Mickelson figures out Pebble moves into 2nd

By Doug FergusonJune 18, 2010, 8:31 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – From the top of every grandstand to the beach down below, fans desperate for a star at Pebble Beach saluted Phil Mickelson with throaty cheers and messages written in the sand.

He gave the gallery what it wanted. He gave the U.S. Open what it needed.

Mickelson beat the entire field at a major for the first time in his career  –  a tournament-best 66 – to put some life into an overcast day and give himself another chance to finally take something more than silver home from a U.S. Open.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson offset his lone bogey with six birdies to climb 64 spots Friday at Pebble Beach. (Getty Images)

One day after he didn’t make a single birdie, he made six of them Friday. It wasn’t enough to catch Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who set the early pace with a 3-under 68 to take a two-shot lead into the weekend.

All that mattered to Mickelson, however, was getting back to even par.

“I’m in a good spot,” said Mickelson, whose five runner-up finishes is a U.S. Open record. “I don’t look at the leaderboard. I don’t look at other players. I look at par. If you can stay around par, you’re going to be in the tournament Sunday. That was kind of the goal.”

Mickelson finished with seven strong pars and was at 1-under 141, joining a shrinking group of five players who have beaten par over two days at Pebble Beach. Also two shots behind were two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els (68), 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa (71) and Dustin Johnson (70), who has won the last two times in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and looks right at home in much firmer conditions.

Even so, the day belonged to Mickelson.

The Masters champion, who opened with a 75 on Thursday, ran off five birdies in first eight holes. The blazing stretch ended on the par-4 eighth with a 5-iron off the tee that came perilously close to the edge of a 60-foot cliff, setting up a wedge he hit over the ocean to 15 feet and another big roar.

Just like that, he was back in the game.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow’s round,” Mickelson. “I love being on this golf course.”

Tiger Woods believes he’s still in the mix, too, although a pedestrian round of 1-over 72 left him seven shots behind. Woods has never won a major when trailing by more than six shots going into the weekend.

Asked if he liked his positions, Woods replied, “Absolutely.”

“I’m right there in the championship,” Woods said. “I just need to make a few more birdies, a few more putts on the weekend, and I’ll be right there.”

It starts with McDowell, a 30-year-old with five European Tour victories and a pair of 18-hole leads in the majors.

He was among the early starters, when the greens were in the best shape and the air was cool and calm. McDowell holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the 14th –  the par 5 that chewed up so many other players throughout the day – and pulled ahead with smart shots into the fourth hole and the par-5 sixth to build his lead.

“I’m really trying to put no expectations on myself this weekend because I know there’s a lot of great players out here … and this golf course is extremely difficult,” McDowell said.

It just didn’t look that way Friday.

It was a gentle start to the second round, with the calm of Stillwater Cove broken only by a pair of dolphins searching for breakfast. Over the next 12 hours, conditions didn’t change much except for a freshening breeze late in the day.

McDowell’s round ended with a three-putt bogey on the ninth hole, but it was significant. By dropping to 3-under, he assured that everyone within 10 shots, 7-over or better, would make the cut to play on the weekend – a group that included 60-year-old Tom Watson.

Watson, who won his only U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 1982, made par on the last hole to follow his 78 with a 71. Turns out he would have made the cut on his own, one of the 83 players who were among the top 60 and ties.

Watson, the only player to compete in all five U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach, was not surprised by the good scoring.

“When you have some wind, that’s when it’s hard to get on these greens, to get the right shot in there, to get the right distance,” Watson said. “Today, the course is going to play as easy as it’s going to play for four rounds. I can guarantee you that.”

Mickelson made him look like a prophet.

Woods did not.

The world’s No. 1 player made his first birdie of the tournament by chipping in from about 20 yards short of the green on his second hole at No. 11. But he made only two more birdies, and they were not enough to offset the tee shot that caromed off a tree into grass so deep he took a penalty drop, or the plugged lie in the corner of the bunker on the 12th, or his failure to birdie the easiest par 5s.

Mickelson knew he would have to take advantage on the first seven holes, and he did just that.

“I thought something in the 60s was out there and would get me into contention,” Mickelson said. “I knew I needed to get off to a quick start because the birdie holes are the first seven.”

As he finished out the ocean holes, a small crowd walking the beach wrote in the sand, “GO PHIL.”

He made birdie on the 11th and finished with seven strong pars, giving himself four good looks at birdie but no complaints when they didn’t fall. Mickelson was nine shots better than his opening round.

“This is so much fun, and I don’t want the weekend to end,” Mickelson said.

It’s just beginning. His family was due in from San Diego on Friday night, stirring memories of his Masters victory in April. Once he took the lead, his wife, Amy, came out to the golf course for the first time since being diagnosed with breast cancer more than a year ago.

But this U.S. Open is only halfway over.

McDowell has not faced weekend pressure in a major, and he conceded that it was hard not to think about that shiny trophy.

Ishikawa, who has a chance to become the youngest U.S. Open champion, is used to the bright lights. Even though he only graduated high school in March, he is treated in Japan the way Woods is around the world. And it helped to play two rounds with Watson, who is revered in these parts.

Els, already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, also knows how to win a U.S. Open, even though his last title came in 1997.

“I needed something in red figures to get me back in the tournament,” the Big Easy said.

Paul Casey took an 8 on the par-5 14th when a chip rolled back toward his feet – stopping near a divot he had smoothed over during the time it took the ball to roll up and down the slope. He was not penalized because it was deemed not his intention to improve his lie. Casey shot a 73 and was at even-par 142, along with Brendon De Jonge (73), Alex Cejka (72) and Jerry Kelly (70).

Two dozen players were separated by six shots, a group that included Lee Westwood, the No. 3 player in the world who played with Els and Woods and has done well to stay in the game.

Westwood scrambled for a 71 on a day he thought would be the easiest of the week.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to run away with this,” Westwood said.

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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)