USGA debuts longer tougher Congressional CC

By Associated PressJuly 24, 2010, 5:15 am

BETHESDA, Md. – The Blue Course at Congressional Country Club is longer, tougher and not far from championship condition after a massive renovation that included rebuilding all 18 greens.

USGA officials showed off Congressional Friday, five weeks after it reopened and 11 months before it hosts next year’s U.S. Open.

The new greens are soft and slow – a concession to the scorching temperatures on the East Coast this summer – but Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, said the reconstruction will allow them to play firmer and faster than in previous events at Congressional.

The Blue Course hosted the 1997 U.S. Open and the PGA Tour’s AT&T National from 2007-2009.

Congressional, not the USGA, decided to rebuild the greens just two years before the Open, which Davis admitted made him nervous. The surfaces won’t have much time to mature, and any setbacks could have been disastrous.

“That is a short window,” Davis said. “Thankfully, they did such a superb job of construction.”

Congressional superintendent Mike Giuffre and his staff used global-positioning technology to replicate the existing contours. Players are unlikely to notice any differences, although Giuffre made subtle changes on several greens to allow for a wider variety of hole locations.

Ben Brundred Jr., co-chairman of Congressional’s U.S. Open committee, declined to say how much the changes cost. He did say that members paid to rebuild the greens and that all other costs were split between Congressional and the USGA.

The drastic move to rebuild all 18 greens was necessary, Giuffre said, to improve drainage and rid the greens of troublesome poa annua grass – which doesn’t hold up well during the Washington area’s sweltering summers. The new greens are a hybrid bentgrass with a deeper root structure.

Giuffre said he was still “babying” the greens by allowing the grass to get shaggy in the heat. “All in all, these young greens are holding up very well,” he said.

Davis has been hailed for bringing creativity back into the Open and rewarding aggressive shotmaking since he took over as the USGA’s setup guru in 2006. He hopes to continue that trend at Congressional.

The 6th hole, which played as a par 4 during the 1997 Open and the AT&T National, will be a reachable par 5 for the Open, meaning Congressional will play to a par of 71.

“We think it’s a better par 5. There’s much more risk-reward,” Davis said. “We get accused of taking 5’s and making them 4’s.”

Still, Congressional will have plenty of teeth, playing to 7,568 yards – more than 300 yards longer than in 1997. Davis installed new tees on seven holes, including the dramatic, downhill par-4 18th, which will play at 521 yards, forcing players to hit a mid-iron or more into the green.

The 18th played as No. 17 during the 1997 Open and turned out to be the decisive hole when Tom Lehman hit into the pond left of the green, leading to bogey. Ernie Els made par and won his second Open.

Congressional’s finishing hole until 2006 was a pedestrian par 3, but the hole has since been rebuilt and turned into No. 10.

USGA officials “let it be known that they would love to come back, but they didn’t want to finish on a par 3 again,” Brundred said.

The rest of the changes are subtle, intended to alter sight lines from the tee and bring more hazards into play. Davis moved, added or eliminated some fairway bunkers, including one on the brutal, uphill par-4 11th that prevented some balls from finding the creek down the right side.

“We think it’s a better golf course to test the greatest players in the world,” said Thomas J. O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “We applaud the club and thank them for having the initiative and the vision to go ahead and make those changes.”

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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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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match-play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the latter when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and [the championship] needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. The Wildcats were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed only to be inside the top eight after 72 holes to advance to the match-play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match-play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a hell of a ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, gnarly rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore missed her birdie putt and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite a while but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot - that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.