last year,'' Forsyth said. ''We have a couple different players. The golf course is different than the course we played last year. Nothing ever stays the same in golf, so you've got to do the best you can on every course with any lineup.''

Among the tournaments UCLA won was on this course last September in Vanderbilt's annual Mason Rudolph Fall Preview by six strokes over Alabama. Forsyth and her Bruins are trying to repeat as champs, something that hasn't been done since Duke won three straight titles between 2005 and 2007.

''We're really comfortable with the golf course, with the facility,'' UCLA junior Tiffany Lua said. ''We love the greens. Definitely winning the Fall Preview gave us a confidence boost. We're just looking to go out there to play one shot at a time.''

They better because Purdue, the 2010 champion, is in the field along with Duke, led by Lindy Duncan, the nation's top-ranked player. There's also LSU, a program that finished third a year ago and tied top-seeded UCLA at the West Regional with seeding going into the event being the tiebreaker. The Lady Tigers are led by Austin Ernst, who also is defending the individual championship she won as a freshman.

''It's all about peaking at the right time of the year, and I feel like they're in a good place,'' LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said. ''They're hitting the ball really good, and it's just a matter of going out and playing this golf course really smart.''

Ernst's win in this event a year ago set off quite a run. She won the Cougar Classic last fall, made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year and was named to the Curtis Cup team. Ernst, whose father Mark is a PGA club professional in South Carolina, also is the highest-rated American amateur and No. 7 in the world.

Tying UCLA at the West Regional has pumped up not only Ernst's confidence but her teammates as well.

''We know our capabilities,'' Ernst said. ''We know we can win. Coming off of last year, we got third. We were right here. I feel like this team this year, we're even better, so I feel like we have a really good chance. And obviously tied for the lead last week we had a really good chance to pull it out ... We had a good chance to win it outright. I think we're about as confident as we're going to get.''

The North Course hosted an LPGA event for a few years, but this week the course will play 6,377 yards with a couple changes. No. 4 will be played as a long par 4 instead of a par 5, while No. 9 will play about 455 yards as a par 5. Vanderbilt switched out the greens from bent grass to Bermuda dwarf grass last year, local knowledge Allen said the Commodores hope to use to their advantage.

But the grass is very similar to what LSU has on its own greens at the Lady Tigers' home course.

''It's a good championship layout, and I think it's a good test,'' Bahnsen said.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.