U.S.Eh.

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2011, 2:17 am

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Kris Blanks has been to Vancouver before, usually just to visit his wife’s family, and never with his golf clubs.

The 38-year-old from Georgia is glad he brought the clubs this time.

Blanks shot a 3-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead after a tough first day at the Canadian Open on Thursday.

“When you are traveling with two kids and a suitcase full of Christmas presents the last thing you want to do is drag your golf clubs,” Blanks said.

If Blanks, whose wife Tami is from the Vancouver suburbs, can hang on for his first PGA Tour win, the presents might be a lot bigger on his next trip back to Canada’s west coast. But after only making the cut in half of his 22 events this season, the third-year PGA Tour pro knows there is a lot of golf – and likely a lot of bogeys – left this week.

“I can’t see any day this course is going to be easy,” Blanks said. “It’s definitely going to be national championship style, where pars are good, and when you get in trouble just make sure you don’t get anything over bogey.”

Only 21 players finished under par on the tight, tree-lined Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. Blanks had the best round in the morning, after overnight rain made the tiny greens more receptive. It also made it that much harder to get out of thick rough many players were comparing to U.S. Open conditions.

Matt McQuillan was the lowest of 17 Canadians in the field with a 2-under 68, putting the 30-year-old PGA Tour rookie in a tie with 11 players, including World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els, one shot off the lead.

“This is the way a national open should be,” said Els, who missed his fourth cut in five events at last week’s British Open, and has yet to record a top-10 this season. “It should be played as tough as possible on a very stern test.”

Few players would argue the 7,010-yard course, located on a bank just above the ocean, was anything but, though it did play a little easier in the morning.

Rickie Fowler, Anthony Kim and Lucas Glover – playing together in softer morning conditions – all shot 69 to finish in a group of nine that also included fellow Americans Sean O’Hair, Ben Crane, and Chad Campbell.

O’Hair got to 4 under in the afternoon before bogeys on his final three holes, including the par-5 seventh, which was playing as the easiest on the course.

“With the greens soft, you can stay aggressive, but at the same time that makes the rough healthy,” said Fowler. “This is as easy as it’s going to play.”

Easy wasn't a word being throw around, even though the rough had been trimmed.

“Thickest rough I’ve seen in two years,” Kevin Na said after an early 69.

Luke Donald was happy just to be among 14 players at even par. The world's No.1-ranked golfer double-bogeyed two of his first four holes, but battled back with five birdies, including three straight on his back nine, before a late bogey.

“It was a good grind back after a tough start,” said Donald. “They’re not the widest fairways and the penalty for missing them is very severe. The rough is as thick as we've seen all year and that adds a little pressure on the tee because you know you have to hit the fairway to have a chance to reach the green.”

Woody Austin, who holed out from 121 yards for eagle on No. 16 to get to 3 under, then missed a 15-foot par putt after driving into the rough on 18, didn’t mind.

“You cannot miss the fairway,” Austin said after having to chip out to it on his final hole. “It’s nice in this day and age where the best guy doesn’t win on a regular basis – it’s usually the guy who putts his butt off that wins –  so it’s nice to play a golf course where you know who is playing the best.”

Blanks, who started on No. 10, was actually 1 over through 12 holes, but turned it around with back-to-back birdie putts on the next two. The 38-year-old from Georgia then holed out from the front bunker for an eagle on the 551-yard, par-5 seventh hole – his 16th of the day – to get to 3-under and take the lead.

“We had perfect scoring conditions with a little rain to soften the greens,” he said. “I felt fortunate to get the ball in the fairway and capitalize.”

Blanks hit 11 of 14 fairways, which led to 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

“You definitely have to be on the fairway and if that means laying back off the tee a little more than you normally do, it’s definitely more advantageous to hit a longer club from fairway than hacking out of the rough,” he said.

NOTES: England’s Paul Casey, ranked 15th in the world, opened with a 6-over 76. Canada’s Mike Weir, who has fallen to 475th in the rankings, shot 74. Louis Ooosthuizen, who won the 2010 British Open, was 5 over. … Els is using Dan Quinn, a former NHL player who was once captain of the hometown Vancouver Canucks, as his caddy this week for the first time this year. Quinn, who was seventh at last week’s American Century Championship celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe, was on Els’ bag for half of last season. … Blanks parted ways with his caddy, A.J. Eathorne, a former LPGA player who grew up in British Columbia, in early May. Eathorne and Blanks were introduced by former NHL goalie Grant Fuhr, who also plays a lot of celebrity tour golf.

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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)