Tseng fires 66 looks for her fourth major

By Associated PressApril 3, 2011, 4:47 am
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Stacy Lewis’ three-shot lead dwindled to a single stroke after just four holes, and it vanished entirely after the turn. Nearly every time Lewis missed an opportunity, Yani Tseng jumped all over her— to the delight of Tseng’s sizable cheering section.

Lewis learned just how tough it’ll be to get between the world’s top-ranked player and a rare repeat victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Tseng roared into the lead with a third-round 66 Saturday, moving two shots ahead of Lewis in the LPGA Tour’s first major of the year.

“I just want to keep smiling all day tomorrow and have a lot of fun,” Tseng said. “I did it before, so I just want to do it again.”

Tseng showed a defending champion’s confidence with her aggressive, powerful play at Mission Hills, shooting the round’s low score to move to 12-under 204. She erased playing partner Lewis’ three-shot lead in the first seven holes before going ahead on the 11th.

After back-to-back birdies to open the back nine, Tseng went ahead for good with her sixth birdie on the 15th. She was a model of ruthless efficiency in a bogey-free round, looking more than capable of earning her second celebratory leap into Poppie’s Pond.

“I played pretty aggressive because I wanted to get over to catch Stacy,” Tseng said. “I love this course because you’re not hitting driver every hole. You have to be smart.”

The talkative 22-year-old from Taiwan also had the backing of about 300 boisterous fans from nearby Beaumont, Calif., where Tseng and her mother lived for about three years while Tseng practiced and attempted to qualify for the tour.

“It was really nice that they came out here and cheered for me,” Tseng said. “I feel very appreciative, because I need a crowd. I need a big crowd here to make me more excited.”

Lewis struggled to keep up in her quest for her first tour victory, managing just two birdies while repeatedly saving par with a steady short game and putter. Even after her lone bogey on the 16th hole, Lewis retained a measure of confidence simply by staying just two strokes back.

“I hit it in the rough all day, just struggling to make pars,” said Lewis, who finished with a 71. “I’m just really glad for it to be over. I got some confidence from it, but it’s really frustrating to be making those putts hole after hole.”

Morgan Pressel (69) was four shots off the lead in third place. Michelle Wie (69) was six strokes back in fourth, staying in the hunt for her first major title.

Tseng is chasing her fourth major title after winning the Kraft Nabisco and the Women’s British Open last year. She has already won four times worldwide this year, but a winning final round at Mission Hills would put her in historic company.

Annika Sorenstam (2001-02) and Canada’s Sandra Post (1978-79) are the only previous back-to-back winners in the 40-year history of the former Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament – and only Sorenstam has done it since the event was designated a major nearly three decades ago.

“These four, five tournaments, I’ve really learned a lot,” said Tseng, who recently bought Sorenstam’s house in Orlando. “I’m not afraid that I’m leading right now. I don’t think too much for tomorrow that I have to win. I just want to enjoy it.”

The first day of the weekend in Palm Springs could evoke a depressingly familiar scenario for Lewis, who lost a second-round lead to Tseng at the Australian Masters just seven weeks ago. Tseng roared ahead Saturday on the Gold Coast and finished strong to win the title, beating Lewis by four strokes in the final round.

“It seems like every time I play with her, she plays like that,” Lewis said. “It’s hard because she seems like she has a chance to make birdie on every hole. It puts pressure on me.”

Tseng, who hit a front-nine drive over 300 yards for the second straight day, and Lewis will be back together Sunday afternoon.

“I think she’s got more pressure on her tomorrow,” Lewis said. “I can just go out there and play.”

After triple-digit temperatures weighed on players during the first two rounds, the heat dropped into the 90s with cloud cover and a mild breeze. Lewis still was sweating even before she removed her Arkansas Razorbacks head cover for her first drive, while Tseng certainly appeared cool and collected.

Wie had another solid day after her opening-round 74, although she also missed a 2-foot putt while making two bogeys. Win or lose, the former child prodigy will be back in class Monday for the spring quarter at Stanford.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in contention here,” said Wie, who made four top-15 finishes at Mission Hills before she turned 17. “It’s a lot of fun. I forgot how fun it was, and I’m really excited to play tomorrow.”

Brittany Lincicome and Jane Park began the third round even with Tseng, but both struggled. Lincicome, the 2009 Kraft Nabisco champion, double-bogeyed the ninth hole in a 74 that put her eight shots off the lead, while Park fell into 10th place with a 76.

Pressel made three straight birdies on the back nine to stay in contention for the title she won in 2007. Hall of Famer and five-time major winner Se Ri Pak shot her second straight 71, putting her 11 strokes off the lead.

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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)