Pebbles 17th defined by Nicklaus Watson

By Associated PressJune 17, 2010, 12:31 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Walking along the back of the 17th green with wedge in hand, Aaron Baddeley dropped a few balls into the nest of tangled rough under his feet.

His target wasn’t the pin placed on the lower-tier of the hourglass-shaped green during a morning practice round. He was aiming at a white tee implanted near the back, just a few paces from the edge of the putting surface.

It wasn’t a shot Baddeley needed to practice at the time. It was a shot he tried because of the history of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Sometimes lost among the other great holes and picturesque views of Pebble Beach, the par-3 17th and its 200-plus yards of history is forever defined by the 1-iron of Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and the wedge of Tom Watson in 1982.

It’s not worth arguing which was better. Most simply agree that each was remarkable.

“It’s like twofold, because … when you’re sitting there hitting that tee shot, you look over there to the left I always remember seeing that shot on TV that Nicklaus hit the pin,” Steve Stricker said. “And then when you get up on the green, I mean it’s nine times out of 10, I’ll look over there in that spot where (Watson) chipped in from. So you remember both those shots, at least I do, equally.”

Watson and Nicklaus, rivals a generation apart, have yet another link by what they did on the 71st hole of the U.S. Open at Pebble.

Both shots came in the final round. Both are lauded for their remarkable degree of difficultly – Nicklaus pinging the flagstick with a club Lee Trevino once said “not even God can hit,” and Watson telling caddie Bruce Edwards he was about to sink a chip from off the green when bogey seemed inevitable.

Above all, both shots clinched the U.S. Open.

Asked what goes through his mind standing on the 17th tee, Baddeley didn’t bring up the bunkers framing the front and right sides of the green, the distracting Pacific Ocean in the background or the huge mound dividing the green that television shots fail to do justice.

“Tom Watson’s chip-in. Jack Nicklaus hitting the pin with a 1-iron,” he said without hesitation.

Aesthetically, the 17th doesn’t hold the same grandeur as Pebble’s finishing hole, or the others that hug the Pacific coastline. The deep bunkers surround a green that hides a contoured ridge creating two tiers.

If trying to hit the correct tier of the tiny green from more than 200 yards isn’t difficult enough, the prevailing wind is often hidden by the grandstands near the green.

Nicklaus still remembers that wind – angry and in his face – that made it a challenge to even find the green in ’72, let alone nestle his shot just inches from the cup. With the club slightly off in his backswing, Nicklaus made an adjustment as he reached impact. The result was a shot that wrapped up his fourth and final U.S. Open title.

“The shot I performed, I don’t think I could ever do again,” Nicklaus said this week at a clinic for wounded veterans in Washington state. “I had a shot where the wind was howling from left to right and into my face. I didn’t know if I could get it there or not.

“I laced a 1-iron and I was quite content to be in the front bunker because I thought I had a good chance to make a three from the front bunker. I had a couple-of-shot lead. But the ball carried the bunker.”

Watson received a special exemption to play in this Open at age 60. While it wasn’t a condition of his ticket back to Pebble Beach, Watson has spent a few moments standing around the 17th green for pictures with some of his practice partners looking to capture a bit of history.

Watson admitted Wednesday he’s tried to replicate his “lucky shot” – as part of an instructional video he’s creating. He holed the shot again, although he wouldn’t say how many takes it took.

“Nostalgia, I guess it comes at 17th tee or 17th green and 18th tee,” Watson said. “Everybody wants to take a picture, so it kind of reminds me of what happened, what occurred here before. It’s pretty sweet, pretty nice.”

Young and old alike, everyone knows the history of the two shots at 17 that won the first two Opens played at Pebble Beach. Amateur qualifier Andrew Putnam was nearly two decades from being born when Nicklaus hit the stick in ’72.

Baddeley was barely a year old when Watson hit his tee shot over the green, confidently relayed his plan to Edwards, then followed through with a birdie that left Nicklaus stunned in the clubhouse in the middle of a TV interview.

During his practice round Monday, Fred Funk asked the gallery at 17 if anyone saw Nicklaus’ shot in person. Funk saw just shaking heads, but everyone knew what he was asking.

The 17th failed to be a factor in 1992 and 2000. Tom Kite’s magical moment came on the seventh hole, while Tiger Woods needed no luck running away with his 15-shot win.

Video archives help keep alive the history of what the 17th meant for Nicklaus and Watson. For the duo, the two shots remain vivid. Nicklaus considered it one of three great 1-irons in his career.

“It was a pretty good shot,” he said.

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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.”