Notes Mother Nature does damage Sunday Forecast

By Associated PressMay 15, 2011, 5:31 am
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Ian Poulter sprinted from the 17th tee to the famed island green, pulled the flag stick and lined up his putt.

A minute later, he was off again, running to his bag, grabbing two clubs and then hustling to No. 18. He yelled ahead to Phil Mickelson and Martin Laird, clearing the path for another tee shot.

No doubt, Poulter wanted to get done before dark.

And he did.

Poulter’s frantic finish offered an entertaining ending to the third round Saturday at The Players Championship. It certainly will be replayed on highlight shows everywhere. But Poulter did it for a more selfish reason.

“A little 300-yard sprint is well worth four hours in bed,” Poulter said.

Indeed, Poulter’s push allowed him and playing partner Dustin Johnson to complete the third round and avoid resuming play at 7:45 a.m. Sunday, an early start that would have meant a 5:30 wake-up call.

“I think quite a few guys in that situation would have done exactly the same thing,” Poulter said.

Poulter bogeyed the final hole to shoot 2-over 74 in the third round and wound up even for the tournament. But his scramble over the final two holes was the talk of TPC Sawgrass.

Poulter and Johnson chatted about trying to finish the round on the 16th tee. With darkness setting in and the sound of the horn only minutes away, Poulter took it upon himself to make it happen. He knew that if someone in his group teed off before the horn, they would be allowed to finish the final hole. So he ran from tee to green, then green to tee, just to get it done.

Poulter and Johnson essentially ended up playing No. 18 with Mickelson and Laird.

“We knew when we teed off (Saturday afternoon following a rain delay) it was always going to be close,” Poulter said. “We figured we could get to 17, 18. We were talking about it the whole way around, ‘What is the time, what is the time, how much longer do we have?’ Yeah, it was close.”


RAIN DAMAGE: Although the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass drains exceptionally well, wind and heavy rain did a little damage to the par-5 16th during the third round Friday.

A tree toppled to the ground near the tee box, and the pin location had to be moved a couple of feet because of damage to the hole.

“That’s pretty unusual, but not unheard of,” said Mark Russell, vice president of rules and competition. “If the hole gets damaged, let’s say somebody hit a shot in there and took the side of the lip out and you couldn’t repair it, you’d have to move the hole. That’s happened before. I mean, we didn’t change where it was but like this (far), so the players are still playing the same thing.”

Russell didn’t tell players or caddies about the new hole location. He didn’t feel like he needed to because it was such a minor change. No players complained, either.

“We didn’t change the depth of it or the distance, just cut them a new hole,” Russell said. “I would think it would be more exciting playing a new hole than one that’s damaged.”


FINAL FORECAST: Sunday’s forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms in the morning, with a slight chance of rain the rest of the day. So PGA Tour officials expect to get the third and final rounds finished without any problems.

The third round will resume at 7:45 a.m., with officials expecting to need about three hours to complete play. Golfers will be back on the Stadium Course at 11:30 a.m., teeing off the final round in threesomes from the front and back nines. The leaders are expected to tee off around 1:42 p.m., with plenty of daylight remaining to play 18 holes.

“We’re going to have some beautiful weather tomorrow,” Russell said. “Low to mid 80s and less humidity, so it should be a great final day.”


OLDIES, BUT GOODIES: Kenny Perry, Mark O’Meara and Corey Pavin have represented the Champions Tour well against their younger counterparts at The Players Championship.

Perry, the youngest of the trio at 50, shot a 4-under 68 in the third round and moved to 5 under for the tournament. He struggled with his putter the first two days and was thrilled to make the cut. He switched to a belly putter and made five birdies.

“I played nicely,” he said. “Could have done something special with the putter. The putter’s kind of been holding me back a little bit. I didn’t miss any short ones today like I’ve been doing the first two rounds.”

O’Meara, playing The Players for the first time since 2003, made the cut for the first time since 2000. The 54-year-old O’Meara was 1 over Saturday through 13 holes and 3 under for the tournament when play was halted because of darkness.

Pavin was 2 over through 16 holes and 1 under for the tournament.

Perry said all three take a lot of pride in being able to compete with the youngsters.

“That’s what carries you this long in your career,” Perry said. “Realistically, do we think we can win like when we were kids? Probably not. We have a lot of fun.”

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

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 11:00 am

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)

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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.”