All thats left is the golf

By Doug FergusonOctober 1, 2010, 2:00 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Good thing for the Americans the Ryder Cup ultimately comes down to golf shots, not style points.

U.S. captain Corey Pavin, his voice unsteady at the opening ceremony Thursday, introduced the 11 players on his squad and was about to sit down when he realized each team had 12 to a side.

He overlooked Stewart Cink, one of his captain’s picks.

Then came the lineups for the opening session, with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the third slot. It was the first time since 1999 that Woods was not in the first match, leading European captain Colin Montgomerie to suggest the Americans were trying to hide him.

Leading off for the Americans in fourballs is Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, a big hitter whose driver broke on the range.

Asked if Europe already felt it was 1-up based on Pavin’s gaffe, Montgomerie said:

“I suppose that was a mistake. He just missed the one. He read the wrong name, but that was just unfortunate. I think he was very, very good in covering his tracks. It went very well. It was a first-class show up there.

“And yes,” he added, “we are 1 up.”

Europe had other reasons to feel confident about winning back the Ryder Cup when the matches get under way Friday. It has not lost on its home soil since 1993, and the crowd can play such a huge role in golf’s biggest bipartisan event.

It was evident on the final day of practice, when fans gave a standing ovation from the bleachers behind the greens on the back nine of Celtic Manor just at the sight of the European players approaching the green.

By Sunday, all that matters are the points on the board.

The Americans, who won two years ago at Valhalla to end a decade of European dominance, need only 14 points from the 28 matches to take the 17-inch gold trophy back home.

“I cannot wait,” said Ian Poulter, who will join Ross Fisher in taking on the Woods-Stricker tandem. “This crowd tomorrow is going to be electric. The roar on that first tee will be sensational. I can’t wait to hear it and I can’t wait to get pumped for it. I can’t wait to give them some feedback.”

The big mystery was the weather.

Celtic Manor already is lush and soggy from rain in recent weeks, and the forecast is for more rain and blustery wind for most of the day. And while Montgomerie said he didn’t try to alter the setup, it has become clear that the best strategy is to play out of the short grass.

This is one of the longest American teams in history. But the straightest?

They should find out immediately with a compelling match – Mickelson and Johnson, who play big-money games just about every week on tour, going against Lee Westwood and PGA champion Martin Kaymer, Europe’s best player and its most recent major champion.

For Westwood, it will be his first competition in six weeks while he recovered from a calf injury. Playing his seventh Ryder Cup, he went to Montgomerie a few days ago and asked to be in the leadoff match.

Montgomerie had thought about U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy leading off.

“It was just seen that Lee should hit the first shot,” Montgomerie said. “I think it’s a real honor to do that, and I’ve had that honor twice. And it’s only right that Lee Westwood at this time should have that.”

McDowell and McIlroy, the duo from Northern Ireland, play in the second match against Georgia Tech alums Cink and Matt Kuchar. For now, that deprives fans of a McIlroy-Woods match of any form. McIlroy had said he would “love to face” Woods, and Woods countered with a no-nonsense “Me, too,” that stirred Ryder Cup tensions.

Stricker is the 12th partner for Woods in this event – two short of the Ryder Cup record. But everyone saw this one coming. They went 4-0 at the Presidents Cup last year, the first tandem in any cup to do that in 30 years.

“Hopefully, Tiger and I can go out there and do the things that we know how to do,” Stricker said. “And, hopefully, it’s good enough for a win.”

Montgomerie stoked speculation, however, by feigning surprise that Woods was in the middle of the lineup.

“I was expecting Tiger to go first or fourth,” he said. “I think Tiger being hidden is a different move. But, as we all know, every point is important wherever it might be. It’s a very difficult game, mind you, probably the two best putters on the U.S. team.”

He was even more surprised to see Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton – a pair of rookies whom many consider the most likely affected by Ryder Cup nerves – in the final spot against Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald.

In doing so, Pavin sat out Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

Furyk is the only American with three victories this year, including his $11.35 million payoff for winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup on Sunday.

“He’s been counting the money, and he’s been very tired,” Pavin said with a laugh.

Mahan went unbeaten in all five matches at his Ryder Cup debut two years ago. Pavin said only that four players have to sit, and he planned to get all 12 a match on Friday.

“If you have any better suggestions, I’d love to hear them,” he said. “I guess it’s a little too late for those suggestions.”

Nothing matters now.

Starting Friday, it’s all about winning holes, winning matches, putting up points. The morning fourballs are to be followed by four alternate-shot matches in the afternoon.

Montgomerie made it clear how badly he wants to get his team in front quickly, putting his best two teams at the top of the lineup.

“My goal is to lead Friday evening if at all possible,” he said. “It’s all set up for that. That’s the plan.”

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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)