Bunker Shots Majors and More

By Randall MellJuly 27, 2010, 6:08 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from a new PGA Tour venue to a pair of majors and a proud Irish test ... 


PGA Tour (75x100)

Greenbrier Classic

It’s hard to believe, but we’re creeping up on the end of this most unusual and amorphous PGA Tour FedEx Cup season.

It’s almost over, and we’re still trying to get a handle on what this year’s all about beyond Tiger Woods’ swoon.

Catch your breath this week – most of the PGA Tour stars are – because six of the next seven weeks are elite events that will feature loaded fields.

With the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship following the Greenbrier Classic, there’s just the Wyndham Championship to go before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It’s why Jim Furyk’s the only top-20 player in the field at the Greenbrier Classic. There’s a lot of resting going on.

Bunker shot: Break out the pannkakor and lingonberry jelly, the Swedes are coming. Carl Pettersson and Richard Johnson are coming off victories last week, Pettersson at the RBC Canadian Open and Johnson at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters. They’re both in this week’s field with the glow of their victories still lighting up Sweden.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ricky Barnes. Contender – Jim Furyk. Darkhorse – Charley Wi.

  • Course: Greenbrier’s Old White Course, White Sulphur Springs, WV. Par 70, 7,020 (Originally designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor and opened in 1913, restored by Lester George in 2006).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,090,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET), replay 8:30-11:30 p.m. on Friday, (ET); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. (ET), CBS, 3-6 p.m., (ET), Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m (ET).
  • Last year: This year is the inaugural event.


LPGA Tour _new

Ricoh Women’s British Open

Royal Birkdale is home to the final major championship of the women’s season. Americans are on a major championship roll, having won back-to-back majors in the same season for the first time in 11 years. Can they make it three in a row? That also last happened in 1999, when Dottie Pepper won the Kraft Nabisco and Juli Inkster won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open.

Bunker shot: Four different players have held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings already this year. Anybody game to make it five? Suzann Pettersen looks like she is despite an ailing hip. Pettersen’s No. 4 in the world but can catapult to No. 1 with a victory this week. She’s done everything but win this year. She has four runner-up finishes and eight top-10 finishes in her 11 starts. She knocked hard at the door again last week, closing with a bogey-free 66 at the Evian Masters to finish fifth, two shots behind the champ, Jiyai Shin. Pettersen, despite worsening tendinitis in a hip, looks determined to break through before fixing this hip.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Jiyai Shin. Darkhorse – Karen Stupples.

  • Course: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England. Par 72, 6,465 yards (Designed by three generations of the Hawtree Family, opened at current site in 1894).
  • Purse: $2.5 million (winner’s share, TBA).
  • TV times: ESPN, Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m. to noon (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Catriona Matthew won at 3-under 285, finishing three shots ahead of runner-up Karrie Webb at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.


Champions Tour

U.S. Senior Open

The third leg of the five-legged Champions Tour major championship schedule lands at Sahalee Country Club outside Seattle this week.

Tom Lehman won the first major of the year, the Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club, Bernhard Langer the second, last weekend’s Senior British Open at Carnoustie.

Bunker shot: Langer wrestled away the Charles Schwab Cup points lead from Fred Couples with his victory at Carnoustie on Sunday. Couples had a vice grip on the top spot for five months, and he just might be inspired to take it back this week. Couples is from Seattle. Though he hasn’t lived there since leaving for the University of Houston 33 years ago, he still takes pride in calling it home. There should be lots of magic and motivation working for Couples this week.     

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Mark Calcavecchia. Darkhorse – Peter Jacobsen.

  • Course: Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash. Par 70, 6,866 yards (Designed by Ted Robinson and opened in 1969, renovated by Rees Jones in 1996).
  • Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $470,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN2, 5-9 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 4-7 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Fred Funk closed with a 7-under-par 65 to run away in a six-shot romp at Crooked Stick. His 20-under 268 total was a championship record for 72 holes.


2009 European Tour

3 Irish Open

Shane Lowry scripted a wildly popular finish to this championship in Ireland a year ago, with the Irish lad becoming just the third amateur to win a European Tour event.

Lowry’s back as a professional to defend his title, and he’s faring respectably this season, ranking 46th in the Race to Dubai standings with a pair of top-10 European Tour finishes.

Bunker shot: It’s a special time in Irish golf with the European Tour’s website touting this week as a welcome home to a “golden generation.” Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell have made that part of the world proud. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy gives this championship a trio of world-ranked stars to follow in Killarney.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Padraig Harrington. Contender – Rory McIlroy. Darkhorse – Darren Clarke.

  • Course: Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.
  • Purse: 3 million euros (winner’s share, 500,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Amateur Shane Lowry defeated Robert Rock on the third playoff hole.


Nationwide Tour

Cox Classic

Jamie Lovemark bumped Tommy Gainey from the top of the money list last week, making Lovemark the fifth different player to hold the top spot this season.

Bunker shot: D.J. Brigman rocketed from No. 47 to No. 6 on the Nationwide Tour money list with his victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational last weekend. That’s the delightfully volatile nature of this tour. Who’s going to blast off this week? A season can go from sour to sweet in a heartbeat on this circuit with the top-25 money winners at season’s end winning promotions to the PGA Tour next year.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tag Ridings. Contender – Jamie Lovemark. Darkhorse – J.J. Killeen.

  • Course: Champions Run, Omaha, Neb. Par 71, 7,145 yards (Designed by Jeff Brauer and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $725,000 (winner’s share, $130,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (ET); Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ET); Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Rich Barcelo’s final-round 6-under-par 65 gave him a one-shot margin of victory over runner-up Tom Gillis.
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.

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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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