Bunker Shots International Flair

By Randall MellJuly 20, 2010, 6:01 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from another major event in Scotland to French, Canadian and Scandinavian tests.

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

RBC Canadian Open

You can’t always judge the appeal of a PGA Tour field by the world rankings.

That’s the case at the RBC Canadian Open, where the most popular players in the field aren’t among the top 80 in the world. Fred Couples, John Daly and David Duval remain strong draws folks want to see. Canadian Mike Weir is No. 82 in the world, but he will be the biggest draw of all as he bids once more to win his national open. Paul Casey and Luke Donald are the highest ranked players competing at Nos. 8 and 9 in the world, respectively. Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Sean O’Hair, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar also spice the field with veterans Paul Azinger and Rocco Mediate in the mix.

Bunker shot: How is it that Weir makes his 20th start in the Canadian Open this week? And that he’s 40 now? The still youthful looking Canadian can script a wildly popular story if he manages to break through and win this event for the first time. Though he missed the cut the first nine times he played the Canadian Open, Weir has managed three top-10s in his last seven tries. With the Canadian Open being played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club outside Toronto for the first time since 1968, there’s some odd mojo in Weir’s favor. Bob Charles won that year. Like Weir, Charles plays left-handed. Weir’s got some momentum to change, though. He’s missed cuts in four of his last six starts and has just one top-10 finish this season. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Retief Goosen. Darkhorse – Stephen Ames.

  • Course: St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, Canada. Par 70, 7,046 yards (Designed by Stanley Thompson and opened in 1929).
  • Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replays 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Nathan Green defeated Retief Goosen on the second hole of a playoff.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

Senior Open Championhsip

It’s the first of back-to-back Champions Tour majors.

After a week at Carnoustie, the senior circuit will head back to the states for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee outside Seattle. For a select group at St. Andrews, it’s the second of three consecutive majors.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman looked more than ready to claim a senior major with their “warm-ups” at St. Andrews last week. The challenge is less daunting this week with the dominant Fred Couples skipping the trip overseas to play the RBC Canadian Open. Still, Tom Watson, winner of five British Open titles and three senior British Open titles, is expected to bounce back strong after missing the cut at St. Andrews last week. Seven of his eight previously mentioned major championship titles were claimed in Scotland. He won at Carnoustie in ’75.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Tom Lehman. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. Par 71, 6,785 yards (Designed by Alan Robertson 1850, Old Tom Morris 1867).
  • Purse: $2 million (winner’s share, $315,600).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, TNT, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, 1:30-3 p.m., ABC; Sunday, ABC, 1-3 p.m.
  • Last year: Loren Roberts defeated Mark McNulty and Fred Funk in a playoff.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

Evian Masters

Paula Creamer’s back in action after her inspiring U.S. Women’s Open victory two weeks ago.

Creamer, who never looked better winning her first major at brutish Oakmont despite her still sore reconstructed left thumb, is part of a strong field playing for a giant purse in France. The nature of the event makes it feel like the women’s fifth major with players getting ready for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The top 24 players in the world are all committed to the Evian Masters and competing for $3.25 million, which equals the U.S. Women’s Open as the largest purse in women’s golf. The 111-player field isn’t as large as the LPGA’s full-field events but it’s an expanded field with 20 players more than a year ago.

Bunker shot: The fight for No. 1 continues to be the story within the story again this week with Creamer looking to move up from her No. 7 ranking with another victory. Ai Miyazato, Evian’s defending champ, regained the No. 1 ranking from Cristie Kerr by ten thousandths of a decimal point in this week’s new rankings. Though neither player teed it up last week, Miyazato’s average jumped over Kerr’s based on points they lost within the two-year rolling window of the rankings. Watch out for Suzann Pettersen if she gets her putter working before next week’s Women’s British Open. She’s No. 3 in the world with a chance to become the fifth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking this year. Pettersen’s ball striking was phenomenal at the U.S. Women’s Open, but she left saying she could have putted better blindfolded.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Paula Creamer. Contender – Ai Miyazato. Darkhorse – Helen Alfredsson.

  • Course: Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France. Par 72, 6,344 yards (Originally opened in 1904, renovated by Cabell B. Robinson in 1990).
  • Purse: $3.25 million (winner’s share, $487,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m. following Thursday’s round; Saturday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Ai Miyazato broke through to win her first LPGA event, defeating Sophie Gustafson in a playoff.

EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European Tour

Nordea Scandinavian Masters

Jesper Parnevik, one of Sweden’s favorite sons, hopes to return to action in his homeland this week.

Parnevik dropped out of the Northern Trust Open in February with severe back pain. That was his last PGA Tour start and he’s said he’s still uncertain how the back will hold up in his return. He had hip surgery in the middle of last season. He won the Scandinavian Masters in 1995 and ’98.

Bunker shot: A year ago, Louis Oosthuizen could probably have sneaked in and out of the Scandinavian Masters unnoticed. He’ll get a good feeling just how much his life’s changed this week. He’s suddenly a headliner thanks to his virtuoso performance winning the British Open Sunday by a whopping seven shots. He headlines a nice crop of up-and-coming stars in the Swedish event. Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler also are in this week’s field, as are Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, winner of the European Tour event the week before the British Open, and Spain’s Pablo Martin, who three years ago became the first amateur to win a European Tour event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Dustin Johnson. Contender – Edoardo Molinari. Darkhorse – Peter Hedblom.

  • Course: Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, Stockholm, Sweden. Par 72, 7,365 yards (Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: 1.6 million euros (winner’s share, 333,330 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Last year: Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalo won by two shots.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational

Thirteen events remain before the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship.

The top 60 on the money list earn their way in, where the top 25 at event’s end win PGA Tour cards.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey  became the first two-time winner of the Nationwide Tour this season with his victory last week at the Chiquita Classic. He’s bidding this week to win a third time and become the 10th player in Tour history to earn a same-season promotion to the PGA Tour. Michael Sim did it last year in the middle of August.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappell. Contender – Gavin Coles. Darkhorse – Joe Affrunti.

  • Course: Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio. Par 71, 7,455 yards (Designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1938, Jack Nicklaus oversaw a restoration in 2005).
  • Purse: $800,000 (winner’s share, $144,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Saturday, Golf Channel, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last year: Derek Lamely’s 6-under-par 65 helped him come from eight shots back in the final round and win. He defeated amateur Rickie Fowler in a playoff.
Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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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