Fading Stars

By Randall MellOctober 3, 2010, 11:30 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – It's too late to bench them now.

American captain Corey Pavin had no choice going into Monday’s singles at the Ryder Cup.

He had to put Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the lineup.

The only question to ponder: Where should he hide them?

Yeah, that’s ridiculously over the top, but a European reporter actually asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson moments before the singles lineup was released. It’s no stretch to imagine European golf fans having some fun over a lager or two tonight at the expense of the United States’ best players.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is 2-1 this week, but thanks to a lot of help from Steve Stricker. (Getty Images)
Actually, Woods and Mickelson are the planet’s best players at Nos. 1 and 2 in the world rankings, but those are lame-duck designations now.

That’s not over the top. That’s almost a certainty.

Mickelson will lose his No. 2 spot in Monday’s newest world rankings. Lee Westwood is guaranteed to move up with Mickelson falling to No. 3. Woods won’t be far behind. European Tour officials project that Westwood need only finish top-20 in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links and again at the following week’s Portugal Masters to take the No. 1 ranking.

The lousy Ryder Cup Sunday Woods and Mickelson endured was confirmation of what all the signs have pointed to this summer. Woods and Mickelson are fading together. That’s not to say they won’t fight their way back into winning form. That’s not to say they won’t win more majors and big events, but there’s enough wrong with their games, their bodies or their spirits to wonder if they’ll ever be at the top of the world rankings together again.

Woods, 34, is putting his life back together, searching for old confidence and overhauling his swing for the third time in his career. Mickelson is still dealing with his wife’s health issues and his own recent diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. He turned 40 this year.

Of course, this Ryder Cup isn’t over.

Woods and Mickelson have to be highly motivated to make statements Monday. That’s part of the fun in the challenge the Americans face in trying to come back from a formidable 9½-6 ½ deficit.

Notably, as much as the Americans need to mount an early charge to build momentum, Woods and Mickelson were not front loaded in the lineup to get the team off to a fast start. Woods will go off in the eighth slot against Francesco Molinari, Mickelson in the 10th slot against Peter Hanson.

What final statement will Woods and Mickelson make? Will they be instrumental in another remarkable American rally like they were in 1999 at Brookline when they both won their singles matches in helping the United States mount the largest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history? Or will they be instrumental in an American swoon as they were Sunday at Celtic Manor?

Woods got throttled in his foursomes match Sunday.

He endured the worst pummeling of his Ryder Cup career in the 6-and-5 rout that Westwood and Luke Donald put on Steve Stricker and him.

It was the worst thrashing any American Ryder Cup duo has experienced in 15 years. Yeah, Woods won two matches with Stricker, but if you watched, you saw how Woods struggled. When the duo birdied four of the final seven holes to win their opening fourballs match, Stricker made every birdie.

Mickelson’s misery Sunday was extended late into his fourballs match with Rickie Fowler, but he left the grounds more bruised than Woods. His defeat was one for the record books. He has now lost more Ryder Cup matches than any American who’s ever played in them. He’s 10-17-2 in Ryder Cups, but here’s the staggering stat. He’s won just two of his last 17 Ryder Cup matches.

Both Woods and Mickelson sound like they’ll come out scrapping Monday.

“I think tomorrow’s singles are going to come down to one of the last few matches,” Mickelson said. “I think we are going to make up some ground early. We are going to try to close the gap and see if we can make a run at this.”

Woods harkened back to Brookline’s comeback.

“We have done it before, so there’s no reason we can’t do it again,” he said.

When that reporter asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson in the singles lineup, Pavin couldn’t have liked it.

“There is nobody to hide,” Pavin said. “But thank you for asking. I appreciate it.”

Pavin did defend Mickelson’s record.

“He's played in the most Ryder Cups in history for us,” Pavin said. “This is his eighth. So he's played a lot of matches.

“I think he's playing hard, he's playing the best he can and he's been in good positions. You know, he's had a few 6-footers that were very key putts, and if he makes those, it's a different result. That's the way match play is, just a little of this or that. I've seen Phil make some pretty important putts in his career. He's won 38 times and four major championships. He's a pretty good player.”

Actually, Mickelson hasn’t played in more Ryder Cup matches than any American, but he’s getting there. Monday will be his 30th Ryder Cup match. Billy Casper played in 37.

Pavin didn’t have to defend Woods. He made him one of his four captain’s picks.

Woods and Mickelson still have chances to change their own momentum and help the Americans win. That’s something they haven’t been very good at either. The Ryder Cup teams they’ve played on together are 1-4.


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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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