Stricker defends at John Deere Classic

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2010, 12:18 am

2006 John Deere Classic

SILVIS, Ill. – As well as he’s been playing lately, Steve Stricker believes that even better days are ahead.

With his second straight victory in the John Deere Classic on Sunday, Stricker has two victories this year and another $792,000 in the bank. He can face the many challenges in the British Open at St. Andrews this week with confidence.

At 43, Stricker has a good thing going. For starters, he’s ranked No. 4 in the world.

“My confidence level has been building since 2006,” Stricker said. “That season was a good season for me and it’s progressively gotten better. I believe I’m a better player today than I was four or five years ago.

“But I also believe that I can get better and that’s what excites me, because I still feel like there’s things that I can improve on and get better at.”

For now, he’s content with another Deere title, especially after he had to work so hard on the final day to get it.

Ahead by seven strokes early in the round, he saw his lead over Paul Goydos dwindle to just two with five holes to play. But he maintained it the rest of the way, thanks largely to a critical birdie putt on No. 17, and closed with a 1-under 70,

“It was a tough day,” Stricker sighed. “I’m glad it worked out.”

For a while, he had to be wondering if it would.

He certainly didn’t display the type of precision he had shown in the first three rounds while setting a PGA Tour scoring record for 54 holes. But he showed the resolve he needed down the stretch, when he made just enough shots to hold on.

“I wasn’t the same player as I was for three days for sure,” he said. “You’re just afraid to make a mistake and it’s hard to play golf that way. I thought I got off to a good start. I wasn’t backing down. I was coming out to try to make birdies right away.

“For some reason, it just kind of changed and I don’t know why.”

Stricker endured the same kind of final round in his other victory this year, the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in February. He took a six-stroke lead into the final 18 holes of that tournament, and like this one, ended up winning by two.

“I reflected back to Northern Trust a lot,” Stricker said. “It was pretty much the same scenario. I just kept doing my thing, tried not to make a mistake, tried to put it in the smart side of the green, give myself a putt at it and force the guy to come and make birdies and try to catch me.

“I just didn’t want to hand him a shot here or there and give it away.”

Stricker finished at 258 – 26 under and a record for the tournament. Goydos, who dazzled the golf world with a 59 in the opening round, shot a solid 66 that on many other days would have been good enough for a victory.

But he simply had too much ground to make up.

“Strick was hard to catch,” Goydos said. “I tried and kept pushing and chipping and grinding and biting at him and doing what I could. But in the end, the putt he made on 17 was a world-class putt. That’s what top-five players do, that’s what Ryder Cup players do.”

Goydos did receive a nice consolation prize. His second-place finish qualified him for the British Open, so he joined Stricker and about two dozen others from the tournament on the two jets Deere officials chartered to fly them directly to Scotland.

Stricker started Sunday’s round with a six-shot lead and quickly bumped it to seven with a 7-foot birdie putt on the first hole. But he had to battle through the rest of the round before essentially sealing his victory at the 17th.

After driving into the trees right of the fairway for the second straight day, Stricker punched out to 91 yards, right in front of the green, then knocked a sand wedge to six feet. Measuring the putt carefully, Stricker tapped the ball and as fans yelled “Get in the hole,” it dropped.

“I told myself you can make this and you need to make this,” he said. “I look back at some of the big putts that I’ve made and there’s nothing to be scared of and I rolled it in. So that was a big putt. To go into the last hole with two shots instead of one was huge.”

Goydos also birdied 17 to stay two behind, but his last hope died when he hit into the water on 18. Stricker bogeyed the hole after hitting a tree with his tee shot, but it didn’t matter – he was a champion again.

“After I hit the tree, my objective was just to get it down there where I could get my third shot on the green and make a 5 and force him to make a birdie,” Stricker said. “I don’t have to make it, it doesn’t have to be pretty. I just wanted to win and fortunately, it worked out.”

Now it’s on to St. Andrews for a difficult course and, if conditions don’t improve, some nasty weather.

“It’s a tough turnaround,” Stricker said. “But I’ve got to get out there and get some golf under my belt and try to learn a few things.”

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Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

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Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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