Stricker starts strong, Woods bottoms out at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 11, 2011, 1:41 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Steve Stricker had a shot at history and Tiger Woods made some of his own.

Just not the kind he wanted.

What a wild first day at the PGA Championship.

Stricker missed a 10-foot birdie putt at his final hole Thursday, just a hair away from becoming the first player to shoot 62 in a major championship. He had no complaints, though, about settling for a 7-under score and the opening-round lead at Atlanta Athletic Club.

“I realized it was for 62 but didn’t realize it was for history,” Stricker said. “I hit a good putt. It just didn’t go in. All in all, a good day.”

For Woods, a miserable one.

Seemingly spending as much time in water and sand as he did on the green stuff, Woods returned to the major scene with a major thud - a 77 that was his worst round ever at the PGA.

A 15th major title? Forget about it.

Woods will need a major turnaround just to make the cut.

Beyond Stricker and Woods, there was Rory McIlroy banging his hand on an ill-advised shot off a tree root, Ryo Ishikawa spending so much time in the water he needed a snorkel, and two patched-up greens caused by mowers gone wild.

Stricker showed it was possible to go low by keeping the ball in the fairway. He tore up the tough back nine with a 5-under 30 and played a bogey-free round, leaving him two shots ahead of Jerry Kelly among those with morning tee times.

It was the 11th time a player has shot 63 in the year’s final major, and the 25th time overall.

“I really had no expectations coming into today’s round,” the 44-year-old Stricker said. “I didn’t make too many birdies the first three days during the practice rounds. I got off to a good start, and it kind of got me going.”

McIlroy, the U.S. Open champion, got off to a painful start, taking an ill-advised swing at his ball resting against a tree root on the third hole.

He let the 7-iron fall from his hands as soon as he struck the ball, and flexed his wrist in obvious pain. He walked to the next hole holding an ice compress on his arm. Finally, at the fifth, he was checked out by PGA Tour physical therapist Jeff Hendra.

Apparently reassured that he couldn’t hurt it any worse, McIlroy played on. He had the wrist taped up to provide extra support and managed to grind out an even-par 70.

Stricker has never won one of golf’s biggest championships - he’s 0-for-52 - and the Americans are mired in their longest major drought of the modern era.

It’s early, but maybe he’ll take care of both in the same week.

Stricker amazingly made birdies at both the 15th - the longest par-3 on the course - and the 18th, a lengthy par-4 that has water hugging the left side of the fairway and guarding the front of the green.

The Americans sure need a boost. They haven’t won a major since Phil Mickelson triumphed at the 2010 Masters, coming up short at six in a row. During that span, Northern Ireland has captured three championships, South Africa two and Germany one.

Stricker is the highest-ranked American in the world rankings, a spot that used to be controlled by Woods.

Not anymore.

Woods knocked two balls in the water and spent enough time in the bunkers to feel like he was on a beach vacation. The result was predictable: Three double bogeys and five bogeys.

He headed to the clubhouse a colossal 14 strokes off the lead, having put up the same score as 57-year-old Jerry Pate.

“I’m not down,” Woods said. “I’m really angry right now.”

His previous worst round in the PGA was a 75, and the only time he posted a higher score in a major was that 81 in the third round of the British Open, played in awful conditions at Muirfield.

That result was stunning because Woods was in his prime, a superb player in the midst of winning 14 major titles.

Now, he looks like just one of the crowd, at best. Woods hasn’t won a major championship since his stirring playoff win at the 2008 U.S. Open - on a leg that needed major surgery.

Since then, his marriage has fallen apart, his reputation has taken a beating and his game is not the least bit intimidating.

Fully recovered from a leg injury that caused him to miss both the U.S. Open and the British Open, Woods got off to a strong start with birdies on three of the first five holes, briefly grabbing a share of the lead.

Then Bad Tiger showed up again.

The trouble began at the 253-yard 15th, the over-the-top par 3 that is both long and protected by water. Woods went with an iron but it wasn’t quite enough, the ball plopping into the pond that runs along the right side of the hole. He reached down slowly to retrieve his tee and went on to make the first of his double bogeys.

At the 16th, a wild drive led to more problems. Woods landed in a fairway bunker to the right, knocked his approach into the gallery on the left, flopped it into another bunker and settled for a bogey.

Woods took another double bogey at the brutal 18th after plugging his tee shot in, yes, another bunker. He could only gouge it out, found more sand with his third shot and failed to get up-and-down from there.

His momentum totally stymied by a 2-over 37 at the turn, Woods staggered toward the finish. He started the front side with three more bogeys in the first four holes, then dunked another ball in the water at the sixth to set up his third double bogey on a sweltering day in the Deep South.

Woods closed with an appropriate finish. His approach landed in the bunker in front of the ninth green, his blast-out went far past the flag, and he missed the par putt.

At least Woods fared better than Ishikawa, the Japanese star thought to be a contender coming off a strong showing at Firestone last week.

The 19-year-old put six balls in the water and finishing with an 85—pretty much assured of missing the cut before much of the field even got on the course.

Dustin Johnson was looking to make up for a gaffe on the 72nd hole that cost him a chance to win last year’s PGA.

Johnson appeared headed for a three-way playoff at Whistling Straits until the PGA of America pointed out that he grounded his club in a ragged patch of dirt that was actually a bunker.

He had to assess himself a two-stroke penalty, which left Martin Kaymer to beat Bubba Watson for the Wanamaker Trophy.

Johnson has a lot of work to do just to put himself in that position again, opening with a 75.

Kaymer began defense of his title with 72. Watson had a wild round on his way to a 74, stringing together four straight birdies early in the round, then stumbling through five straight bogeys—and a double bogey at the end.

Shaun Micheel, one of the PGA’s most surprising winners in 2003, is at it again. He opened with a 66.

Everyone raved about the condition of the 7,467-yard course in the sprawling suburbs northeast of Atlanta, which was the home club of Bobby Jones and had hosted three previous majors.

But a baffling mishap the evening before left two ugly patches in the 14th and 17th greens.

Apparently, a quick rise in the humidity caused the brushes on two movers to stick in the grass, ripping the impeccable greens. Head groundskeeper Ken Mangum had to bring in sod for a quick patch job and the PGA of America ruled that the affected areas would be treated as ground under repair, allowing golfers to move their ball if it landed there or they had to putt through it.

“We felt like our hearts had been ripped out,” Mangum said. “It’s a little bit like cutting yourself with a razor on your wedding day.”

 

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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)