Hawk's Nest: Tiger's tourney not what it used to be

By John HawkinsJune 30, 2014, 2:45 pm

You think golf has some stupid rules? My brief dalliance with World Cup soccer has ended because of a lack of sufficient street cred. Why do teams dress 23 players and only 14 can play? Why do they call it a “hand ball” if it hits your shoulder? Why does every referee look like he just failed a lie-detector test and still lives in a guesthouse once owned by Ma Barker?

As each match begins, the participants emerge from the stadium tunnel while holding hands with the children. Very touching, and once the country’s national anthems have been sung, you’d swear the Righteous Brothers will be showing up any minute.

Then the clock starts. And never stops.

In soccer, sportsmanship is obviously a four-letter word, much like “dive” and “fake.” I’ve seen better acting over the last few weeks than in any Kevin Costner movie, but it’s the offsides thing that really itches my britches. In a game where two goals amounts to a big day at the office, why are there restrictions on where players can go?

Hey, I tried my best to catch the World Cup fever. All I got was the sniffles and a yellow card for failing to leap over high buildings in search of the drama.

DIFFERENT YEAR, SAME story. When the PGA Tour returned to Washington, D.C. in 2007, there were two big reasons to believe the tournament would quickly become one of the biggest non-majors on the schedule. Tiger Woods + Congressional seemed like a can’t miss in the early-summer slot previously held by the Western Open, which morphed into a FedEx Cup playoff event and continues to thrive.

That hasn’t been the case in the nation’s capital. Fields have gotten progressively weaker, which makes no sense, given the quality of the venue. Players say they want to compete on the best courses and will tell you it influences where they decide to play, leaving us to wonder if resentment of Woods has something to do with the poor attendance.

“Puzzling to me but true, players haven’t made it a priority to support a guy who bought all our primary and secondary homes, like they have with Arnie and Jack,” one veteran Tour pro told me.

As sure as I was that the product at Congressional has gotten weaker, I was still surprised by the results. The world ranking tabulates strength of field at every tournament to determine value for player performance. The U.S. Open, for instance, was worth 789 total points (Martin Kaymer received 100 for winning), about twice as many as were dispersed at Colonial.

The Quicken Loans National had just 305 – nine fewer than the week before in Hartford, which was an unhealthy event just a few years ago before Travelers stepped up as the title sponsor to salvage the its existence. Just five of the top 20 players in the world were at Congressional. The two highest ranked players in the field (Woods and Jason Day) missed the cut.

Here’s a look at how the D.C. Tour stop has fared in terms of point distribution during the tournament’s eight years:

2007 507
2008 298
2009 329
2010 308
2011 252
2012 289
2013 280
2014 305

And while we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at how a few other events have done in 2014:

Arnold Palmer Invitational   406
Shell Houston Open   461
RBC Heritage (Hilton Head)  332
Memorial      541

So the Tiger tourney started with a very strong cast – deeper than Bay Hill, comparable to Memorial – but immediately dropped off to a standard of a mid-level tournament. Very strange. How does that happen? I talked to several Tour pros and got a variety of answers.

“It’s a combination of run-up to the British Open and Tiger and Tim [commissioner Finchem’s] reluctance to make a phone call to the guys to support the event,” says one. “The D.C. market is a very critical one to us. Everybody should know that.”

Jim Furyk was a regular at the tournament until passing on it this year. “I’ve always played,” he said. “It’s a great course. I skipped to be with my family for the month – I needed to cut a couple of events this year and it fit best in my schedule not to play. It probably fits bad for a lot of guys between majors and summer vacations with families.”

When you look back at the old Western Opens, however, the fields were always outstanding, and it was almost always played over Fourth of July weekend. I think D.C. hasn’t lived up to its potential for a deeper reason: the game’s top-tier players can be choosier about where they compete because they’re not playing to pay the bills.

The FedEx Cup format, which also started in ’07, made the season much more back-weighted – there aren’t many weeks off for the big boys between mid-July and the end of September. You need to go into that stretch mentally refreshed and physically ready.

