Clutch save pushes Kent State to match play

By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2017, 2:38 am

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – His team in a free fall, his player coming off a double bogey, Greg Robertson kept his mouth shut.

Kent State was clinging to the eighth and final spot at the NCAA Women’s Championship, and he didn’t say a word to sophomore Michaela Finn as she sized up her 167-yard third shot into the par-5 18th hole at Rich Harvest Farms.

Make par, and the Golden Flashes advance to match play for the first time.

Make bogey, and they drop into a team playoff with North Carolina, which had been in the clubhouse for hours.

“I didn’t tell her anything,” Robertson said afterward. “What’s she going to do, try harder?”

And so Finn, already 9 over for the day, dumped her third shot into the greenside bunker. She splashed out (and nearly holed it) and left herself 5 feet as her teammates waited on anxiously.

“The first putt over 3 feet I made all day,” she said with a smile.

Finn’s clutch par save sent Kent State to the quarterfinals and put a wrap on a wild final hour at the NCAA Championship, where temperatures plunged into the 50s, the wind howled up to 30 mph, and making par was the ultimate goal.

The Golden Flashes’ closing 24-over 312 was the worst round of the day, but it doesn’t matter now – they’ll be 0-0 when they square off against top seed and local favorite Northwestern on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a new ballgame now,” Robertson said.


NCAA Division I National Championships: Articles and videos


All five Northwestern players finished inside the top 25 individually as the Wildcats advanced to match play a year after missing out by a shot.

Grabbing the second seed was Stanford, which joined Southern Cal as the only programs to reach match play each of the past three seasons. In the quarterfinals, the Cardinal will face Baylor, the team they beat on the way to the 2015 title.

This is a new-look Baylor program, with USC transfer Amy Lee providing a much-needed boost.

Last spring, Baylor failed to reach NCAA regionals just a year after falling short in the finals. The day after Big 12s ended, Bears coach Jay Goble met Lee for a visit in Waco, and he convinced her to leave the big-city life and all of the distractions that had derailed her game.

“I needed the change of scenery,” admitted Lee, and Goble needed her to team with standout Dylan Kim and return the Bears to relevance.

“Play here,” Goble said during his pitch, “and we’ll be really good again.”

And so of course it was Lee who helped send Baylor back to match play. With the team struggling to close out the round, Lee got up and down from behind the 18th green to give the team a two-shot cushion.

Now, they’re a scary No. 7 seed with nothing to lose against one of the pre-tournament favorites.

“I wouldn’t want to play us,” Goble said.

Arizona State claimed the third spot, thanks in large part to senior Monica Vaughn, who unknowingly captured the individual title after Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho collapsed on the 17th hole. The Sun Devils will face Florida in arguably the most intriguing matchup of the quarterfinals.

The Gators were the winningest team in college golf this season, but they have dealt with their share of drama this week. Marta Perez, who had paced Florida with an 11th-place finish at regionals, was hospitalized Thursday with a stomach virus and fever.

And so, the day before the first round, head coach Emily Glaser called sophomore Sam Wagner, who was en route to South Florida for a lesson, to tell her to book the next available flight to Chicago. Wagner didn’t arrive at the team hotel until 1:30 a.m. Friday, and she was at Rich Harvest Farms by 8:30.

Without seeing the course, Wagned approached the opening round like practice and shot 92 in the wind, rain and cold. The second round was canceled because of weather, but she returned Sunday and shot 75. On Monday, with her team needing a final-day rally, she shot 73 and helped the Gators climb seven spots on the leaderboard.

“You have to be pretty mentally tough to go turn around and do what she did,” Glaser said, “and she’s a tough kid.”

The other quarterfinal will feature Ohio State, which at No. 25 is the lowest-ranked team still remaining, against perennial power Southern Cal.

The teams can only hope that the match-play portion offers less of a challenge than the past few days.

Rich Harvest Farms’ penal design and miserable weather conditions led to some eye-opening numbers, as the course surrendered only one under-par team round and produced a combined score to par of 2,503 over.

Fortunately for Robertson, Goble and the rest of the coaches, the most stressful part of the week is over. 

All that matters now is securing three points. 

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:00 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 have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on 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 action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity, MAXimumChances.org, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.