Sun Mountain perplexed by complaints of rain gear

By Doug FergusonOctober 27, 2010, 12:39 am
Rick Reimers looked out from his hotel room in Wales and saw nothing but sheets of rain. It was his last day at the Ryder Cup before flying to a business meeting that Friday afternoon, and he didn’t even bother going out to Celtic Manor.

“I thought, ‘No way they’re playing in this thing,”’ Reimers said. “And they did for three or four holes – unfortunately.”

Indeed, it was most unfortunate for Reimers.

He is the founder and owner of Sun Mountain, the Missoula, Mont.-based company that invented the first golf bag with built-in legs and, most recently, provided the U.S. Ryder Cup team with its rain suits.

Two hours of golf was played before heavy rain halted the opening session.

The rain suits, already lampooned for looking like basketball warmups with stripes and names on the back, didn’t seem to be working. It was never clear if they leaked or retained too much water. During the seven-hour delay, U.S. team officials bought a different brand of rain suits from the merchandise tent.

“We were pretty depressed,” Reimers said in a telephone interview. “It was hard to talk directly to anyone using the garment. We didn’t know any more than what was being reported in the press. And it turns out, that was the only thing to talk about.”

With no golf being played, the rain suits turned into the big story on the opening day.

Sun Mountain immediately tried to figure out what happened with its RainFlex gear, unique in that it is waterproof and the knit fabric stretches so that it doesn’t make noise when a golfer swings.

Reimers had an employee put on a rain jacket (that had been made for a player not picked for the team) and stand in the shower for two hours. He said water was coming down the neck and up from the cuffs, but “we couldn’t see that it leaked anywhere.” The company also ran tests at an independent lab that showed the suits were waterproof.

So what happened?

“We think nobody got wet with rain coming through the garment,” Reimers said. “Did the outside material hold more moisture than you’d like? Probably. When something gets soaked, it feels cold on the skin. People might interpret that as being wet.”

Reimers was remarkably honest in the wake of such bad publicity. He said he heard from one prominent Ryder Cup player who told him he liked the rain suit and didn’t understand all the fuss. Several players continued to wear them.

The contract with the PGA of America, which bought the gear, kept Sun Mountain from promoting its role in the Ryder Cup. The only way anyone would know the brand would be if something went wrong.

“If people had loved them, we wouldn’t receive any benefit,” Reimers said. “We just never imagined anything like this would happen. We’ve had people call our tour rep and say, ‘I’ve worn it in the rain and it’s an advantage.’

Reimers expected Sun Mountain sales to take a hit, although he hasn’t seen any evidence of that, only anecdotes. Some longtime customers don’t understand the complaints and continue to buy, while prospective customers have shied away because of the Ryder Cup.

So what’s next?

As it has done for nearly 40 years, Reimers said Sun Mountain will try to make improvements. It is in the running to supply the U.S. Presidents Cup team with rain gear, as it did in 2009. He said the PGA Tour already has asked for samples.

Rest assured, they will not look like the ones in Wales. Reimers said Lisa Pavin, the wife of U.S. captain Corey Pavin, wanted a retro look and was responsible for the design. For the Presidents Cup, he is providing a more conservative look – navy blue, with a small amount of color to accent the garment.

“But no names,” he said. “And no stripes.”

TIGER AT THE TOP: This will be the final week Tiger Woods is at No. 1 in the world, ending a run of more than five years dating to the week before the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Lee Westwood will go to No. 1 on Sunday, unless PGA champion Martin Kaymer gets to No. 1 this week at Valderrama.

Oddly enough, what has made it tough on Woods’ competition in the world ranking is now working against Woods. He plays such a limited schedule that his divisor is rarely more than 40 or 42 tournaments over two years.

Woods has played only 30 tournaments in the last two years because of his knee surgery and personal turmoil. If not for the minimum divisor of 40 tournaments, his lead over Westwood in the world ranking this week would be 2.83 points instead of 0.06.

FALL SERIES IN FAR EAST: The next two tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule offer $6 million and $7.5 million in prize money. They just don’t count on the money list.

First up is the Asia Pacific Classic, a 40-man field in Malaysia that represents the tour’s first event with the Asian Tour. The field features 25 members from the PGA Tour. While some were skeptical that enough players would want to go halfway around the world this late in the year, it worked out just fine. Brian Gay, who was No. 54 in the FedEx Cup standings, didn’t even get in.

It features four of the top 25 in the world ranking, led by Luke Donald of England (No. 8) and Ernie Els of South Africa (No. 11). The highest-ranked American in Malaysia is Rickie Fowler at No. 32.

Also going is Heath Slocum, who won the McGladrey Classic and is No. 30 on the PGA Tour money list by $132 over Ryan Moore.

“I think it’s going to be a good experience,” Slocum said. “It’s free money. To be honest, it’s nothing simpler than a tournament that I can win, and 40 guys there you’re trying to beat. And you don’t have to pay for a thing. It’s ideal.”

It will be Slocum’s fourth tournament overseas this year. He also played the French Open, Scottish Open and British Open.

LPGA RACE: For all the talk about the revolving No. 1 ranking in women’s golf, far more compelling is the race for the money title.

The LPGA is in South Korea this week competing for a $1.8 million purse. Then it’s off to Japan and Mexico before wrapping up its season in Florida with the LPGA Tour Championship.

Jiyai Shin is atop the money list with $1,463,833, giving her a $14,781 lead over Na Yeon Choi.

Six players have earned more than $1 million on the LPGA this year, and they are separated by a mere $83,340.

DIVOTS: Olympia Fields, where Jim Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open, will host the 2015 U.S. Amateur. … John Daly has made 14 cuts in 20 starts on the PGA Tour, his most in one year since making 17 cuts in 2005. He was 42nd on the money list that year. Daly is No. 192 on the money list with one tournament left this year. … The Travelers Championship generated $1.1 million for New England charities. … Troy Merritt is at No. 121 on the money list, more than $37,000 ahead of the No. 125 spot. He also leads by one in the Kodak Challenge, and a birdie on the 17th hole at Disney will wrap up a $1 million bonus.

STAT OF THE WEEK: For the first time since 1991, only one major champion is among the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list.

FINAL WORD: “It was going to take something special to win it the way we were all playing. And it certainly did.” – Martin Laird, on the hole-in-one by Jonathan Byrd to win a sudden-death playoff in Las Vegas.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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)

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)