Notes: Caddie Green could out-peform boss this week

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2011, 1:55 am

TOLEDO, Ohio – If things work out right this week, Damon Green – for a change – will make more headlines than his boss.

Green, who caddies for the PGA Tour’s Zach Johnson, shot a 4-under 67 to stand in a tie for fourth, just three shots back, after the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club on Thursday.

Wait. He almost made headlines two weeks ago while looping for Johnson at the British Open.

“He kind of had his back to the hole and I thought he had lost sight of where the hole was. I almost went up and said, ‘Zach, hang on. The pin’s over here,”’ Green said, trying to stifle his laughter. “But he hit this ball up on the fringe, had it come down and he almost made it. I said, ‘Dude, I almost stopped you there!’ I’m glad I didn’t. I would have looked like an idiot.”

He looked like a genius on Thursday.

Even through 12 holes after starting on the 10th, he eagled his 13th hole and then birdied the last two.

Green, from Florida, might be playing in his first U.S. Golf Association national event, but he’s far from a neophyte. He was on Johnson’s bag when he captured the 2007 Masters and has caddied for nine PGA Tour victories for Johnson and Scott Hoch. He’s caddied in more than 10 U.S. Opens.

Being on the course with so many elite golfers has made him a better player.

“I’m way better,” he said. “I’ve won like 71 tournaments on the mini-tours, but I really didn’t know what I was doing until I started caddying for Scott Hoch and he taught me a lot about course management. I learned you don’t have to shoot at every pin; sometimes par’s not bad. With Zach, it’s more putting. He’s a really good putter.”

The 50-year-old Green figures he’s been pretty lucky to carve out a career in golf, even if it’s not exactly the one he might have picked.

“I never dreamed I’d be a caddie,” he said.

He always figured he’d be a player. A star at Centenary, he came within a 2 1/2 -foot putt on the last hole of getting his Tour card at Q-school in 1994.

It still haunts him.

“Every night, almost. You’ll be laying in bed and if you think about that 2 1/2 -footer that you missed and it could have changed your life,” he said. “I wake up in a cold sweat sometimes.”

Winning would erase quite a few of those nightmares. But it still wouldn’t change the life he’s living.

“Not necessarily,” he said with a grin. “I had it in my mind even if I got my (Champions Tour) card I’d probably still do both. You know, the way the schedule is, I enjoy competing and I enjoy caddying.”

So no matter what happens at Inverness, he’ll keep doing both.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Joey Sindelar on the tough stretch between Nos. 12 and 16: “So many of the classic bloody-nose holes are in a row here.”

ANOTHER STEP: Defending champion Bernhard Langer isn’t looking for a miracle this week in the U.S. Senior Open. He just wants to continue in the right direction.

After missing almost four months rehabbing a torn ligament in his thumb, Langer shot a 1-under 70 at Inverness Club. It’s his third tournament back and he hoped that he could just get through another week without pain.

He celebrated a birdie putt on the 18th hole with a surprisingly exuberant display of emotion.

“Every shot counts, every shot is important,” he said. “It’s nicer to be in the red numbers and one closer to the leaders.”

NOW OR NEVER: Steve Jones won the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills but now has the challenge of just trying to get his foot in the door at Champions Tour events.

Injuries have stunted a once-promising career. He’s had an irregular heartbeat, elbow surgery and a shoulder injury in recent years. As a result, he’s struggling to even get a chance to play.

“This is my fifth tournament. It just takes time,” he said. “I need a year to really get going, but I really don’t have a year. I’ve got to try to step it up somehow.”

He shot a 4-under 67 in the first round, which should open some doors down the road.

“I don’t have eligibility. I have to go to (Champions) Tour School unless I play into the top 30 or win or something,” he said. “So it’s an emergency.”

It becomes a continual worry for the Montanan.

“I haven’t made any money for four years since I’ve been injured,” he said. “Now you’ve got to come back against these guys. Are you kidding me? That’s a tough row to hoe, I tell you.”

IT’S NOT THE HEAT: The temperature for the first round of the U.S. Senior Open was a seasonal 88 degrees early in the afternoon. But that doesn’t mean it was comfortable for the 156-player field.

Overnight rains combined with the sun and little breeze to turn Inverness Club into a massive sauna. The humidity was so high that it appeared the galleries and players had been doused with a fire hose, so wet was their clothing.

“I was running out of gas coming down the stretch,” said Mark O’Meara, who shot a 66 after flying from the Senior British Open on Sunday to his home in Houston before arriving in Toledo on Wednesday afternoon. “It was hot out there, I’ve got to tell you. When you’re going from last week wearing a sweater to the heat and humidity like it was today, you could cut it with a knife out there.”

Even those with an early tee time weren’t spared the brunt of the oppressive weather.

“The first couple of hours were OK; it was a little cooler and you’re fresh,” defending champ Bernhard Langer said after shooting a 70. “But then as the round goes on it’s a long time out there in the heat. (I was) huffing and puffing at the end.”

Langer was in the sixth group off the tee, early in the morning. Two-thirds of the field played in even higher heat and humidity.

DIVOTS: Citing a bad back, Craig Stadler withdrew just before teeing off and was replaced by Jon Chaffee of Scottsdale, Ariz.. … Bruce Lietzke, who won the only previous U.S. Senior Open at Inverness in 2003, was 8 over par through 13 holes when he walked off the course due to a shoulder injury. … 1986 Senior Open winner Dale Douglass, 75, almost shot his age with a 78. …The toughest hole in the first round was the par-4 16th, 476 yards. Only one birdie was recorded against 54 bogeys, 11 double-bogeys and three “others” … Leader Browne had one of the eight eagles surrendered by the easiest hole, the par-5 fourth.

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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.


TV Times (all times ET):

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