Still in shock Oosthuizen contemplates future

By Doug FergusonJuly 19, 2010, 4:31 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Louis Oosthuizen never let the silver claret jug out of his sight as he celebrated into the morning hours at the Jigger Inn across from the 17th fairway at St. Andrews.

If his seven-shot victory in the British Open felt like a dream, reality arrived when he awoke Monday.

“I put it next to my bed last night, and I woke up this morning and I looked at it, and I immediately grabbed the phone and texted Chubby Chandler, my agent, saying, ‘I’ve got this funny old jug next to my bed,’ Oosthuizen said.

“Man, oh, man. That was special waking up next to it.”

Equally special was his victory at the home of golf, a performance so pure that he never trailed over the final 48 holes and only hit into one bunker on the Old Course, on the 14th hole Sunday when the championship had already been decided.

Oosthuizen became the fifth player in the last six Grand Slam events to win his first major, and the question sure to follow is whether he is capable of winning more or if he happened to play his best golf during an important week.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen celebrated his victory at the Jigger Inn. (Getty Images)
The margin of victory is what makes this stand out.

Until his conservative play on the 17th to make bogey, Oosthuizen was poised to tie the Open record over 72 holes with an eight-shot victory, last achieved by Tiger Woods a decade ago.

Seven shots is no less impressive. In the 150 years of major championships, only 14 players have won by seven shots or more (Woods has done three times, Jack Nicklaus twice). Of those players, only two of them – Fred Herd in the 1898 U.S. Open and Willie Smith in the 1899 U.S. Open – never won another major.

Where does Oosthuizen fit in?

“I think based on the margin of victory, his demeanor on the golf course, the quality of his game and steady progress that he’s been making in the world rankings and in tour events, I think very much mark him as a player on the rise,” Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said Monday. “Every great Open champion has to win for the first time. And I for one would not be surprised to see him win again.”

That would be the plan for the 27-year-old South African.

In this age of players turning pro earlier and winning tour events immediately, from Ryo Ishikawa to Rory McIlroy to Anthony Kim, Oosthuizen might be a late bloomer.

Ernie Els noticed his skill immediately when he invited Oosthuizen to be part of his foundation, which helps promising juniors who need financial assistance. Oosthuizen wears “57” on his sleeve, the name of his own foundation, as a tribute to the score he shot on his home course of Mossel Bay along the Garden Route in South Africa.

“The wind blows so hard there that the sea gulls walk,” Chandler said.

Yet the self-belief was lacking until Oosthuizen won the Andalucia Open in Spain earlier this year, his first European Tour victory. And while he wouldn’t have predicted a victory in the British Open, he knew he was capable.

The key to his victory came in the second round. Oosthuizen began in the wind and rain, and he has never liked playing in wet weather. He managed to get through the rough part without dropping a shot, and wound up with a 67 just as the wind turned fierce.

He figures the seven years he spent on the European Tour toughened him up, and winning in Spain did nothing but boost his confidence.

“I want a few more of these,” he said, his eyes rarely wandering from the jug. “I think winning one just wants you to get to the second one, and winning a second one and then get to the third. Yeah, I’m going to work a bit harder probably from now on and just try and get up there with as many majors as I can.”

During a night of celebration at the Jigger Inn, he stepped outside into a garden and looked over the stone wall toward an empty Old Course, wanting to walk the links and soak in all he had accomplished.

Part of him still couldn’t believe what he had done.

While not well-known on a global stage, this victory was not as surprising as Ben Curtis winning in 2003 in his first major at No. 396 in the world, or Paul Lawrie winning at Carnoustie in 1999.

“I thought long before anybody had heard of him that he was going to be an exceptional player,” Els said. “He shot an absolutely stunning 57 at Mossel Bay, which will neither be equaled nor bettered. You have something special when you do that. Louis is now the Open champion. His life will change. He won’t.”

That was the message from Gary Player, South Africa’s greatest golf champion, who called Oosthuizen on Sunday morning for a pep talk. Player doesn’t know as much about Oosthuizen as he does other South African players, yet he won’t forget his last time playing the Masters, how Oosthuizen came out to the 18th green to watch him finish.

“He is so respectful,” Player said. “It’s very nice when you get a young man like this that has no sense of entitlement.”

Oosthuizen took that respect to a new level when it comes to golf’s oldest trophy. British Open champions keep the claret jug for a year, and usually return with stories of what all was poured out of it. Stewart Chink started with Guinness, and the rest of the liquid ranged from soda to wine to barbecue sauce.

For now, the jug is as clean as when Chink returned it.

“There was nothing in this,” Oosthuizen said. “To me, it’s too special. I just looked at it and held it in my arms all night.”

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