Watney fires 64 leads Players Championship

By Associated PressMay 12, 2011, 11:13 pm
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Phil Mickelson hit a shot onto the green and it rolled into the water. Ben Crane hit a shot over an island and it wound up on dry land. Tiger Woods played the shortest tournament of his career.

Even on a relatively calm day, there’s no predicting what might happen at The Players Championship.

The strangest sight of all Thursday was Woods, limping off the ninth green and heading to the parking lot, but not before making a detour to a fitness trailer with a sign painted on the side that said, “Is knee pain holding you back?”

Nine holes into this first tournament since the Masters – where Woods said he had a “minor injury” to his left knee and Achilles – he couldn’t go on. He withdrew after a 42 on the front nine, his highest 9-hole score ever at the TPC Sawgrass.

“I’m having a hard time walking,” he said.

Nick Watney and so many others made it look easy, even though it rarely is on this crazy course.

One week after he missed the cut for the first time in nearly a year, Watney opened with an 8-under 64 for a one-shot lead over Lucas Glover. Not only was it Watney’s best score at Sawgrass by four shots, he had a double bogey early in his round.

“Last week in Charlotte, I got off to a bad start and I never really righted the ship,” Watney said. “So today to have a bad hole like that and still play a good round is a rewarding feeling, just because I didn’t let it affect the rest of my day.”

Glover atop the leaderboard was not unusual, not after he won last week at the Wells Fargo Championship to end a two-year drought since his U.S. Open title. He played the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th in eight shots, but not the way he would have thought. He hit into the water on the 16th to make bogey on the easiest hole at Sawgrass, then knocked in a 20-foot birdie on the island-green 17th.

There were plenty of other surprises.

Mark O’Meara, the 54-year-old who qualified for this prestigious event by winning the Senior Players Championship, returned to Sawgrass for the first time since 2003 and opened with a 66.

The last time O’Meara had a score that low on this course, Woods was still in high school. He’s not very long off the tee, but this is one golf course that is not all about length.

“Even when I went to dinner with Tiger last night, my wife Meredith said, ‘How’s Mark hitting it?’ He says, ‘Short.’ OK, yeah, I’m not 32 and strong,” O’Meara said. “But I hit it far enough.”

Davis Toms also had a 66, and he managed to do that without a single bogey on his card.

PGA champion Martin Kaymer, who can return to No. 1 in the world by winning or finishing alone in second this week, opened with a 67 along with U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory Sabbatini. Kaymer was witness to the biggest news of the day.

He was in the group with Matt Kuchar and Woods, although it became a twosome on the back nine when Woods left.

“Nobody really knows how much pain he was in,” Kaymer said. “He was walking really slowly. He was walking behind us. But I didn’t know that it was because of pain or I just thought that he walks a little slower than me.”

Crane shot a 68, a round highlighted because of a bogey.

On the infamous island-green 17th, Crane caught a gust of wind as the ball was in flight and it took over the green. But the ball landed on the back of the wooden frame and bounced so far that it cleared the water and landed among the spectators. He then faced a scary pitch back to the island and hit the bulkhead in about the same spot, the ball rolling to the front of the green.

He two-putted from 50 feet for his bogey, which could have been much worse.

“A crazy day, a crazy game,” Crane said.

Mickelson might have chosen a different word. He saw his tee shot land on the front corner of the green at No. 13, then begin rolling toward the bottom shelf until it dropped over the ledge.

“I didn’t know it could possibly go in the water,” Mickelson said after a 71. “I think when I design golf courses, I try not to screw the player like that. I try to keep it a little bit fair. But those things happen.”

Fortunes can turn quickly, as Watney showed.

He was never in the hunt at Quail Hollow and never looked particularly happy. But he was grinning and laughing with swing coach Butch Harmon on the range, and he came out firing.

“I was definitely disappointed,” Watney said. “But I figured there were two ways to react – you either sulk about it or come here. I flew here Saturday, did a little bit of work Sunday, just figured I’d get on with it and use it as motivation.”

He holed a 15-foot putt on the 10th hole, got up-and-down from the bunker on the par-5 11th and nearly holed his approach on the 12th. Then came the 14th, where Watney was caught in the large mounds right of the fairway. He chopped up one shot and three-putted from medium range for a double bogey, then bounced back with a birdie on the next hole.

His highlight came on the par-5 second, when he holed out a bunker shot for eagle.

Glover also made birdie on his first hole, which doesn’t mean much over the course of four days, but meant plenty to him.

“Got things going,” Glover said. “Just the confidence from last week, from looking up and seeing the ball where I’m looking instead of not. And that’s been an issue.”

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 11:00 am

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)

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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.”