Giving thanks

By Jason SobelNovember 24, 2011, 3:45 am

Whenever I return to my hometown of Islip, N.Y., for the Thanksgiving holiday, I try to tee it up with family and friends.

A few years ago, I got a little carried away, playing 45 holes in 30-degree weather the day before Turkey Day. Dad joined me for the first 18, followed by a conglomeration of cousins and buddies. Others have undoubtedly played more golf in colder conditions, but for me personally, on that course, that was the day heaven froze over. (You know, if heaven was an overpriced muni that lacked enough bunker rakes.)

Sitting at the dinner table 24 hours later, though, I found I had plenty for which to be thankful. Great relatives and friends. The game that we all love. And, perhaps more than anything, regained feeling in my frostbitten fingertips.

The following is a list of 50 things – in no particular order – to be thankful for in golf this year. And it’s preceded by thanks to many Twitter friends who chimed in on the assignment, too.

Discussion: What are you thankful for?

The perfect swing tip. For every 99 little pieces of advice that don’t compute, there’s that one tip that unlocks the secret to a better move through the ball. For a few holes, at least.

The second guy. You know, the one who makes that 4-foot putt every single time.

The handicap system. You want to tee it up against world No. 1 Luke Donald? Mark up the scorecard and it's a fair fight.

“Caddyshack.” More than three decades after it was released, it remains side-splittingly hilarious.

“Caddyshack II.” Yes, it’s awful … but doesn’t that fact help make you appreciate the genius of the original film even more?

Play-for-pay. If a baseball player has a terrible season, his bank account isn't affected. That doesn't happen in golf.

@_p_n_k: early morning dew on the green! It's the perfect way to read a putt.

@sallyoRI: Living next to a par 3 for an endless supply of golf balls.

@pwand03: Wind in your face on 1 means wind at your back on 18.

Pro golfers on Twitter. Unfiltered thoughts – from their thumbs to your eyes.

Michael Whan. After years of front office futility, the LPGA is in good hands. 

Q-School. Every professional sport should have it. Play well enough over a finite period and you get to join the most elite level of your profession. Pressure personified.

Caddies. Not talking about the Steve Williams variety, but the high school kids who earn some spending money lugging clubs while learning valuable lessons about the game.

@jgolf1: I'm thankful for 460CC club heads. That's the only way my swing would produce 280-yard drives.

@deucerolle: I'm thankful that we have 3 inches of snow in Minnesota and I am able to go 5 months without hitting a bad shot

@MrSmiles19: patience, perseverance, providing a sanctuary of peace...and mulligans for my balls in the drink

Cloudy and 62 degrees. Shhh. Here’s a little secret, fellow golfers: When it’s overcast and slightly chilly, most of the fair-weather hackers are too scared to play. These are the days you can fly around the course, maybe even get in 36 holes.

RBC and Boeing Company. It may sound overly NASCAR to thank the sponsors, but these two are responsible for saving the Heritage and keeping a PGA Tour event at Harbour Town, one of the best venues on the annual schedule.

@dreemjar: I'm thankful for 'concrete' evidence that golf gods exist...only in the form of long, favorable bounces.

@dtstewart: thankful for some extra cash in my pocket #birdieon18=$

@justinkittle: No CBA or players union! Independent contractors FTW!

Yani Tseng’s success. Eleven worldwide wins this season, seven in LPGA-sanctioned events. Pure domination.

Yani Tseng’s potential. She owns five major titles at age 22. She may not become the greatest player of all time, but it will be a blast watching her try.

Augusta National Golf Club. If you have to ask why, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Finding “it” at the range. Like winning the lottery – and not having to share the prize with anyone else.

The emergence of Luke Donald. The world’s No. 1-ranked player doesn’t bomb it a mile off the tee, doesn’t look like an NFL linebacker and isn’t intimidating. In today’s age, when most courses are beefed up beyond recognition, it’s good to see hard work and perseverance pay off more than brute strength.

@joejablonski27: Thankful that Tiger has finally seemed to genuinely have fun in a team competition. That smile was the best in a long time

@mps1968: In no particular order...I'm thankful for Gold Bond, Bandon Dunes and Natalie Gulbis on Twitter.

@Ebud867: I am thankful to live in the greatest place on earth to be a golfer. Northern California

Reverse sandbaggers. That guy in the next cubicle who brags he’s a 7, but plays to a 14? Let him talk. Then take his cash.

Drive for show, putt for dough. The 320-yard drive counts for one stroke, just like the 10-foot knee-knocker.

No trades, no free agency. Got a favorite golfer? Your allegiances will never change because he left to play in for another city.

Twilight rates. It’s like Happy Hour for golfers, quickly followed by Happy Hour.

@MarkHasenjager: Every round of golf with your dad; you never know which one will be the last.

@beniswinning: PGA Tour players are non-union contractors, decide their own fate/schedule & have a great pension & can't strike

@CoreyTaft: The new Pinehurst # 2. Coore and Crenshaw brought it back to life.

Jason Kokrak on the PGA Tour. A few years back, I informally polled a handful of Nationwide players as to whom amongst them would be the next PGA Tour star. They all said Jason Day – which has turned out to be a pretty good pick. Common consensus for the upcoming season is Kokrak, who could challenge Gary Woodland as the longest hitter out there.

The 19th hole. The last hole of the day is where every golfer can prove he’s a scratch handicap.

Every sentence Lee Trevino has ever spoken. Like this: “You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.”

@jkjones21: Thankful I didn't have a 'Kevin Na 16' all golf season despite my best efforts.

@tylerag97: Steve Williams for being such a jerk that he made Tiger look like a good guy!

@JeffOBrienJOB: thankful for pencils with erasers

The perfect yardage. Those times when you step up to the ball, know it’s exactly a stock 8-iron, then strike it to pin-high.

Amateur golf. Russell Henley and Harris English won Nationwide Tour events while still in school. Patrick Cantlay posted a 60 on the PGA Tour. Tomorrow’s stars are getting better every day.

Lame golf jokes. Sure, you roll your eyes, but a day on the links with some stranger is always a little more fun when he tells one such as this: “A man and a friend are playing golf one day at their local golf course. One of the guys is about to chip onto the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course. He stops in mid-swing, takes off his golf cap, closes his eyes, and bows down in prayer. His friend says: “Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man.” The man then replies: “Yeah, well, we were married 35 years.”

Fashion-conscious pros. Whether you like the looks of players like Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter, you can at least credit them for having a personal sense of style.

Metal spikes. Most courses won’t let you wear ‘em anymore – and for good reason. But nothing sounds better than a pair of metal spikes click-clacking down the cartpath.

@David4242: I am thankful for Erik Compton, a guy who gives the word 'heart' both a figurative and literal meaning.

@mcd3putt: regardless of triple digits... thankful for rounds at spyglass and pebble with dad and two brothers in October.

@dfols18: thankful for golf... time spent with my dad before he passed and now the time spent with my daughter teaching her the game.

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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.”

Getty Images

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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