Tiger might have made them all rich, but he didn’t make them stupid.

POOR PATRICK REED. The guy gets ambushed for calling himself one of the top five players in the world, and then he starts playing like No. 105. Reed was on fire until telling everybody how good he was after winning at Doral, which I found kind of cool, although most golf fans didn’t.

Reed absolutely vanished after the victory in Miami, missing the cut in five of his next eight starts and managing no better than a T-35 in the three events where he did make it to the weekend. He also became a father for the first time.

Then came this past weekend, when his two-stroke lead after 54 holes turned into a tie for 11th.

It takes a lot of work to fall that far over the course of 18 holes, even on a Sunday, further proof that Reed obviously annoyed the golf gods with his strong sense of self-belief. Pragmatically speaking, however, there is a more adequate explanation for Reed’s slump – and the Congressional thump.

You can go back and look at the career trajectories of many ultra-talented young players. They light it up early and think they’ve got this game by the scruff of the neck, then falter. Woods certainly dealt with that scenario after his four-victory season in 1997, although he would blame his poor ’98 on swing changes. After the fact, of course.

Another factor to consider: Reed’s first two wins came against weak fields at the Wyndham Championship and Humana Challenge. I can’t state it often enough – it’s so much easier to win a Tour event when 80 percent of the game’s top players are home watching football.

His triumph at Doral was obviously a big deal, but that was a weird week that included numerous ill-advised pins during the second round, when the wind destroyed scorecards without any discretion. It was also the first trip to a venue that had undergone a substantial redesign. The veterans and top-tier guys lost a valuable advantage. Experience and local knowledge basically became worthless.

As for the backlash to his boastfulness, Reed played it very smart when asked about it last Saturday evening. He said there hasn’t been any. “I haven’t heard anything negative from the guys out here,” was his response. “They all believe in themselves, believe they’re one of the top players. You have to. You can’t play this game with a lack of confidence.”

Boy, if that’s not a commercial answer, I don’t know what is. Give the young man some credit. At least he finally made it back to the media center and and fielded the question.

Getty Images

Maguire's storied Duke career comes to an end

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 8:39 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – After losing in the quarterfinals here at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Duke coach Dan Brooks gathered his team and walked back toward the 18th hole. He wanted to get away and deliver a parting speech to senior Leona Maguire, one of the most important players in program history.

“I feel like I didn’t say enough, and I feel like I didn’t say it right,” he said afterward. “I guess that’s inevitable when dealing with a player who has meant so much.”

Maguire’s heralded Duke career came to an end Tuesday when she and her teammates dropped their quarterfinal match to Southern Cal, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2. Maguire did her part, winning, 1 up, against USC’s Jennifer Chang, but it still wasn’t enough.

Maguire will go down as one of the best players not just in Duke’s storied history, but all time in college golf. She’s a two-time Player of the Year. She finished with the best scoring average (70.93) in Division I women’s golf history. She had a record 32 competitive rounds in the 60s. She spent 135 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, another record.

The 23-year-old from Ireland is the rare collegian who turned down guaranteed LPGA status to return to school to earn her degree and try to win a NCAA title with twin sister Lisa, the team’s No. 5 player. Ultimately, they never reached the championship match.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said softly outside the clubhouse. “The experiences, the memories, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Maguire said that she’s turning pro soon and has a full schedule upcoming. She’ll play the ShopRite LPGA Classic and then try to capitalize on her full status on the developmental Symetra circuit.

Asked about her potential at the next level, Brooks said that Maguire can be a future Hall of Famer.

“She’s the hardest worker and the smartest player I’ve ever coached,” he said. “I’m really going to miss her.”

Geoff Ogilvy and family at the 2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play. Getty Images

Notes: Ogilvy moving family to Australia

By Doug FergusonMay 22, 2018, 6:55 pm

Geoff Ogilvy's immediate future involves fewer golf tournament and longer flights.

Ogilvy has been contemplating in the last few years moving back home to Australia, and after discussing it with his Texas-born wife, Juli, they plan to return to Melbourne shortly after Christmas.

