Lots of drama and rain at Ryder Cup not golf

By Doug FergusonOctober 2, 2010, 1:31 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Only in the Ryder Cup can so little golf produce so much drama.

More than 11 hours after these high-charged matches began in a steady rain at Celtic Manor, they ended in darkness with Ian Poulter making a 20-foot birdie putt to square his fourballs match against Tiger Woods on a green illuminated by a large video board.

One problem: They were only on the 10th hole.

None of the four matches in the opening session finished. Captains never even turned in the lineup for the four alternate-shot matches scheduled for the afternoon.

The rain did more than suspend play for more than seven hours. It exposed a wardrobe malfunction with the Americans’ rain suits, and forced an unprecedented schedule change with the hope – or maybe it’s a prayer – that the Ryder Cup will have a winner by Sunday. That means everyone will be playing the rest of the way until one teams hoists the cup.

Ultimately, no one put a single point on the board Friday.

“We were supposed to play for eight points today,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “And we didn’t play for one.”

The Americans at least felt as though they had some momentum.

Trailing in three of the four matches when play was halted, Woods made a clutch par to keep from falling two holes down, and he and Steve Stricker won consecutive holes for their first lead until Poulter made his birdie in the dark.

Stewart Cink, the guy U.S. captain Corey Pavin forgot to introduce at the opening ceremony, was impossible to miss on the golf course by making one big putt after another. He and Matt Kuchar took a 2-up lead over U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy through 11 holes.

The American rookies were just as relentless. Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton won the first two holes with birdies before the rain, and they were 1-up on Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. The Americans already have a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole, and Donald will have a chance to halve the hole with a 6-foot putt when they return Saturday.

Europe was leading only in the first match, with Lee Westwood and PGA champion Martin Kaymer 1 up through 12 holes over Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Europe was 3 up through six holes when Mickelson led a rally.

Ultimately, the rain-soaked and mud-splattered fans saw only four hours of golf, some of it quite sloppy given the conditions. Woods took four shots to reach the first green. Europe won that hole with a par when Ross Fisher’s tee shot was lodged in the lining of a fan’s umbrella. He was given a free drop and was able to hit onto the green.

Volunteers armed with squeegees were constantly mopping up large puddles across the landing area in the fairways and on every green, until they could no longer keep up with all the water.

The entertainment didn’t let up even when the golf was suspended. If nothing else, it gave the U.S. team time to do a little shopping in the merchandise tent in yet another embarrassing moment.

The Americans looked soaked in their navy blue rain suits with white stripes, and there was a reason for that – they didn’t work. Pavin never explained why it took until Friday at the Ryder Cup to figure this out, or what specifically was wrong with them.

“My suit was fine. I had no problems – but I wasn’t playing,” Pavin said. “They just didn’t perform the way they were supposed to perform, and so we just went out and bought some more, simple as that.”

Team officials bought 20 suits from the same company that outfitted a dry-looking European team – although they weren’t even necessary when play eventually resumed.

Woods’ match was approaching the sixth green when Pavin huddled with PGA of America officials to agree on the schedule change.

Once the fourballs matches are completed Saturday morning, the next session will be six alternate-shot matches, followed by a third session of six more matches – two alternate-shot and four better-ball matches. Ideally, those would be wrapped up Sunday morning in time for the decisive 12 singles matches.

Rain is forecast over the weekend, and this could be the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history. Until then, everyone will be playing until one team hoists the cup. That includes Westwood, in his first competition in six weeks because of a calf injury.

“Well, if they’re not fit, they shouldn’t be here,” Montgomerie said. “And they’re fit, so they are here.”

Montgomerie saved his sympathy for some 45,000 fans, who went from singing and chanting and waving flags in the morning to waiting about seven hours during a delay that seemed would never end. Enough of them returned to line every fairway and fill every grandstand where matches were played.

“They pay a lot of money, and unfortunately, the appalling weather conditions out there today made it very tough for them,” Montgomerie said. “I hope they saw some great golf later on in the day.”

Montgomerie saw enough, especially at the end from Poulter.

Confident as ever, making eye contact with the fans as he stepped on every tee, Poulter made a 30-foot birdie on the third hole to give Europe the lead. Just as Woods and Stricker tag-teamed their way into the lead, the Englishman delivered again on the par-3 10th.

Montgomerie said Poulter considered waiting until Saturday morning to putt.

“He thought, ‘OK, I’ll do this and give the team momentum if I hole it, give the team momentum going into the next day.’ And he definitely did that,” Montgomerie said. “What a roar went up when the putt went in! Fantastic effort. That will give us momentum we need to carry forward into a very, very busy day tomorrow.”

First, the teams have to finish the opening set of matches. Regarding his match, Woods referred to it as an eight-hole “boat race.” Considering the kind of day, it was a good choice of words.

Getty Images

Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

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.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


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.”

Getty Images

Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

A post shared by ETPI (@etpi_performanceunit) on