Tough opening day all around at Pebble

By Doug FergusonJune 18, 2010, 6:39 am
2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Shaun Micheel sunk several clutch putts on his way to a 2-under 69 at the U.S. Open Thursday, earning him a share of the lead alongside side Paul Casey and Brendon De Jonge.

Meanwhile, the big names misfired at Pebble Beach as the U.S. Open proved to be as tough as ever.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn’t make a single birdie between them, the first time that’s ever happened with the world’s best two players in the same tournament. Some of the strongest rounds, and sometimes the best shots, didn’t hold up on a course that was unforgiving.

One thing seemed as clear as the blue sky over the Monterey Peninsula: that 12-under par by Woods a decade ago is safe. If one round was any indication, anything under par might be good enough to win this U.S. Open.

“I’m not thinking about what kind of score might win this golf tournament,” Ian Poulter said after a hard-earned 70. “I’m just happy to go out there and play as good as I possibly can. But I will tell you the golf course is difficult. There’s not going to be many good scores on it today. And I can’t see it getting easier.”

Paul Casey 1st round 2010 U.S. Open
Paul Casey shot a 2-under 69 in Round 1 to grab a share of the lead. (Getty Images)
De Jonge, a 29-year-old from Zimbabwe playing in his first U.S. Open, holed out with a wedge for eagle on the scary par-5 14th and hit it stiff on the par-3 17th for his round of 69. Casey got away with average iron play by taking only 23 putts.

Only nine players were under par, compared with 17 rounds under par after the first round at Pebble in 2000. The course played slightly more than 3 shots over par – 75.251.

The biggest difference was Woods.

He hit every green in opening with eight pars – extending his streak to 34 holes without a bogey in a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach – but never gave himself many good looks at birdie. His day ended badly, with a three-putt bogey from the fringe on the 16th, missing an 8-foot birdie on the 17th and laying up in a bunker to take bogey on the 18th for a 3-over 74.

“I hit the ball well enough to shoot a good score,” Woods said. “These greens are just awful. They’re moving every which way.”

Woods never had that problem 10 years ago, making everything inside 8 feet. He is a different player now, playing this U.S. Open under far different circumstances with the turmoil in his personal life. And this golf course has rarely looked so tough in relatively calm conditions.

Mickelson, already with a record five runner-up finishes in this major, hit two balls in the ocean, took two shots to get out of one bunker and missed a half-dozen birdie putts inside 12 feet in his birdie-free round of 75.

It was his highest opening round in the U.S. Open since 1997, though he was not entirely discouraged.

“There’s no way under par is going to win here, I don’t believe,” Mickelson said. “I think over par will win. Because of that, I’m right there. But I need to play well. I need to putt well, score well. I’ve just got to get sharp on the greens.”

Mike Weir chipped in for a bonus birdie on the 16th to reach 3-under, only to bogey the final two holes and settle for a 70, leaving him in a group of international players that included Poulter of England, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, K.J. Choi of South Korea, Alex Cejka of Germany and Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Argentina, who had Visa trouble even getting into the country for his first U.S. Open.

Dustin Johnson, the back-to-back winner of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February when the turf is soggy and only two rounds are played at Pebble, was among those at even-par 71. His round was derailed by a four-putt double bogey on the 14th.

That was only one of several miscues:

 –  Aaron Baddeley thought he had an ace on the 17th when his shot caught the lip. He four-putted for a double bogey.

 –  John Rollins was tied for the lead at 2 under when he put his tee shot into the rough at the far end of the hourglass green. He shanked his chip toward the 18th tee, left his third shot in the gnarly rough and wound up with a triple bogey.

 –  Morgan Hoffmann of Oklahoma State was at even par, a remarkable performance for a college kid in his first U.S. Open. But he hit two balls into the ocean on the 18th – the first one on a ricochet off the tree in the middle of the fairway – and took a quadruple-bogey 9.

“My favorite hole on the golf course,” Hoffmann said. “I was looking forward to it all day.”

Lee Westwood, the No. 3 player in the world who has a second and two third-place ties in the last three majors, had a 74. He played with Woods and Ernie Els, who had a 73.

It was a round that put Woods’ 15-shot victory into perspective. Except for his record score of 12-under par, the best anyone else could do 10 years ago was 3-over.

At first glance, the course seemed benign, especially with only a freshening breeze that picks up along the coastal holes. But it looked frightening with a club in hand. The fairways were particularly fast, the greens so firm that balls would bounce as high as six feet in the air upon landing.

“It looks like it’s wide-open fairway, but in the teeing ground … you look right, look left, either way is very tough,” Choi said. “And you can’t stop in the bouncing, so you’re very scared on the tee shot.”

Micheel managed best on the greens, and he was helped by his own sense of perspective.

His mother, Donna, was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. Micheel, a surprise PGA champion at Oak Hill in 2003, had to cope with low testosterone that has slowed him in recent years and cost him his full PGA Tour card for this year.

He choked up during his TV interview when speaking of his mother in Memphis, Tenn. The cancer was diagnosed in her lung, and since has spread to her brain, liver and spine. He doesn’t not expect her to live beyond the summer, and she could not get out to the course last week in Memphis when Micheel tied for fourth.

“It’s nice because I’m playing for somebody else,” Micheel said. “It’s always been about me, me, me. What am I going to shoot? It doesn’t matter to me. I love my mom. What do you say?”

For everyone else, Pebble Beach – more specifically, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach – is enough to get their attention.

Defending champion Lucas Glover bogeyed his first two holes and ground out a 73. Not so fortunate were the 15 players who failed to break 80, and a few former U.S. Open champions who barely did.

Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 winner, played an eight-hole stretch in 8 over in the middle of his round and shot 79. Tom Watson, the 60-year-old who won at Pebble in 1982, still managed to show his famous gap-tooth smile despite a 78.

“Pebble had its teeth out today,” said Watson, the only player to compete in all five U.S. Opens on the seaside course.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington rallied for a 73 while playing with Mickelson.

“Our scores say a lot about the U.S. Open,” Harrington said. “You get good golf courses like this … set up reasonable in a regular event, guys would shoot regular scores. But in this event, everybody gets a bit more tense.”
Rollins was tied for the lead at 2 under heading into the 17th on Thursday. Then he finished with a triple-bogey followed by a double-bogey, hardly the kind of triple-double to be proud of. Rollins just hopes he can recover and start Friday morning on fresh greens playing the way he did in his initial 16 holes.

“It’s a U.S. Open. You miss something or you mismanage your game, you’re going to pay the price,” Rollins said. “If I get it going again, hopefully I’ll be able to hang on and get myself back in position. I’m by no means out of the golf tournament but at the same time, standing on the 17th tee 2 under you’re feeling like you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting in there with a good score. To walk off 18 3 over is disappointing.”

Nothing went right down the stretch, starting with that terrible 17th. Rollins has been working to better control his emotions when things don’t go his way, so he didn’t let any frustration show.

“I made a debacle of that hole,” he said of 17. “I’m steaming inside. I played 16 really good holes. I had just two slip-ups. Unfortunately they were big ones.”

THE TIDES TURN: U.S. Open first-timer Hugo Leon learned in a hurry how fast things can change in a major, especially at unpredictable Pebble Beach.

Just when things seemed to be going his way, the tides turned for the cheerful Chilean during a particularly tough stretch of the front nine at this spectacular oceanside course – Nos. 7-10. Not only do seagulls squeak loudly above and sometimes land right in the path of play, the winds are constantly changing. Mistakes must be at a minimum to succeed here.

Leon birdied the par-5, 523-yard sixth to go to 1 under only to score back-to-back bogeys on his next two holes.

On No. 8, Leon landed his tee shot over a steep cliff into the left bunker and one of five sand traps surrounding the green. He wound up with a 2-over 73 for the day.

“Andale, andale, Hugo!” one man cheered as Leon lofted a chip out of that trap at the eighth, then the golfer acknowledged the gallery with a wave of his right hand.

The 25-year-old Leon hollered “get down!” to his tee shot at No. 7. He bit his right fingernails as he checked out the rocky view some 75 feet below him at the eighth tee.

Leon and fellow Open rookie Ty Tryon regularly chatted as they walked down the fairways – and even rooted each other on.

“That a way, Ty, good save,” Leon said after one shot.

Amateur Andrew Putnam, the other member of the threesome, had his own problems. He hit a drive off No. 6 that took one bounce and went over the cliff to the right to the low tide below. He took a drop there, then hit twice on his second shot on 8 after the first sailed over another bluff.

STAYING WELL: Jeffrey Poplarski is working his eighth U.S. Open on the “Wellness Team.” That’s a fancy, fit-for-golf, way to sum up all the medical professionals on hand to help the players.

Chiropractors, personal trainers, acupuncturists, physical and massage therapists. There are 95 assorted health care providers in two onsite wellness centers treating the 156 players and their caddies and the 6,000 volunteers at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

One popular treatment so far this week has been in the hyperbaric chamber, where players are spending up to an hour in an enclosed pressure vessel that provides oxygen in a high-pressure environment to help speed healing and recovery.

“It’s getting a little attention,” Poplarski, a chiropractor, said of the chamber. “They’re going in for an hour. It revitalizes the tissue.”

With the cool and sometimes downright chilly conditions, Poplarski also is receiving inquiries from players who want to make sure they can get and stay loose on the course while dealing with any minor injuries.

Poplarski handed out some heat patches for one player to wear on his troublesome back during Thursday’s round.

“The cooler it is the harder it is if you have an ailment to deal with it,” he said during a brief stop with colleague and fitness professional Marlene Simonson as they took a cart onto the course.

BARNES BOUNCES BACK: Ricky Barnes was already unraveling early in his round when his pitch shot from behind a greenside bunker on the 15th came flying out and landed 10 feet above the hole. Barnes stared angrily at the rough, looking ready to take a few chunks out of the tangled grass before missing his par putt for a third bogey in five holes.

But Barnes rebounded from his early mistakes. He fell to 4 over after bogeying No. 1 – his 10th hole – then rallied with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5 and an eagle on the uphill par-5 sixth. Barnes bogeyed the difficult eighth but finished at 1-over 72.

Last year, Barnes finally lived up to some of his potential and led the Open after three rounds at Bethpage, before stumbling with a final-round 76 and finishing in a tie for second place.

HE’S UNDER: K.J. Choi finished 1 under in his opening round Thursday – the only time he can remember being under par to start a U.S. Open. And this is the South Korean’s 10th time playing the national championship.

He overcame a bogey on No. 1 followed by a double bogey on 2. He later had two more bogeys.

“Even par every day,” Choi said of his mindset this week at Pebble Beach.

Paired with Mike Weir and Tim Clark, Choi tried to recover after the early trouble.

“I started out with bogey and double bogey, which wasn’t good, but as the holes went by I tried to find my rhythm again,” he said. “I didn’t give up. So eventually I found my swing, my shots got better, putting went better, I was able to finish the day with 1 under so, I’m happy about that. I think if I just keep it up at this pace for the next three days I’ll have a good finish. “

Choi, a pro since 1994, turned 40 last month.

AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this story.
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)