Fantasy Island: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2011, 11:20 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from three groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; contributors John Hawkins and Charlie Rymer; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; contributor Win McMurry; writer for NBCSports.com's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton.


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Arnold Palmer Invitational

*Ranking among the 16 GolfChannel.com experts

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*):
3,640,689 (2)
Group A:
Hunter Mahan

Group B:
Brendon de Jonge

Group C:
Gary Woodland

Feels like a toss-up between “H” and Dustin Johnson this week, but Ernie Els lifted the blue blazer last year with ballstriking, and timely putting, and few are hitting the ball as well as Mahan right now.

He’s on the short list of possible “Best Players without a Tour title” and there are few better places to score one’s first “W” than Bay Hill.

We have cleaned up on the shooting guard-turned-Tour-winner this season. It’s probably a stretch to think he can contend this week, but he’s been cashing checks all season and that’s not going to change.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank):
1,590,341 (15)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Rickie Fowler

Group C:
Chris Couch


The putter heats up as Johnson finds the missing ingredient in his failure to close out at Doral two weeks ago.

The King likes Fowler’s style, and Fowler will show plenty of it in a big week at Bay Hill, with Fowler enjoying two top-10s in his last three starts.

The warm weather’s good for all the big man’s aches and pains as Couch makes another run in his home state.


Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank):
2,254,260 (9)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Gary Woodland

It's time for GMac to stop padding his stats and add to the trophy room. Ball striking will be in demand this week and he'll be up to the task.

Rose was close to winning last week and this week he may just finish the deal.

I'm a big believer in momentum and Woodland has plenty after picking up his first career win at Transitions.

John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank):
2,170,204 (11)
 Group A:
Bubba Watson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Brendon de Jonge





Long is good at the King's house.

Dude spends a lot of time on leaderboards.

Cashes a lot of big checks for a guy ranked 100th in the world.





Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank):
2,372,440 (8)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Edoardo Molinari

Group C:
Kevin Na
It's not so much that I like Tiger this week, but I'm not enamored with the others in this group. If he wins I can pick up points on the field.

His second-place tie here last year is what propelled the Italian to a huge, successful season, including a trip to the Ryder Cup with his brother.

Take a closer look, he's finished T-2 and T-11 at Bay Hill the last two years, respectively. I'll take those numbers each week from a Group C player.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank):
1,958,332 (13)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Gary Woodland

Three top-10s in seven events in 2011 and while he has not performed well at Bay Hill in two starts, if he is playing well – as he is now – the course does not matter.

Four top-25 finishes in his last five starts and two top-10s in two starts on the Florida Swing in the last two weeks. He’s due for a win.

He won last week, has four top-10s in seven starts in 2011, and is playing great golf.

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank):
3,561,855 (4)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Gary Woodland



Six-time champion at Bay Hill, recorded his first top-10 of 2011 at Doral, swing could be rounding into form, need I say more?

Although he has only one top-10 at Bay Hill, he is having a solid 2011 as 21 of his 24 rounds are at par or better. When he lost the 54-hole lead at Travelers in 2010, he won the very next week.

Making his first appearance at Bay Hill and his win at Innisbrook last week combined with three other top-10s in 2011 makes him one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank):
5,224,855 (1)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Steve Marino

Group C:
Kevin Streelman
He has a great record at Bay Hill and it's a home game for him this week. Is this the start of the comeback?

He tied for 11th here last year and hasn't missed a cut in all four starts.

He tied for seventh at Bay Hill in 2010 and his last performance yielded a 15th-place tie at Doral.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank):
451,083 (16)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Gary Woodland

He has been trending up of late and, despite not winning at Doral, has been making a lot of birdies in 2011. He can eat Bay Hill alive.

Have to love the Scot this week. Another top-10 in Tampa for Laird, who is third on Tour in scoring average on Moving Day.

Woodland is a bit of a bargain this week in the C group. He's had a tremendous year, is coming off a win in Tampa, and is young enough to bounce back in Orlando quickly.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank):
2,178,888 (10)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Kevin Na

Hoping my opposition bites on Tiger Woods’ course history this week while I invest in the fella that finished solo second at Doral.
 
Tough call taking a pass on Martin Laird here, but as he proved after last year’s Sunday fade at the Travelers, JR can rebound immediately. (He won the AT&T National the next week.)
 
Took a look at Gary Woodland, but Na is the chalk. Co-runner-up here last year; T11 in 2009. Two top-5s in 2011.



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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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