KAPALUA, Hawaii – Geoff Ogilvy has 12 stitches in his finger. Zach Johnson cut a hole in his shoe to accommodate his bum toe.
Hawaii isn’t paradise for everyone at the PGA Tour’s season opener.
The 2011 season gets under way Thursday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua with a 34-man field of Tour winners from last year. Robert Garrigus was the last one to get in, winning at Disney in the final event of the year. Ogilvy was the first to qualify by winning the Tournament of Champions a year ago by one shot.
He has a chance to join Stuart Appleby as the only players to win three successive years at Kapalua, and Ogilvy appeared to be in fine form by winning the Australian Open and losing in a playoff at the Australian PGA Championship.
Ogilvy headed for the beach on Tuesday, and cut his right index finger on some coral reef while coming in from the surf.
He received more stitches than he needed as a precaution, but pulled out of the pro-am Wednesday and after another trip to the doctor, opted to rest until Thursday before deciding if he could play.
“It’s not ideal,” said his manager, Paul Galli. “It’s not so much a big cut, it’s just in an awkward position. It was fairly deep, and when you’re on the reef, you’ve got to be careful with an infection. They cleaned it out and put in some stitches.”
The Tournament of Champions has not been without its defending champion since Jerry Barber didn’t play in 1961.
Johnson also hurt himself in a tropical paradise, though it was nothing to boast about. He was in the Grand Caymans on a family holiday last week when fireworks left a trash can smoldering. He grabbed a hose and was running to the rescue, in pitch dark wearing flip-flops, when he slammed into a concrete step he didn’t see and tore off his toe nail.
He tried those sandals with golf spikes when he got to Kapalua. That didn’t work. For the pro-am Wednesday, he went to a larger shoe and cut out the toe, but the size left him uncomfortable. The plan for Thursday was to cut out the toe of his regular golf shoes and give it his best shot.
Johnson was taking it all in stride.
He managed to make it through the pro-am because players are allowed carts. Thursday is the real test: walking a 7,400-yard course that was carved out of a mountain overlooking Maui. It’s one of the longest walks of the year.
“It’s a win-win,” Johnson said. “Because if I play and get through this, I look like a stallion for the first time. And if I don’t, I go to the pool with my kids on Maui and watch the rest of them suffer.”
There’s not much suffering this week.
It’s the toughest PGA Tour event to get a tee time because it requires nothing less than a win, and those don’t come easily these days, even when Tiger Woods isn’t taking his share of them. Once they get to Kapalua, however, it’s a small field with a big purse ($1.08 million to the winner) and no cut.
The Plantation Course can look impossible, despite its 80-yard wide fairways. The typical trade wind is required to take advantage, although the Kona wind out of the opposite direction can be a bear. Either way, getting on the contoured, spacious greens with severe grain can make even the best look foolish at times. As usual, they manage.
“When I first came here, I couldn’t understand how anybody shot the scores that they were shooting,” Ogilvy said Tuesday. “But every year, I enjoy it more.”
The question is whether he gets to enjoy it Thursday.
There was friendly banter whether Ogilvy could get a third straight win now that Appleby is back at Kapalua and playing well. He shot a 65 on the final day at Victoria Golf Club – Ogilvy’s home course in Melbourne – to win the Australian Masters in late November.
Appleby hasn’t been at Kapalua in four years. It used to be easy to qualify because he was winning the Tournament of Champions so often. But he went into a slump, and pulled out of it in style by shooting a 59 to win The Greenbrier.
“I can’t believe it’s that long,” Appleby said of his absence. “It feels like yesterday I was here. But again, I had a child that was turning 2 at that time and now she’s 6. So I can do the math.
“You love to get off to a good start, and I’ve got a lot of mojo here,” he said. “I just hope I can create something resembling my previous form, because it will be a good week.”
Photos of past champions line the wall of the locker room, and it’s easy to see triple when getting to Appleby’s stretch. There are plenty of other familiar faces, too. Ernie Els returns after his two-win season, and everyone still remembers his record score of 26-under 268 in 2003 for an eight-shot victory.
FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk, who won three times last year, returns after a three-year absence. He won in 2001. In one of the more intriguing pairings, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell plays with Hunter Mahan. They haven’t played golf with each other since that singles match at the Ryder Cup that McDowell won to set off a European celebration.
It all starts with Arjun Atwal of India, the winner at Greensboro, hitting the opening shot to the 2011 season.
That’s a lot of pressure – not so much on Atwal, for it’s difficult to miss a fairway that can accommodate a small shopping center.
“It’s just another shot,” Atwal said. “I just hope I don’t top it.”
No, the heat is on Jerry King, who teaches at the Kapalua Golf Academy and serves as the announcer because of his booming voice. Atwal still chuckles at the time he played the old Buick Classic at Westchester, and the announcer struggled.
“He said, ‘Now on the tee, from Calcutta, Indiana, Arjeeen Atwale,”’ he said.
PGA Tour season kicks off in Kapalua
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Geoff Ogilvy has 12 stitches in his finger. Zach Johnson cut a hole in his shoe to accommodate his bum toe.
Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
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.
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.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
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)
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
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.
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.”
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
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.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)