College Review: 'Bama, Cal not completely rebuilding

By Ryan LavnerOctober 1, 2014, 4:48 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll take a look back at the main storylines in college golf.

Biggest takeaway: Alabama still has a realistic shot at the three-peat

Keep in mind that hasn’t happened since Houston in the mid-1960s. At Graeme McDowell’s event in Alabama, the Crimson Tide held the 36-hole lead before a nine-shot swing on the final day with North Florida. Among the four counters, the Tide shot a combined 7 over on the back nine to squander an opportunity for its first title of the season – a finish that was a “disaster,” according to coach Jay Seawell

With the senior core no longer in Tuscaloosa, it was clear that this Alabama team wasn’t going to be as strong as in years’ past. But these mistakes are better made in October than May, and, diminished or not, this is still a top-5 program. Sophomore Robby Shelton remains one of the top two players in college golf, and senior Tom Lovelady, the team’s No. 5 man a year ago, earned his best career finish (2nd) at Shoal Creek. Bet on the Tide hitting its stride come springtime. 


Team of the week: Wake Forest 

Three Wake players finished in the top 10 as the Demon Deacons shot 38 under par – one shot off the school record – during the three-round event to edge Auburn by a shot. It was a stark departure to the team’s first outing, an eighth-place finish at the loaded Carpet Capital. Junior Davis Womble has opened his 2014-15 campaign with back-to-back top-10s, Paul McBride was a team-best T-3 at Primland and Will Zalatoris, the 2014 U.S. Junior champion, hasn’t finished worse than 21st in his first two college starts. This team’s arrow is pointed up, especially with Cameron Young, one of the top junior players in the country, committed to play for the Demon Deacons in fall 2015.


 

California sophomore Cameron Shaw (Cal athletic dept.)


Player of the week: Cameron Shaw, Cal

A week after finishing second at the Windon Memorial, the Golden Bears sophomore made the first albatross in school history en route to sharing medalist honors at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate in Washington. Shaw, who tied with Washington State’s Sang Lee at 6-under 204, made a 2 on the par-5 10th hole at Palouse Ridge during a final-round 71. He used a 2-iron (!) from 258 yards. “The coaches talk about quantum leaps,” he said, “and this was by far the biggest one for me.” 

Honorable mention: Joey Petronio, North Florida. With a career-low, seven-birdie 66 in the final round at Shoal Creek, the Ospreys junior leapfrogged Alabama’s Tom Lovelady to win for the second time in his career.


Biggest disappointment: Virginia

In a weak, nine-team field, the Cavaliers could finish no better than sixth at the Primland Collegiate Invite, 19 shots behind winner Wake Forest. Senior Denny McCarthy, a U.S. Amateur semifinalist, World Amateur Team Championship representative and one of Golf Channel’s top 10 players to watch this season, failed to break par in any of the three rounds and finished 33rd. Last season he was outside the top 10 only three times in 12 starts. Virginia was also missing stud freshman Austin Truslow, who played the teams first two events.


Keep an eye on: Cal surprising early

Like Alabama, the Golden Bears were also thought to be in rebuilding mode this season. One of the most prolific winners in the match-play era, Cal returned to the winner’s circle last week but with a decidedly different look. Gone are Max Homa and Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver and Joel Stalter. Enter three freshmen and two sophomores, and Cal finished as the only team under par during its 13-shot victory last week at the Windon Memorial. The Bears followed that performance with a solo third at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate, where sophomore Cameron Shaw earned medalist honors. “It’s early,” Cal coach Steve Desimone said in an email, “but I have that instinct that tells me we’re onto something special again.”


What you may have missed: A week after the Golfweek Conference Challenge became the first women’s NCAA Division I event to put live scoring in the players’ hands, the same system was implemented once again at a men’s event in Pullman, Wash. (The majority of Division II and III tournaments have already implemented player live scoring, because of a lack of volunteers.) Besides the obvious concerns about distraction and receiving information, it’s clear that this is the future of the sport – the system is faster, easier and cuts out the third party (volunteers). 

Getty Images

Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

Getty Images

After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

Getty Images

In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

Getty Images

Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."