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Men's regionals: Who's in, out for NCAAs?

By Ryan LavnerMay 14, 2018, 7:18 pm

The NCAA Division I men’s regionals got underway Monday at six sites around the country. The top five teams and low individual on a non-advancing team will advance to the May 25-30 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.

Here are the first-round results from the Raleigh (N.C.), Kissimmee (Fla.), Columbus (Ohio), Bryan (Texas), Norman (Okla.) and Stockton (Calif.) regionals:

Raleigh regional, at Lonnie Poole Golf Course:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Texas (-13)

Second place: Georgia Tech (-10)

Also in position: N.C. State (-9), Arizona State (-8), Santa Clara (-8)

Work to do: Augusta (-6), Middle Tennessee State (-4), Liberty (-4), Missouri (-4), Duke (-3), California (E)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Doug Ghim, Texas; Justin Burkhamer, Iona College (both at -7)

Skinny: Led by Hogan Award finalist Doug Ghim’s 7-under 64, Texas took the lead over both the top seed (Georgia Tech) and the host school (N.C. State). All four counting scores for the Longhorns were in the 60s. Playing on their home course, N.C. State’s Stephen Franken, a Freshman of the Year contender, and Benjamin Shipp shot 65 and 67, respectively, to keep the Wolfpack in the mix. They haven't been to an NCAAs as a team since 2011. Ninth-seeded Santa Clara is in position early, but the biggest surprise was Cal, the 2 seed that had to fly all the way across the country to play this regional. Player of the Year contender Collin Morikawa made four late birdies to salvage a 68, but only one of his teammates broke par on Day 1. The Golden Bears are already eight shots off the cut line at a regional that should have low scoring the rest of the way.

Kissimmee regional, at Reunion Resort:

Leaders (click here for full team scores): Florida and UCF (-12)

Third place: Kent State (-8)

Also in position: South Florida (-6), Vanderbilt (-5), North Carolina (-5)

Work to do: Arizona (-4), Jacksonville State (-2), Purdue (E)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): George Cunningham, Arizona; Chase Johnson, Kent State; UCF’s Juuso Kahlos and Bobby Bai (all at -5)

Skinny: Delayed by more than an hour because of heavy rain in the area, two Florida-based schools got off to a hot start at another low-scoring regional. The Gators, who shockingly failed to advance past regionals last year despite being the 1 seed, counted three scores of 69 or better on Day 1. UCF is the 10 seed in the regional, but the Knights are also the de facto host school, even though this isn’t their home track. Top-seeded Vanderbilt got off to a solid but unspectacular start, still inside the top-5 cut line, despite a poor opening round by top player Theo Humphrey, whose 75 was dropped.

Columbus regional, at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Oklahoma State (-3)

Second place: UNLV (E)

Also in position: Illinois (E), Northwestern (+8), Penn State (+9)

Work to do: Texas Tech (+13), Wake Forest (+15), Louisville (+16)

Individual leader (click here for full individual scores): Michael Feagles, Illinois (-3)

Skinny: No surprise to already see some separation between the legitimate contenders and pretenders in this regional, played on the most difficult course. All four of top-ranked Oklahoma State’s four counters shot par or better on the difficult track, while UNLV has three players inside the top 8 individually. Illinois seems to be peaking at the right time of year, with Michael Feagles leading the way with a 68 on Day 1 and their two senior leaders, Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer both shooting even par. The most interesting team to watch is Texas Tech, the 3 seed in the regional. The Red Raiders held out their best player, senior Fredrik Nilehn, for three events because of a back injury, and he returned to the lineup with a 78 that had to count. If not for Hurly Long’s 1-under 70, this team would already be toast.

Bryan regional, at Traditions Club:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Texas A&M (-9)

Second place: Baylor (-6)

Also in position: Clemson (-5), UCLA (E), South Carolina (+5)

Work to do: Ole Miss (+6), Bradley (+9), Kentucky (+10), Georgia (+15)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith, Texas A&M; Cooper Dossey, Baylor (all at -4)

Skinny: Each of the three top seeds in the regional came to play Monday, as they sit 1-2-3 on the leaderboard. The Aggies, playing on their home track, got 68s from both Phillips and Smith and only dropped a 1-over 73. Baylor, which reached match play a year ago, also is off to a strong start thanks to Dossey’s 68 and two other players who broke par. Both of those teams are already double digits ahead of the top-5 cut line. For fourth-seeded Kentucky, Chip McDaniel’s 69 was the lone bright spot – the Wildcats also counted scores of 77 and 79. Keep an eye on Ole Miss. The Rebels are one shot off the cut line after Day 1, but their star player, Braden Thornberry, opened with 69 and would be in the mix to advance as the low individual if the team can’t grab one of the available spots.

