Notes: Couples concerned with Tiger's health, not game

By Associated PressJune 1, 2011, 10:04 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio - Fred Couples says the only thing that will keep Tiger Woods ’ from dominating again and breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record in the major is his knee.

“At Tiger’s age, I’m more concerned about his body than his game,” Couples said Wednesday at the Memorial. “His game will come back. But it’s hard to come back when you’ve got knee problems and hip problems and Achilles problems and all that stuff.”

Couples knows what it’s like to play injured.

The former Masters champion and No. 1 player in golf first began suffering from back pain in 1994, and it has bothered him ever since. Even now, Couples is aching so much that after the Memorial, he might not play again until the U.S. Senior Open at the end of July.

But he says a left knee, especially one that’s been through four surgeries, is much different.

“I couldn’t imagine not being able to use my left knee to play golf,” Couples said. “I think it’s basically impossible to do what you used to do. And in golf, that’s the toughest thing.”

Couples said it can be tough to try to reclaim the No. 1 position - in golf or any other sport - because it can be a mental drain. He figures Woods is the only player who is strong enough between the ears to handle that.

“For him, that won’t be the problem. It’ll be this knee issue,” Couples said. “I don’t think he swings violent at it. I don’t think he does anything different than Charl Schwartzel when they swing. I just think his knee is a little tender and he’s got to get it right so he can come out and start to play every day feeling good.”


PRESIDENTS CUP PLANS: When he agreed to be Presidents Cup captain again, Fred Couples jokingly sent Woods a text telling him to play his way onto the team so he won’t have to be a pick.

Given the fact Woods has missed two tournaments already with left leg issues, and had to withdraw from another after nine holes, it might not be a joke. Couples isn’t worried, though. He figures if Woods isn’t good enough to make the team in September, or doesn’t feel healthy enough to play the matches in Australia in November, he’ll let Couples know.

“If he’s not ready to play, he’ll be the one to tell me, ‘Don’t waste your pick on me,”’ Couples said. “I don’t even know how much he’ll play, but he doesn’t have to prove a lot to any captain.”

Couples will be playing the week before the Presidents Cup at the Australian Open, and he said his two captain’s picks also will be in Sydney with him. Doesn’t that mean Woods will have to play the Australian Open if he’s a pick?

“Well, if he wants to play, yeah,” Couples said. “If I pick two people and the other guy is there, he should be there.”

There’s some wiggle room there, however.

Woods’ camp was irritated when the Australian Masters, where he played the last two years, had its date on the schedule taken away and given to the Australian Open. The Aussie Masters is run by IMG, however. Woods’ agent is no longer with IMG, and odds are Woods won’t be with the agency much longer.

Couples said all he wants is for his players to be competing somewhere before the Presidents Cup. That could be the Singapore Open (where Phil Mickelson will play) or another event in the region.


A GREEN JACKET AND BLACK TIE: Masters champions are allowed to take their green jacket home with them while they hold the title, and Charl Schwartzel is taking it with him wherever he goes.

“If you get to keep it only for a year and then leave it, you’ve got to pretty much enjoy it,” Schwartzel said. “No point leaving it if you’re only going to see it every two months.”

He brought it with him to the Memorial, even if just to look at it in the closet.

The last time he wore it in public was at Wentworth last week at the BMW PGA Championship, when the European Tour had an awards dinner and asked him to wear his prize.

One problem: It was a black-tie dinner.

“And I’m dressed up in a green jacket,” Schwartzel said. “Most people thought I was a waiter.”


MICKELSON’S NEW WEAPON: Mickelson is working on a new 2-iron to take to the U.S. Open at Congressional in two weeks.

It’s really not new - he’s had it for about six years. But he thinks he has it just about right.

“It hadn’t quite worked right until I bent it, tweaked it a little bit. Now it feels pretty dialed in,” Mickelson said. “I’ve been experimenting the last few weeks trying to get the right 2-iron that flies about 255 or so off the tee, which is kind of what I’m gunning for. I think this one is dialed in just right.”

In a slight change, Mickelson has decided not to play the St. Jude Classic the week before the U.S. Open. Instead, he will go to Congressional next week to get in his practice.


CADDIE CHANGE: In what appears to be a game of musical chairs with caddies and players, the biggest change is Joe LaCava no longer on the bag for Couples. Instead, LaCava is working for Dustin Johnson .

Couples had encouraged him to find another bag, mainly because Couples was on the less lucrative Champions Tour and not playing much this year because of a bad back. So when Johnson’s bag became open, LaCava took it.

“He’s been a great caddie. He’s caddied for a lot of great players,” Couples said.

Couples said it might be difficult early on for LaCava to get the right club for Johnson, mostly because Johnson is one of the longest hitters in golf. He also thinks LaCava will be good at knowing when to tell Johnson to scale back, and not hit driver.

“Other than that, I have a lot of respect for Joe,” Couples said. “I think he’s done a phenomenal job, and I hope he stays with him a while, because I’m not taking him back.”

They won’t be separated very long. Couples and Johnson are playing together the first two rounds, along with Nick Watney .

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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)