No American major holders for first time in 17 years

By Associated PressApril 11, 2011, 5:36 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was only fitting that on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player becoming the first non-American player to win the Masters, he watched another South African, Charl Schwartzel, become the first champion at Augusta National to finish with four straight birdies.

Player wasted no time sending his congratulations – on Twitter, of course, in a sign of the times. In the hours after Schwartzel won against a leaderboard that featured players from every continent on which golf is played, the 26-year-old champion sent Player a reply.

“Proud to follow your tradition!”

Player was an anomaly at the time he won, the first global player in a game that is more international than ever before. Schwartzel’s victory Sunday at the Masters was only the latest example of worldwide parity in golf.

For the first time since 1994 – and only the second since the Masters began in 1934 – non-American players hold the four major championships. Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland won the U.S. Open last summer at Pebble Beach, followed by Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa at the British Open and Martin Kaymer of Germany at the PGA Championship.

“The world is big,” Schwartzel said after the third round. “America is big, but the world is bigger. There’s more people. It might change again. There’s just a bunch of good players out there from the European Tour and even Asia.”

Schwartzel is not a late bloomer in the game.

His father has a chicken farm in Vereeniging, near Pretoria, and he played golf three times a week. Schwartzel was a toddler when his father and Ernie Els played together in a team event they won at a local club in South Africa. He would caddie for his father in Wednesday and Saturday games, and they played together on Friday.

“And that’s how it started,” Schwartzel said.

As a teenager, he took part in Els’ junior program that traveled around the country to compete. Another kid from the other side of the country, Oosthuizen, also was part of that program. Oosthuizen hoisting a claret jug last summer at St. Andrews did not go unnoticed.

“That was a huge inspiration,” Schwartzel said. “We grew up together from a young age. We played every single team event, and we represented South Africa for so long. We basically are the best of mates. So we know where our level of golf is, and just to see him do it made me realize that it’s possible.”

Schwartzel winning allowed for 50-year bookends of South Africans in a green jacket. This final round, however, also was reminiscent of 25 years ago, when Jack Nicklaus stormed through a leaderboard that featured Tom Kite, Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros to win a sixth green jacket at age 46.

That will live in Masters lore because it was Nicklaus. This one was compelling because of the sheer number of players who had a chance. The significance of 1986 – in terms of global golf – goes beyond the scores that week.

It was in 1986 when the Official World Golf Ranking was introduced, with Europeans at Nos. 1-2-3 in the world. The Masters, along with the other two American-based majors, had a distinctive Stars & Stripes feel to it.

There were only 13 players outside North America in the 88-man field at Augusta in 1986. This year, there were 55 players from outside North American in the 99-man field.

“Maybe in the past, there are only 10, 15, 20 guys who could win the tournament,” Kaymer said earlier in the week. “These days, how many is in the field, 100? And probably 60, 70 guys have a chance to win. I don’t think it has something to do with where you’re coming from – America or Asia or Europe.”

Among the 34 players who broke par at the Masters was 19-year-old Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who qualified by winning the Asian Amateur Championship. The Augusta National members were thrilled, not only because they are working with the Royal & Ancient to develop the Asian Amateur, but because they figured it would be another five years before the amateur winner could factor at the Masters.

Y.E. Yang of South Korea was the first Asian male to win a major two years ago in the PGA Championship.

Australia has had a golf tradition for more than a century, although it remains without a green jacket. It only stands out because of all the heartache Greg Norman suffered at Augusta over the years.

Adam Scott had a one-shot lead with two holes to play, and Jason Day birdied his last two holes. They tied for second, while Geoff Ogilvy and his five straight birdies on the back nine put him in a tie for fourth.

Norman spoke to Day and Scott by phone after they signed their cards.

“He’s very proud of what we did out there and how we played,” Day said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a drought for too long. I think Australian golf is right where it needs to be, and there’s a lot of young, good Australian golfers coming up right now through the ranks. One of us is going to win that green jacket one day.”

When that day comes, the Australians will have more than Woods or any other American to beat. South Africans have won two of the last three majors. Europeans have won two of the last four.

“It just shows how strong golf is worldwide,” Day said. “It used to be pretty strong on the American circuit. Just shows how tough it is getting and how tough it is to get onto these tours.”

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Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.

Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?

The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.

“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.

Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.

“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”

Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.

“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”

After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.

And the Wildcats better rest up.

Alabama looks unstoppable.

“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”

Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.

After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.

They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.

Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.

“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”

They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.

“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”

That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.

The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.

“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.

It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”

Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.

They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.

Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.

“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”

Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.

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Pairings, tee times set for championship match

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 1:02 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.

“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”

Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.

Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.

Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.


Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)

3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)

3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)

3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)

3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)

4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)

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Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 pm

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 advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested 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 finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)