Norman regional, at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Oklahoma (-5)

Second place: Auburn (E), Arkansas (E), North Florida (E)

Also in position: San Diego State (+2)

Work to do: Florida State (+5), Missouri-Kansas City (+5), Nevada (+6), Pepperdine (+7), Virginia (+9)

Individual leader (click here for full individual scores): Blaine Hale, Oklahoma (-5)

Skinny: Defending national champion Oklahoma got off to a strong start at its home regional, with Blaine Hale and Quade Cummins leading the way for the Sooners with scores of 67 and 69, respectively. Surprisingly, the team had to drop a 75 from senior leader Grant Hirschman. A pair of SEC teams put together a solid even par round, while Missouri-Kansas City, the 12 seed in the regional, is lurking just a few shots off the cut line after Day 1. Only 15 players broke par on what proved to be a touch day for scoring.   

Stockton regional, at The Reserve at Spanos Park

Leader (click here for full team scores): Iowa State (-10)

Second place: Kansas (-7)

Also in position: Alabama (-6), TCU (-5), Stanford (-3)

Work to do: Oregon (+1), Colorado (+2), LSU (+5), Southern Cal (+7)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Daniel Sutton, Kansas; Brandon Wu, Stanford; Ryan Han, UC Davis (all at -5)

Skinny: This was by far the most surprising regional after 18 holes. Iowa State is a 10 seed, while Kansas is an 8 seed. There’s a lot of golf left to play, but those two teams outpacing Alabama, LSU and Co. is a stunner so far. Speaking of the Tigers, the top seed in the regional, they’re already eight shots off the cut line after a day in which only two of their five players broke par. Two shots worse than LSU, however, is Pac-12 champion Southern Cal. Despite having a huge advantage of playing in their home state, no Trojans player broke par, and that includes Haskins Award favorite Justin Suh. Oregon’s Norman Xiong appears primed to take advantage of Suh’s early missteps, opening with 68. The only team with a worse first-round score than USC was North Dakota State.

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Likely ROY Wise not looking past 'special' East Lake

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:05 pm

ATLANTA – Much like the PGA Tour Player of Year Award, voting for the Rookie of the Year Award is very much a rubber stamp this season.

Brooks Koepka is a lock to win the Jack Nicklaus Trophy after winning two majors - the U.S. Open and PGA Championship - despite missing a portion of the season with an injury. Similarly, Aaron Wise, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson, is the only rookie this year to advance to the Tour Championship, which is normally the threshold players use for voting for Rookie of the Year.

“I knew with the rookie class that we had it was going to be tough, and the players still have to vote but it’s definitely something that was important to me,” he said on Wednesday at East Lake. “My focus is just finishing strong this week and giving them a reason to vote for me.”

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For Wise, who had four top-10 finishes this season and begins the week 21st on the FedExCup point list, the chance to win the award is gratifying, but being among the best 30 players on Tour, and securing his spot in all four major championships next season, is an accomplishment worth savoring.

“To win Rookie of the Year you have to have a solid season, but to make it to East Lake, so many guys don’t get this far. You really have to have a special season and this is really special,” Wise said.

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Stanford returns home to share Evian celebration

By Randall MellSeptember 19, 2018, 5:33 pm

Angela Stanford’s eyes welled with tears when her flight touched down at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in her return from winning the Evian Championship.

When she lands from the south, as she did Monday, she always looks for the towering grain elevators in her Saginaw hometown. She also always looks for downtown Fort Worth’s skyline.

She got teary with the replica of the Evian Championship trophy in her carry-on in the luggage bin above her seat, knowing she wasn’t bringing it home just for her.

But for her mother, Nan, who’s battling a second bout with breast cancer.

