Notes: Tiger's free drop; DJ to start practice soon

By Doug FergusonMay 8, 2012, 9:19 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods never found his golf ball and received a free drop when it was pointed out a fan picked up the ball.

He went on to miss the cut at Quail Hollow by one shot. The rules official decided the evidence did not merit a penalty.

But imagine the outcry if Woods made the cut. Or what if that happened to a player who went on to win the U.S. Open by two shots?

The details don't make this a clean comparison, but it gave Meg Mallon occasion to recall the bizarre circumstances in the first round of the 2004 U.S. Women's Open.

She was playing the 421-yard fourth hole at The Orchards in the opening round, when she pulled her tee shot toward a food compound. When she arrived to where her ball should have been, it wasn't there. Marshals didn't know what happened.

''I said, 'What you do mean you don't know where the ball is?''' Mallon said on Tuesday.

Her first thought was to go back to the tee, but she called for a rules official when someone in the gallery said someone picked up the ball. The official arrived, talked to people in the gallery and concluded that must have been the case.

''We went to the vicinity of where they thought the fan picked up the ball, and it was a trampled down area,'' Mallon said. ''They gave me a drop,

I had to pitch out to the fairway and I hit 7-iron to a foot for my par.''

Three days later, Mallon closed with a 65 for a two-shot win over Annika Sorenstam.

But this is where the comparisons differ. No one found Woods' golf ball at the Wells Fargo Championship. The evidence official Mark Russell had when making the ruling pointed toward a stolen ball, and the wide-open area of trampled pine straw (along with the nature of the trees) supported that.

In Mallon's case, there was chatter after her drop about the missing ball, and someone confessed.

''After I hit the shot, a woman heard everyone talking and realized she had done it,'' Mallon said. ''She came up to me and said, 'I'm so sorry. I was getting something to eat when I looked down, and there was a golf ball, so I picked it up.'

''She was a nun,'' Mallon said. ''And she was honest.''

TIGER & PAVAROTTI: British player-turned-broadcaster Peter Alliss is among those who believe Tiger Woods is getting too much instruction.

At a news conference before his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Alliss said Woods' ''golfing brain for some reason or another is completely addled.'' What astonished him was a scene from the practice range at the Masters last year. Alliss said he was sitting with Arnold Palmer at the end of the range.

''And there 50 yards away is Tiger Woods at the green nearest the television facility being shown how to chip,'' Alliss said. '''You must do it this way, this way.' And I said to Arnold, 'Are we seeing ...?' He was the greatest chipper in the world for a period, and this guy is teaching, 'No, don't do it that way.'

''It's like Pavarotti saying, 'I'm fed up with being a tenor. I think I'm going to sing as a baritone.' Land sake,'' he said. ''That's as stupid as that, in my opinion. That's not a criticism, that's an opinion. But that's why he's fuddled and befuddled. ... But he's gone. He's gone at the moment.''

LOPEZ HONOR: Nancy Lopez will receive the Byron Nelson Prize next week at the Byron Nelson Championship outside Dallas. The award recognizes people in golf who show the same philanthropic spirit for which Nelson was known.

Lopez sparked popularity in the LPGA as a rookie in the late 1970s. She won 48 LPGA events, including three major championships and was a four-time player of the year. She was twice voted Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

The Salesmanship Club of Dallas makes a $100,000 donation to the charity picked by the winner of the Byron Nelson Prize. Lopez has chosen AIM for the Handicapped.

OVERDUE TRIP: Phil Mickelson was getting serious with his girlfriend, Amy, when he went to Paris to play a golf tournament and wanted her to go with him. So he asked her parents, Gary and Renee McBride, and ''explained to them how this was somehow a good idea.''

''Gary, in his great parenting, put it on us and said, 'Listen, you're going to have plenty of time to go to Paris together. Amy, it's your decision. But you're not going,''' Mickelson said during his induction speech for the World Golf Hall of Fame, as the room laughed. ''I do want to say to him that we still have not been to Paris together.''

That's about to change. Mickelson said they would go to Paris in a few weeks for his wife's 40th birthday.

DUSTIN OUT: Dustin Johnson has gone two months without playing on the PGA Tour, though he plans to gradually get back to practice.

Johnson had surgery to repair cartilage damage in his knee during the offseason, but he withdrew from his first tournament because of back pain that never quite went away. He withdrew from Bay Hill with hopes of being ready for the Masters and then hurt his back again the Friday before the Masters lifting a jet ski from the water near his home in South Florida.

''I can promise you, I won't be doing any more heavy lifting, other than in the gym,'' Johnson said in a statement from Hambric Sports Management. ''I've learned a valuable and expensive lesson the hard way.''

Johnson has three top 10s this year, though only one serious chance at winning, when he missed a playoff at Riviera.

He is behind in Ryder Cup points, but he still has three majors and a World Golf Championship to make up ground, along with the rest of his schedule. He has not said when he would return. The release said the ''coming weeks.'' Johnson said he would take it slow.

''There's no point in me taking any dumb risks and hurrying my return just because I'm anxious,'' he said. ''The next time I tee it up, I'm going to be healthy, strong and 100 percent ready.''

DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy is to throw out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game on June 12, two days before the start of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. ... Matt Kuchar, at No. 14, is the highest-ranked American in the Ryder Cup standings, who either has not won a major or has not won this year. ... The Irish Open got another boost Tuesday when PGA champion Keegan Bradley announced he was playing. The field will feature three of the last four major champions - Bradley, McIlroy and Darren Clarke. ... The Players Championship is missing four of the top 50 in the world ranking - Charl Schwartzel, Dustin Johnson, Anders Hansen and Paul Lawrie. ... McIlroy has decided to put a 2-iron in the bag for The Players Championship, taking out his 5-wood. He has never been a fan of hybrids.

STAT OF THE WEEK: There were 83 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, last August. There were 14 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame at the induction Monday night in St. Augustine, Fla.

FINAL WORD: ''His problem isn't his swing. It's just playing golf. And that's everyone's problem.'' – Hunter Mahan on Tiger Woods.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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