McIlroy contending despite quadruple-bogey

By Jason SobelMay 31, 2012, 6:02 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – You can watch plenty of elite golfers compete in plenty of tournaments without ever witnessing the scene that unfolded Thursday morning on the 12th hole at Muirfield Village.

With his tee shot on the par-3, Rory McIlroy found the back-left greenside bunker, which doesn’t sound too awful until you consider the severe downhill slope on the green running away from him and toward an adjacent creek. Uncharacteristically, though perhaps not surprisingly, McIlroy’s bunker shot hit the green, then kept rolling … and rolling … and rolling … all the way into the water hazard.

And so, with no acceptable place from which to take a drop, the world’s second-ranked player instead took a stroll all the way back to the front teebox, stopping only to inquire of a golf writer: “Do you see a drop zone over there?”

(Note to aspiring professional golfers: If you ever need to know where a drop zone is, consult a golf writer.)

A drop, a chunked wedge, another bunker pitch and two putts later, McIlroy trudged off the hole – just his third of the Memorial Tournament opening round – with an unsightly quadruple-bogey. The rest of his opening nine holes didn’t go much better. He made back-to-back birdies, but also lost two more balls in the water en route to a 3-over 39.

It was almost enough to sound the alarms from across the pond. Coming off consecutive missed cuts at The Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship – flagship events on the PGA Tour and European Tour, respectively – McIlroy has been hearing critical whispers about his dedication to the craft.

He isn’t working hard enough. He’s spreading himself too thin by playing both tours. He’s spending too much time globetrotting with his tennis pro girlfriend.

This is a classic case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. The facts are that his work ethic is what elevated him to his current status; he’s been traversing the globe playing competitive tournaments since he was a teenager; and being in love has never directly correlated to making bogeys.

Instead, McIlroy is a victim of the 'superstar conundrum,' which can be clearly defined thusly: The more success someone earns, the more scrutiny he receives for not earning even more success. Consider it the ultimate Catch-22 for anyone who has achieved certain accomplishments in his given field.

“I think that is the way of life in anything if you're in the spotlight, you're in the public eye,” McIlroy said. “If I'd have missed two cuts in a row a couple years ago, no one would have batted an eyelid, but nowadays it's a little different.”

No golfer – heck, perhaps no athlete in the world – has been the subject of as much armchair analysis over the last few years as Tiger Woods, who understands what McIlroy has been enduring as of late.

“Obviously the criticism or scrutiny is because he's been so consistent over the last six, eight months,” said Woods, who posted an opening-round 2-under 70. “He's not just playing in the States. He's not just playing in Europe. He's playing all over the world, and he's playing at a high level for a very long time. People's expectations obviously are increased.”

As part of the conundrum, Rory was on the verge of facing even more scrutiny with his third straight missed cut after those opening nine holes, except he quelled any speculation nearly before it ever began, posting a 4-under 32 on the course’s front side – his second nine of the day – to somewhat miraculously shoot a 1-under 71 that left him five shots off first-round leader Scott Stallings.

The clear turning point came on the par-5 fifth hole. Just moments after impact on his drive, McIlroy shouted, “Fore left!” and pointed in that general vicinity. As it turned out, his ball wasn’t very far off line, hanging up in the left rough. Two shots later, he was chipping in for an eagle that minutes earlier had seemed as unlikely as posting an under-par score did following that quadruple-bogey.

“After the last few weeks, I was just like, here we go again,” he said. “But I hung in there well, am proud of myself for the way I just fought back. To finish the round under par I thought was a really good effort.”

Therein lies the reason for the scrutiny, the entire principle behind the 'superstar conundrum.' The expectations placed on McIlroy are based on the fact that with a U.S. Open triumph and five other professional victories, he deserves them. It’s the very reason why players who have achieved lesser amounts of success aren’t as heavily criticized.

On Thursday, he proved once again that critical analysis is hardly a deterrent of success. If McIlroy can claim the title come Sunday, he may not be the first player with a quadruple-bogey on his card to win, but he most certainly would be the first whose week commenced with a long walk back to the teebox after his second shot on a par-3 hole.

Just call it the ultimate comeback.

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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.”

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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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