Their daughter, Phoebe, turns 12 in October and will be starting the seventh grade in Australia. They have two sons, Jasper (10) and Harvey (8). The Ogilvys figured that waiting much longer to decide where to live would make it tougher on the children.

''We just talked about it, for lots of reasons, and we kept making pros and cons. Juli was strong on it,'' Ogilvy said. ''We're excited. I'm at the point where I'm not going to play 27 times a year. It's going to be brutal to play from there. But you've got to choose life.''

Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and he counts three World Golf Championships among his eight PGA Tour victories. He also has won the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship and has reached No. 3 in the world.

His last victory was in 2014, and Ogilvy has slipped to No. 416 in the world.

He has been dividing some of his time with a golf course design business with projects that include Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas, (including a ''Little Nine'' course that opened last year), a renovation in China and a 36-hole course called Peninsula Kingwood in Melbourne.

Ogilvy, who grew up at Victoria Golf Club, still has a home on the 14th hole of the West Course at Royal Melbourne. If he didn't move back home, Ogilvy figured he would be spending six months in Melbourne and six months in Scottsdale, Arizona.

''It's a feeling more than anything,'' he said. ''Scottsdale is dreamy. We live a great existence. I know what I'm getting there. If we didn't move back, we'd be a six-and-six family. The kids get out of school, and they're bounced back and forth. It's not good for continuity.''

As for golf?

Ogilvy narrowly kept his full PGA Tour card last year and this season has been a struggle. He hasn't sorted out what kind of schedule he would keep, understanding it would involve long trips from Sydney to Dallas.

The immediate goal would be to play a heavy fall schedule and miss most of the West Coast swing to get acclimated to the move.

''And then we'll start working it out,'' he said.

US OPEN QUALIFYING: The U.S. Open likes to consider its championship the most democratic of the majors, and it has it just about right again this year. With the addition of 23 players who became exempt by being in the top 60 in the world ranking, 77 players in the 156-man field are exempt from qualifying. That number could go up slightly with another cutoff for the top 60 the Sunday before U.S. Open week.

The U.S. Open is the only American major that does not offer automatic exemptions to PGA Tour winners. Five such winners from this season still face qualifying, including Patton Kizzire, who has won twice (OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open). The others are Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Andrew Landry and Aaron Wise.

Kizzire is at No. 63 in the world, followed by Wise (66) and Landry (69). All have three weeks to crack the top 60.

Until 2011, the U.S. Open offered exemptions to multiple PGA Tour winners since the previous Open. It leans heavily on the world ranking, as do the other majors. It also awards recent major champions and top finishers from the previous U.S. Open, along with the Tour Championship field from the previous year, to reward a consistently strong season.

''All of the tours around the world have bought into the official world golf ranking rankings,'' said Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director of rules and open championships. ''And this provides just the right place for us to be with exemptions. We don't have to get into the weighting of one tour over another, this championship versus that event, a week-to-week event. We focus on the official world golf rankings and it seems to get us the right players for our championship.''

FICKLE GAME: Careers can change quickly in golf. No one can attest to that as well as Michael Arnaud.

The 36-year-old Arnaud had never finished better than a tie for fifth in his 49 starts on the Web.com Tour, and that was three years ago. His career earnings were just over $130,000. He had only made it into one previous event this year, and he wasn't in the field at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina last week until Kent Bulle withdrew on the eve of the event.

Arnaud tied the course record with a 60 in the second round. He closed with a 63 and won by five shots.

He won $126,000 and moved to No. 13 on the money list, giving him a reasonable chance to reach the PGA Tour if he finishes the season in the top 25.

''A lot of people kept pushing me when I wanted to step away from it,'' Arnaud said. ''My wife was one of those that told me to take the chance and go. Low and behold it really paid off.''

SHINNECOCK SAVANT: Rory McIlroy is excited to get back to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open, a course he already has played a few times.

Equally excited is his manager, Sean O'Flaherty, who knows the course on New York's Long Island better than McIlroy.

O'Flaherty spent two summers as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills.