For her father, Steve, who got her started in the game.

For other family and friends.

For Shady Oaks, the club Ben Hogan made famous, where she is a member.

And for TCU, her alma mater.

She realized how empty she felt in so many returns from major championships.

She’s 40 now.

She won in her 76th try in a major.

For so long, Stanford believed she had what it took to win a major, but that only made the string of disappointments harder.

“So I remembered what it felt like coming home from so many disappointments, but not this time,” Stanford said. “This time I got to bring something home for everyone to see.”

When Stanford got off the plane, her parents were among a group of family and friends waiting to greet her. So was her TCU coach, Angie Larkin, who brought along the Horned Frogs mascot, Superfrog.

Tour pros Kristy McPherson, Dori Carter, Kendall Dye and Emory University coach and former tour pro Katie Futcher were all in Fort Worth helping Stanford celebrate.

“It was pretty cool,” Stanford said. “Of course, I asked them all if they wanted to see the trophy.”

She pulled it out of her carry-on and never put it back.

“It’s a heavy trophy, but I told them I’m carrying this everywhere,” Stanford said.

There was a celebration dinner with family and friends Monday night, and another celebration with friends on Tuesday.

“I think it’s just the start of many celebrations with more friends to see,” Stanford said.

Stanford went to work with a new swing coach about a year ago, Todd Kolb, from Sioux Falls, S.D. In her flight home, she thought about how grateful she was for all the help poured into her game, not just the good work Kolb is doing, but the foundation important figures in her life helped to lay. She thought about the lessons and wisdom Amy Fox, Mike Wright and Joe Hallett passed along.

“I’m still using things I learned from my first instructor,” Stanford said. “Amy Fox is a huge reason I’m playing on tour. Mike Wright is a huge reason why I’ve won on tour. Joe Hallett helped me navigate through a tough time in my career.

“They were all important to my winning Sunday. They all gave me building blocks, and they’ve all helped lay the foundation to what I’m learning now from Todd.”

Stanford said being able to share her gratefulness made her return home special.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “It’s been everything you could imagine it would be.”

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Finau plays with 'idol' Tiger, but don't get excited

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 5:05 pm

ATLANTA – This has been a season of firsts for Tony Finau.

He played his first Masters – after severely injuring his ankle, no less – and all four of the World Golf Championship events for the first time. He also made his first Ryder Cup team.

On Tuesday at East Lake there was another first. He played a nine-hole practice round with Tiger Woods.

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“It was pretty special for me because it's the first time I ever played with him in a practice round, tournament, whatever the case may be,” Finau said. “I've been on Tour four years now, and that's the first time I ever had the chance to play with him. Again, my golfing idol. That was a special day for me yesterday to play with him, pick his brain a little bit, and just get to know him a little bit better.”

Woods and Finau played with Bryson DeChambeau, who has become the popular choice to be a potential partner for Woods at next week’s Ryder Cup. Some have speculated that Finau could partner with Phil Mickelson in Paris, but Tuesday’s practice round created the scenario of another rookie possibly playing with Woods. Finau seemed to quickly dismissed that idea.

“I don't see a lot of potential playing with Tiger,” Finau said.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Pros share condolences for slain Iowa State player

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 19, 2018, 5:01 pm

As details continue to emerge surrounding the murder of 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena, multiple professional athletes took to Twitter to share their condolences for the former Iowa State star.

Arozamena was found dead Monday at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa, where she was playing a round of golf by herself when she was allegedly attacked by a nearby homeless man. Twenty-two-year-old Collin Daniel Richards is charged with first-degree murder after allegedly stabbing Arozamena and leaving her body in a pond on the golf course.

Arozamena was the 2018 Big XII champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year, and she was a native of Spain. As the Iowa State community mourned her death, fellow Spanish athletes shared their thoughts, including former Masters champ Sergio Garcia and NBA star Pau Gasol:

Arozamena's amateur accomplishments extended beyond the collegiate setting, as she also won the European Amateur Championship in July. Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam tweeted a photo she took with Arozamena at a previous event, calling the incident "horrendous."

Iowa State is planning to honor Arozamena Saturday during their home football game against Akron, with the team wearing "CBA" decals bearing her initials.