Notes: Rookies leading way for U.S. Prez Cup team

By Doug FergusonAugust 2, 2017, 12:06 am

AKRON, Ohio - With just over a month remaining to qualifying for the Presidents Cup, this is shaping up as a new American team.

Charley Hoffman's playoff loss in the Canadian Open moved him to No. 10 in the standings, which is based on FedEx Cup points. That gives the U.S. team five players from the top 10 who have never competed in a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup. The others are Justin Thomas (No. 3), Daniel Berger (No. 4), Kevin Kisner (No. 7) and Kevin Chappell (No. 9). U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is No. 5 and has never played the Presidents Cup, though he played the Ryder Cup last fall.

U.S. captain Steve Stricker could see this coming.

He was an assistant to Davis Love III at Hazeltine last year. Thomas and Berger were invited to play the Minnesota course ahead of the final picks, though neither of them was chosen. The last pick went to Ryan Moore, another Cup rookie.

''You could see the change there, even though some of them didn't play,'' Stricker said. ''You can see the movement is definitely going to younger, powerful players.''

Right behind them is a blend of experience (Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker) and new (Brian Harman, Gary Woodland). The top 10 players qualify after the Dell Technologies Championship on Sept. 4.

That could have a bearing on how Stricker uses his captain's picks.

''It concerns me a little bit that we have a lot of rookies,'' he said. ''But it also excites me what I'm seeing from them. They're very courageous, they're feisty, they're making clutch putts when they have to. It just shows a lot of guts. These guys are playing well and showing a little attitude when they're doing it, which is nice to see, especially in match play.''

Phil Mickelson has dropped to No. 17. His best finish this year was reaching the quarterfinals of the Dell Technologies Match Play. Mickelson has never missed a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup since 1994, and he had to rely on a captain's pick for only the second time in his career in 2015. He went 3-0-1 for the week.

Stricker said he told Mickelson to give him good reasons to pick him if Lefty doesn't make it on his own.

''And he told me flat out he's going to make his way inside the top 10,'' Stricker said. ''He feels like he's playing that well, he just needs to score a little bit better and see some putts to go in. But he's not worried about sneaking his way into the top 10.''

NO SURE THING: PGA Tour players are often mistaken when they talk about one of the perks from reaching the Tour Championship - getting into the four major championships the following year.

That's not always the case.

Roberto Castro, who made it to the Tour Championship on the strength of his third-place finish at the BMW Championship, did not qualify for the PGA Championship. This is the second straight year that has happened - Steven Bowditch failed to qualify for the PGA Championship last year.

Castro has missed the cut in 14 of his last 18 events. He has fallen to No. 99 in the PGA Points list, which effectively is a money list from the 2016 Canadian Open through the 2017 Canadian Open. The top 70 earn spots in the PGA Championship.

It's rare that a player doesn't make it because accruing the money to get to the Tour Championship (plus earnings at East Lake) is enough to be in reasonable shape on the PGA Points list the following year.

Bowditch also hit a spell of bad form after reaching the 2015 Tour Championship, missing 11 out of 17 cuts.

The Masters, U.S. Open and The Open each give exemptions to players in the field at the Tour Championship. The PGA Championship does not.

TEXAS SHRINE: Former PGA champion Steve Elkington will be inducted this fall into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, and he couldn't be prouder.

''I've lived longer in Texas than in my home country of Australia, so this honor is special to me,'' Elkington said. ''So many famous players have come from the state of Texas and I'm proud to be included as one of those now.''

Elkington will be inducted Oct. 9 along with two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Kelli Kuehne, PGA professional James ''Buddy'' Cook of San Antonio and Montford T. Johnson Jr., who helped shape amateur golf policy while serving in the USGA.

Elkington won the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie. He also won The Players Championship in 1991 and 1997, and he won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average in 1995.

He was the first prominent Australian to play college golf in America, helping to lead the Houston Cougars to national titles in 1982, 1984 and 1985. Elkington still lives in the Houston area and considers Jack Burke Jr. his mentor.

DIVOTS: Ernie Els is among those who have received a special exemption to the PGA Championship next week. ... Laura Davies and Paula Creamer each made it through Monday qualifying for the Ricoh Women's British Open. ... Steve Stricker is preparing for the PGA Championship by playing a PGA Tour Champions event in Minnesota this week. ... Montreal-born clubmaker Bob Vokey was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame last week. He has become one of the world's top wedge designers for Titleist Vokey Design. ... The Latin America Amateur Championship will be held Jan. 20-23 at Wales Country Club in Santiago. ... Se Ri Pak will host an American Junior Golf Association event on Aug. 21-24 at Butte Creek Country Club in Georgia.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Bernhard Langer has won five of his 10 senior majors after turning 58.

FINAL WORD: ''I'm going to check to make sure the range is in play when the Presidents Cup comes there.'' - U.S. captain Steve Stricker, referring to Jordan Spieth playing a crucial shot from the range at Royal Birkdale when he won The Open.

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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)

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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.”

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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)

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Fort Worth Invitational: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 10:30 pm

The PGA Tour makes the short drive from Dallas to Fort Worth and Colonial Country Club. Here are the key stats and information for this week. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $7.1 million

Course: Colonial Country Club (par 70, 7,209 yards)

Defending champion: Kevin Kisner. Last year he defeated Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair and Jon Rahm by one stroke

Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Finished T-2, 1st and T-2 in last three starts in this tournament

• 52 under par at Colonial last five years (best of anyone by 27 strokes in that span)

• 100 birdies/eagles made here last five years (most of anyone in that span)

Rickie Fowler

• First start since missed cut at The Players

• More missed cuts (3) than top-10 finishes (2) in 2018

Jon Rahm at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Jon Rahm

• Finished T-2 in this tournament last year (66 in final round)

• 17 top-5 finishes in 46 official worldwide individual starts as professional

Webb Simpson

• First start since Players victory (fifth PGA Tour win)

• Fifth on Tour in strokes gained: putting this season (177th two seasons ago)