He went to college at Trinity in Dublin, had friends in the Hamptons and came over during the summer months in 2002 and 2003 to work as a caddie.

''I got to know a lot of members,'' O'Flaherty said. ''I can't wait. To me, it's the best course in the world.''

DIVOTS: Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Feb. 25 at No. 4 in the world. No one from the top 10 in the world has won a PGA Tour event since then, a stretch of 12 tournaments. ... Guy Kinnings is leaving IMG after nearly 30 years to become the deputy CEO and Ryder Cup director of the European Tour. He will report directly to European Tour chief Keith Pelley. ... The LPGA tour will play in China during its fall Asia swing at the Buick LPGA Shanghai at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The tournament will be Oct. 18-21, one week before the men play the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai. ... Alice Chen of Furman has been selected for the Dinah Shore Trophy, awarded to top college women who excel in golf, academics and work off the golf course. ... The Irish Open is going to Lahinch Golf Club in 2019, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley serving as the tournament host.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Matt Kuchar, Peter Uihlein and Jhonattan Vegas are the only players to compete in all five Texas events on the PGA Tour this year.

FINAL WORD: ''The sum of his shots seems to add up to slightly less than the sum of the shots from another guy.'' - Geoff Ogilvy on Jordan Spieth.

Getty Images

Arizona's run continues, knocks off top seed to reach semis

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 6:35 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – The No. 1 seed in match play has still never won the women’s NCAA Championship.

That dubious distinction continued Tuesday at Karsten Creek when Arizona knocked out top-seeded UCLA on the final hole of the final match.

With the matches tied at 2 apiece, the anchor match between Arizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan and UCLA freshman Patty Tavatanakit was tied on the 18th hole, a par 5 that’s reachable in two shots by many.

Tavatanakit was just short of the green in two and Pagdanganan, the Wildcats’ hero from Monday when she made eagle on the last hole to give her team a shot at match play, blasted her second shot onto the green. Tavatanakit failed to get up and down – missing a 4-footer for birdie – and Pagdanganan two-putted for birdie to give Arizona the victory.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

“We’re lucky to be in match play,” Arizona coach Laura Ianello said. “Let’s ride the highs. Why not?”

Arizona will now face Stanford in the semifinals. The Cardinal, the 2015 champion and 2016 runner up, has qualified for match play in each of the past four seasons. They beat Northwestern, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to advance.

USC will face Alabama in the other semifinal, meaning three Pac-12 teams have advanced to the Final Four. The Crimson Tide had an easy go of it in their quarterfinal match against Kent State, winning 4-1. The decisive victory gave Alabama extra rest for its afternoon match.

USC beat Duke, 3-1-1, in the other quarterfinal, pitting teams that have combined to win nine NCAA titles in the past 20 years. But neither team has had much success in the past four years since the championship turned to match play. Not only has neither team won, neither has even reached the championship match.

Duke’s Leona Maguire won the first match and the second match was halved, but USC swept the last three matches with Gabriela Ruffels, Alyaa Abdulghany and Amelia Garvey all winning to propel the Trojans into the semifinals.

Alabama (2) vs. USC (3)

2:30PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (A) vs. Jennifer Chang (USC)

2:40PM ET: Kristen Gillman (A) vs. Amelia Garvey (USC)

2:50PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (A) vs. Allisen Corpuz (USC)

3:00PM ET: Lakareber Abe (A) vs. Alyaa Abdulghany (USC)

3:10PM ET: Angelica Moresco (A) Gabriela Ruffels (USC)

Stanford (5) vs. Arizona (8)

3:20PM ET: Emily Wang (S) vs. Gigi Stoll (A)

3:30PM ET: Shannon Aubert (S) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (A)

3:40PM ET: Mika Liu (S) vs. Haley Moore (A)

3:50PM ET: Albane Valenzuela (S) vs. Sandra Nordaas (A)

4:00PM ET: Andrea Lee (S) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (A)

Getty Images

NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 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 were contested Tuesday morning with semifinals in the afternoon. The finals are being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

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

4-8PM: Match-play finals