Par 5 Questions Surrounding No 1
What kind of respect will new No. 1 Donald command at the Memorial?
More respect than any American player is getting these days.
That’s what the oddsmakers tell us about Luke Donald.
Whether you approve of gambling or not, one of the best ways to view the public’s confidence in a player is through the odds established by golf’s major betting houses. The whole “science” of oddsmaking is based on gauging the public’s perception of who ought to be favored to win. Really, it’s the betting public that sets odds.
Ladbrokes makes Donald the favorite at the Memorial this week at 10-to-1 with Phil Mickelson getting the next best odds at 14-to-1.
Though Donald’s never won a major, he’s also now the co-favorite with Mickelson to win the U.S. Open with the odds on each of them at 12-to-1, according to Ladbrokes.
So how long will Donald’s run at No. 1 last?
We’re in a different territory in the world rankings.
Donald is the fourth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the last 32 weeks.
It's been 14 years since so many different players have held the top ranking in such a short span.
Before Tiger Woods was overtaken in the world rankings last fall, you would have to go back more than 4,200 weeks to find four different players holding the top spot. Ernie Els, David Duval, Vijay Singh and Woods were the only players to hold the top ranking between June 13, 1998, and Oct. 30, 2010.
Back in the late spring/early summer of 1997, Greg Norman, Tom Lehman, Els and Woods took turns holding the top spot over a 10-week period.
Donald’s run at No. 1 shouldn’t be the shortest in OWGR history. Lehman held the top spot a single week in the spring of 1997. With No. 2 Lee Westwood and No. 3 Martin Kaymer taking this week off, Donald’s run should last at least two weeks.
After that? With three major championships and a World Golf Championship in the next 11 weeks, there’s a load of world ranking points up for grabs this summer. If somebody gets hot, a player could build a nice lead at No. 1. If parity continues as golf’s theme, we could see a lot more volatility at the top.
Will there be tea and crumpets in the players’ lounge at the Memorial?
There’s a decidedly English theme at Muirfield Village this week.
England’s Justin Rose is back as the defending champ with England’s Donald making his debut as the world’s new No. 1.
Donald’s obviously on a roll. He’s won twice and finished second twice in his last nine world starts with his worst finish at tie for 10th. Since missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open, here’s how Donald's results line reads: W, T-10, T-6, T-4, 2nd, T-8, T-4, 2nd, W.
Rose won the Memorial and the AT&T National within a month’s span last year. He’s made all but one cut in 12 starts this year with strong finishes at the Northern Trust Open (T-9), Transitions Championship (T-5) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (T-3).
Who’s best suited to make the U.S. relevant again on golf’s world stage?
The BMW PGA Championship didn’t need the Americans last weekend.
Though there were questions whether U.S. players should make the trip to the European Tour’s flagship event, the truth is that once the first tee shot was struck, nobody on the other side of the pond cared that there were no Americans there. The storylines were strong and plentiful with Donald outdueling Westwood to win the title and the No. 1 ranking, with 18-year-old Matteo Manassero in the mix for his third title and with Ian Poulter and Els feuding over course design.
The Americans are being overshadowed in a large way in the world’s biggest events, from the last four majors to the Ryder Cup and the world ranking battle for No. 1. If not for all the focus on Woods, they’d be nearly irrelevant.
With Woods hurt and slumping, Phil Mickelson’s the Great American Hope, the United States’ biggest name with the biggest persona and the most cachet.
Though he’s failed with so many chances to become No. 1, Mickelson’s best suited this week to carry the American banner back onto the game’s grandest stages.
Is this the week Rory McIlroy gets his mojo back?
McIlroy conceded at the BMW Championship last week that he’s still making his way back from the dizzying blow of his Masters’ loss.
“I think I need to get myself into that position again to know how I've got over it and if I'll handle it better,” McIlroy said. “I think I've put a few things in place that will make me handle being in that position better again. But you never really know until you're tested in that environment.”
Since the Masters, McIlroy’s spent time with putting wizard Dave Stockton and sports psychologist Bob Rotella.
After squandering the 54-hole lead at the Masters, McIlroy made a quick rebound at the Maybank Malaysian the next week, immediately getting into contention before losing late in the final round to Manassero with a clumsy finish.
The double dose of disappointment seemed to catch up to him with the down time that followed.
McIlroy missed the cut in defense of his title at the Wells Fargo Championship, his first return to the United States since the Masters. He was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Volvo World Match Play and never got in contention at the BMW PGA after opening with a 76. He seemed to find some rhythm playing the weekend at Wentworth and will be looking to build upon it at the Memorial.
Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama
STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.
Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.
Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.
Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.
Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.
Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.
“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.
Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”
NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times
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 and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.
- Finals: Alabama vs. Arizona
- Semifinals: Alabama def. USC, 3.5-1.5
- Semifinals: Arizona def. Stanford, 4-1
- Quarterfinals: Alabama def. Kent State, 4-1
- Quartefinals: USC def. Duke, 3.5-1.5
- Quarterfinals: Arizona def. UCLA, 3-2
- Quarterfinals: Stanford def. Northwestern, 3-2
- Individual stroke play
TV Times (all times ET):
4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)
Fort Worth Invitational: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
The PGA Tour makes the short drive from Dallas to Fort Worth and Colonial Country Club. Here are the key stats and information for this week. Click here for full-field tee times.
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Purse: $7.1 million
Course: Colonial Country Club (par 70, 7,209 yards)
Defending champion: Kevin Kisner. Last year he defeated Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair and Jon Rahm by one stroke
Notables in the field
• Finished T-2, 1st and T-2 in last three starts in this tournament
• 52 under par at Colonial last five years (best of anyone by 27 strokes in that span)
• 100 birdies/eagles made here last five years (most of anyone in that span)
• First start since missed cut at The Players
• More missed cuts (3) than top-10 finishes (2) in 2018
• Finished T-2 in this tournament last year (66 in final round)
• 17 top-5 finishes in 46 official worldwide individual starts as professional
• First start since Players victory (fifth PGA Tour win)
• Fifth on Tour in strokes gained: putting this season (177th two seasons ago)
Maguire's storied Duke career comes to an end
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.”