Course record at stake at the Old Course
His wife, Sarah, made a sterling silver scorecard of his record round that Strange hangs on the wall in his office.
But it’s not in an official record book. Brian Davis matched the 62 in the Dunhill Links Championship in 2003. That doesn’t count, either.
The St. Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course, has thrown out previous records because the Old Course has been lengthened. The official course record is 64 by Bradley Dredge in the 2006 Dunhill, matched last year by Mikko Ilonen.
“I’m disappointed,” Strange said. “But in my mind, it’s a wonderful memory for me. As far as I’m concerned, I still have it. And until someone shoots 61, the course record belongs to me.”
It was a peculiar decision, considering that golf and its courses continue to evolve. Augusta National now measures 7,435 yards, yet the home of the Masters still recognizes its course record as the 63 that Nick Price shot in 1986 and Greg Norman matched in 1996. In both years, the course was 6,925 yards.
Raymond Floyd shot a 63 at Southern Hills in the 1982 PGA Championship when it was 6,862 yards. Tiger Woods tied the course record with a 63 in the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship when the course was 7,131 yards. Both remain course records.
“I think that’s a little shortsighted,” Southern Hills head pro Dave Bryan said Tuesday of the St. Andrews decision. “The course is longer, but the equipment more than makes up for that. It’s a moot point.”
Not according to the St. Andrews Links Trust.
Trust spokesman Mike Woodcock said the 62s were thrown out when Old Course was lengthened – by 164 yards – for the 2005 British Open. Tiger Woods established the course record in the first round with a 66 in the ’05 Open, replaced by David Frost and his 65 in the second round, and by Dredge a year later in the Dunhill.
“The course was lengthened in 2005 for The Open, fairly substantially in one or two instances,” Woodcock said. “The decision was that the next low score would be the record.”
Asked about the changes in equipment to match the longer courses – and how Augusta National and other major courses have left their records in tact – Woodstock said, “It is a difficult one. The only measure you can take is the length of the course.”
The Old Course has been lengthened again, with a new tee on the 17th making it 40 yards longer at 495 yards. With other subtle changes, the official card will be 7,305 yards. That’s a whopping 26 yards longer than in 2005.
It’s possible the course record could be established Thursday. Woodcock wasn’t sure, and some of that depends on the whether the R&A uses the new tee on the 17th.
Davis, meanwhile, took the news in stride.
“Just one of those things,” he said Tuesday. “I can understand why there’s a new course record. It’s completely different. It’s hard to relate back in time. I’ll just have to qualify for the Open and get the new record.”
ANTHONY KIM: Two months after surgery to repair ligament damage in his left thumb, Anthony Kim was cleared to practice Tuesday.
Kim, who won the AT&T National two years ago, was hitting wedges at his home in Dallas. A spokesman said doctors were encouraged by his progress, although he didn’t set a date for his return. The British Open is definitely out.
Chris Armstrong, his agent at IMG, said Kim hopes to return in time for the Canadian Open on July 22-25, and at least be back in time for the PGA Championship and the playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
Kim has dropped only one spot in the Ryder Cup standings, to No. 3, despite missing the last two months. Zach Johnson (Colonial) and Bubba Watson (Travelers) are the only Americans to have won tournaments during his absence. His is No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings.
BRITISH OPEN HOPES: Justin Rose had signed up for the 36-hole British Open qualifier that was played Tuesday on four links courses in Scotland. Thanks to his last two PGA Tour events, Rose is virtually a lock to play St. Andrews.
Two spots have been set aside for the top players (not already exempt) from a cumulative money list that includes The Players Championship and five successive PGA Tour events through the AT&T National. Rose won the Memorial and tied for ninth last week in the Travelers Championship, putting him atop that money list with $1.236 million.
Right behind is Travelers winner Bubba Watson at just over $1.1 million. They are likely to earn the two spots.
Rickie Fowler is the next eligible player on the special money list at $747,750, followed by Ricky Barnes at $625,945 and Davis Love III at $600,565. Those three players could finish second at the AT&T National and move past Watson, who is not playing this week.
The British Open also offers a spot this week and at the John Deere Classic next week to the leading player among the top five and ties, provided they are not already eligible.
A DIFFERENT ROAD: The North Carolina-based eGolf Professional Tour is designed to help young players make their way to the big leagues, paying the entry fee to PGA Tour qualifying for the top 20 players on its money list.
Chris Baker’s road has taken an unexpected turn.
Baker was runner-up in Golf in Morocco Classic in Columbia, S.C., the last week in March, earning him an all-expenses trip to the Moroccan Golf Classic in Casablanca for a Challenge Tour event. When the tournament finally was played two weeks ago – it was postponed in April because of travel delays from the volcanic ash – Baker closed with a 68 for a two-shot victory.
That gave Baker a one-year exemption on the Challenge Tour, and the top 20 on the money list earn exempt cards for the European Tour. With his victory, and a tie for 35th last week in Spain, Baker is 15th on the money list.
“I am definitely going to continue to pursue my European Tour card on the Challenge Tour,” Baker said. “As an American golfer, this is a rare opportunity to be able to pursue.”
DIVOTS: Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa are among those who have signed up for the Scottish Open in Loch Lomond next week. … Mark Woodward has resigned as chief executive of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Rhett Evans, the chief operating officer, will replace him on an interim basis.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are the only two players in the last two years to win a PGA Tour event and lead the field in driving distance.
FINAL WORD: “I’m a very emotional guy. I cry all the time. I couldn’t get the ‘yes or the ‘I do’ out on my wedding day. And the pastor said, ‘You gotta say it. You can’t just nod.”’ – Bubba Watson, who broke down after winning the Travelers Championship.
Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title
STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.
It’s been that kind of exhausting season.
From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.
So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?
“I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”
A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.
Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.
All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.
But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.
On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.
“I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”
Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.
Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.
“It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”
Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.
“We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.
It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.
Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
“I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.
This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.
They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.
“This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.
Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.
It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.
Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.
Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.
“Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”
But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.
Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.
And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.
By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.
“But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”
Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.
In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.
The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.
“At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”
Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf
Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.
Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:
• This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.
• Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.
• Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).
• Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.
• Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.
• Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.
High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
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.
Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.
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!