Notes: Woods looking good; No. 1 Donald feels overlooked

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2011, 11:40 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Tiger Woods snuck in a quick nine holes Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the PGA Championship, his first major since the Masters.

Woods, paired with Arjun Atwal at the Atlanta Athletic Club, was joined by teacher Sean Foley – who was adjusting and tweaking his star pupil’s stance and swing throughout the round. Woods hasn’t won a tournament since November 2009 and hasn’t won a major since the U.S. Open three years ago.

Atwal, though, said Woods is closing in on the swing that’s won him 14 major titles in his career.

“He looked good,” Atwal said. “He’s really flushing it and got that sound again. He just needs more repetitions.”

Woods was surrounded by security guards after his round and did not speak to reporters. He has a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.

He returned last week from a knee injury, tying for 37th at the WGC-Bridgestone.

Woods was easy-going with the large gallery that followed him over the front nine and took mobile phone photos at nearly every turn. He smiled at a little girl walking to the seventh tee and answered, “What’s up?” after she called his name. He signed autographs for eager fans following the round.

When Atwal accidently hit Woods in the leg with an easy practice chip, he asked, “Was that the bad leg?”

“It is now,” Woods responded with a smile.

Woods hurt his knee at the Masters this past April, then withdrew from The Players Championship after nine holes a month later when the pain got to be too much. He said he wouldn’t compete again until he was fully healthy. Woods started with a 68 at Bridgestone, then gradually fell from contention.

The PGA Championship is the 35-year-old Woods’ final chance this year to edge closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

OVERLOOKED NO. 1: Luke Donald wonders what a No. 1 golfer has to do to get a little TV coverage.

He joked that TV cameras don’t spent much time with their lenses on him, despite the Englishman owning the top spot in the world rankings for the 11th week. “I understand that when I’m in the U.S., being a player from England, I’m not going to get as much support,” he said Tuesday at the PGA Championships.

Donald could up his Q-rating with a victory this week at the Atlanta Athletic Club. He won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February and added a pair of wins in Europe at the Barclays Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship. He was also runner-up three times this season, including last week at the WGC-Bridgestone.

Donald took over the No. 1 ranking in May with his victory at the BMW, beating fellow Englishman and good friend Lee Westwood in a playoff.

Donald played his college golf in the United States, winning an NCAA individual championship at Northwestern in 1999. He knows success in a major brings people attention, like young Rory McIlroy received after winning the U.S. Open last June. Donald tied for fourth at the Masters, but has struggled since then with a 45th at the U.S. Open before missing the cut at the British.

Donald said his strong showing at Bridgestone last week gives him confidence he can contend throughout the season’s final major. Still, Donald accepts he probably won’t match the TV time enjoyed this week by Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or McIlroy.

“Some personalities attract more attention and media,” Donald said. “I’m not kind of one of those. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

BACK IN THE PEACH STATE: Charl Schwartzel wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen the last time he teed it up for a major tournament in Georgia. That changed after the 26-year-old South African’s stunning victory at the Masters last April.

Schwartzel says that win kicked up his confidence in majors. That’s apparent with his performances since then, tying for ninth at the U.S. Open and for 16th at the British Open.

“You know, after the win at the Masters, I just feel like every time I enter one of these major championships that I can compete in them and get a win out of them,” he said. “I think you can see why the last couple of majors I’ve played in.”

Schwartzel was four strokes behind Rory McIlroy in the final round at Augusta National. But he outlasted the field with birdies on the final four holes to take the green jacket. He said the next few weeks were a swirl of attention and recognition. But as the season has gone on, some of that has faded for Schwartzel.

“I don’t know if I’ve just gotten used to it, but I think things have settled down a little bit,” he said.

Schwartzel played an early practice round at the Atlanta Athletic Club and found course conditions outstanding. He said the greens are just about as fast as Augusta National, which he thinks suits his putting stroke and his chances to add the PGA Championship to his majors list.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt to return to the Peach State. It “gives you a little feel of good memories,” Schwartzel said. “The course is completely different, but there’s things to take out of it, being back here.”

DIVOTS: Bryce Molder was playing a few practice chips on the par-3 seventh hole when he said hello to the small group sitting in the shade. One fan asked if Molder wanted them to stay quiet or get loud as he hit. “I won’t be able to hear you for all the demons I got in my own head,” he said. Molder has missed the cut in half of the 22 PGA Tour events he’s played in. … University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small wasn’t offering any golf tips to his practice partners Tuesday. He played with PGA Tour standouts Steve Stricker, Scott Verplank and Jerry Kelly. Small is playing in his seventh PGA Championship. His best showing is a 69th place in 2007. … Webb Simpson used a hybrid to ace the 264-yard, par-3 15th hole on Tuesday.

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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)