Backspin Tiger Cub Playoff Thrills

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
TIGER CUB: Just hours after falling short of winning his third U.S. Open, Tiger Woods joined his wife in an Orlando hospital to welcome their first child into the world. Born Sam Alexis Woods, the baby girl was delivered about a month before the due date, when it was speculated Tiger would miss his title defense of the British Open.
 
BackspinSpeculation on how fatherhood will effect Tiger and his winning ways have come from every corner of the earth, from seemingly every pundit; even from his fellow peers and from the likes of Nicklaus and Palmer. Of course, we will all just have to wait and see, but odds are it shouldn't curtail Tiger from getting into the winner's circle with his usual regularity. And speaking of odds, Ladbrokes in London had odds on little Sam Alexis playing on the LPGA Tour sometime in the future at 50-1.
 
Michelle Wie
At least Michelle Wie won't have to go through this mess again. (Getty Images)
NO MORE HEAT EXHAUSTION: Michelle Wie announced that she would be pulling out of the John Deere Classic in mid-July, citing her lack of strength - due to her long layoff from regular golf workouts - would be too tough to overcome on a lengthy PGA TOUR course.
 
BackspinWie and her handlers appear to have finally come to their senses as the 17-year-old Hawaiian will bypass her yearly go-around at the 7,193-yard, par-71 TPC at Deere Run. Although it seems it couldn't have gotten worse than last year's strange episode at the John Deere, in which she withdrew after nine holes of the second round due to heat exhaustion, it very easily could have considering the 80s she's been putting up lately playing alongside the ladies. The bigger question is: How will she fare at this week's U.S. Women's Open.
 
GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWALS: Speaking of Wie and her withdrawal, she was joined by a quite a few other big names who announced similar plans this past week. Lefty pulled out of the Travelers due to his on-going wrist injury; Tiger opted out of his title defense this week at the Buick Open; Angel Cabrera will stay put in Argentina and miss the Open de France; and former British Open winner David Duval announced his pull-out of this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.
 
BackspinEveryone pretty much knew that there was a less than zero percent chance that Phil was actually going to play last week after his troubles at Oakmont, and ditto for Tiger, with a about the same probability that he was going to be defending his title at the Buick Open this week with little Sam Alexis just a few days old. Cabrera excuse? Well, he's not as young as he used to be; therefore, we imagine U.S. Open hangovers take a bit longer to get over. And as for Duval, it's assumed he pulled out to be with his wife, who is having a difficult pregnancy and is on bed rest with their second child on the way.
 
DRUG TESTING: PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem spoke last week about how the TOUR is getting closer to making rules on performance-enhancing drugs and inching closer to implementing testing. With Tiger Woods stating that he would like to see drug-testing put into action ASAP, the commissioner is hardly alone on an island in bringing this to reality.
 
BackspinDespite admitting that he doesn't feel that the TOUR has a problem with illegal drugs in any way, Finchem realized that getting a plan in place would be in the best interest of the TOUR. And it only makes sense, especially after seeing the bombshells that other sports have had to suffer through, most notably baseball's seemingly never-ending saga. That, and Tiger said so.
 
ROOKIE MEET WORLD NO. 1: Rookie In-Kyung Kim played alongside Lorena Ochoa in the final round of the Wegmans LPGA and trailed by one entering Sunday's play. It seemed a long shot for a rookie to overtake the world's top-ranked player, but that's indeed what the teenager from South Korea did. In fact, she held a three-shot lead standing on the 17th hole late in the day. Yet, four holes later - two in regulation and two playoff holes, it was Ochoa lofting the trophy.
 
BackspinEven if Kim had held on for the win, the story would have still been focused on Ochoa and her lack of closing out tournaments. And on the eve of the LPGA's third major of the year, the world No. 1 would have hated to have those kinds of questions swirling around when she is still in pursuit of her first career major championship. Now, however, she goes to Pine Needles with an extra boost of confidence - and the fact that she finally notched her first playoff win in five tries.
 
HUNTING SEASON: A year after finishing second in this event, Hunter Mahan got things started in fine fashion by posting an 8-under 62 in Thursday's opening round at the Travelers. He then finished what he started in dramatic fashion, stuffing his approach shot on the first hole of a playoff to within a foot for his first PGA TOUR win.
 
Backspin Although the crowd was behind local fan favorite Jay Williamson, Mahan came up big despite almost giving away the tournament late in his round. Three-putt bogeys at the 16th and 17th gave away his two-shot lead and he came to the 18th needing birdie to force the playoff. He knocked his a approach to 7 feet and rolled in the birdie much to the chagrin of Williamson. He now finds himself with a trip to Hawaii to start the 2008 season at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
EMOTIONAL VICTORY: Virginia Tech student Drew Weaver defeated Australia's Tim Stewart, 2 and 1, to become the first American to win the British Amateur tournament since 1979. With the victory, the 20-year-old earned an invitation to the British Open at Carnoustie in Scotland next month and will also be teeing it up in next year's Masters Tournament.
 
BackspinFollowing his emotional win, Weaver promptly dedicated his victory to the 32 victims who lost their lives on the Blacksburg, Va., campus back in April, in what was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Said Weaver of his win, 'I've been proud to represent the college here this week and to give them something positive.' Pretty heady stuff for a 20-year-old amateur.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The head greenskeeper at Carnoustie, criticized by some golfers at the 1999 British Open for the outrageously difficult course set-up, was recently suspended from his duties; John Daly won the Telus World Skins event for the second straight year; Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry reeled off six consecutive birdies on the back nine Tuesday en route to a one-stroke victory over Brad Faxon and Zach Johnson in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in the Rhode Island; and Angel Cabrera returned to wild celebrations in his native Argentina following the country's first major victory in 40 years.
 
BackspinHere's betting that most players hope Carnoustie greenskeeper John Philp's suspension lasts through July 22nd; Daly's played in 12 PGA TOUR events this season and has managed to win a mere $117, 728. His haul in the Skins game was $220,000; While Cink and Henry took the top prize, the all-ladies team of Juli Inkster and Natalie Gublis finished ninth in the 10-team field; Cabrera was last seen sticking his mug and the U.S. Open trophy through a sunroof while driving throught the streets of Buenos Aires.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Travelers
  • Full Coverage - Wegmans LPGA
  • Getty Images

    Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

    By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

    STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.

    Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?

    The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.

    “Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.

    Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.

    “I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”

    Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


    Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.

    “They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”

    After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.

    And the Wildcats better rest up.

    Alabama looks unstoppable.

    “They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”

    Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.

    After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.

    They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.

    Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.

    “It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”

    They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.

    “We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”

    That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.

    The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.

    “They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.

    It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”

    Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.

    They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.

    Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.

    “I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”

    Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.

    Getty Images

    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)

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.

    Scoring:

    TV Times (all times ET):

    Wednesday
    4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)