Quick Round With
Stewart Cinks victory at the British Open gives Pickens back-to-back assists in the major championship season. He also works with Lucas Glover, winner of the U.S. Open. Overall, thats three major championship teams Pickens has been part of since leaving the nest as a student under Bob Rotella and jumping into the mind coaching business. He also works with Zach Johnson, winner of the Masters in 2007.
A graduate of Clemson University, Pickens is based at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia, where his clients include Charles Warren, the original link who led to connections with Glover, Johnson and Cink.
Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Pickens this week for a quick round:
As a shrink, youre actually getting large now, arent you? Has your phone stopped ringing since Stewart Cinks victory?
After something like this, you become smarter overnight.
Your major championship winners have something in common. They both denied sentimental favorites. Glover denied Phil Mickelson and David Duval. Cink denied Tom Watson. Your boys both won when it seemed like everyone wanted somebody else to win. Have you had to talk to them about that?
They both understand the feelings. Would Stewart have been pulling for Tom Watson to win if he were watching the playoff? Probably so. Would Lucas have been pulling for Phil Mickelson or David Duval if he were watching them in that situation? Probably. But it didnt matter who Stewart and Lucas were with out there. They were playing the golf course. Stewart was playing Turnberry, Lucas was playing Bethpage.
Thats something we talk about and work on. Thats what Stewart and I talked about all week at Turnberry. Keep playing Turnberry, keep playing Turnberry, keep playing Turnberry. With Lucas and Stewart, we werent talking about winning the U.S. Open or winning the British Open. We talked about playing Bethpage and playing Turnberry.
Stewart knew who the other guy was in the playoff, but when Watson finished, Stewart wasnt thinking, `I have to play Tom Watson. He was thinking, `I have to play No. 5, the first playoff hole. He wasnt thinking, `Ive got to win the British Open. He was thinking, `Ive got to play No. 5.
You started working with Stewart at The Players Championship. What was he looking for from you?
He wanted help with his putting. He wanted to return to his putting form in 04, when he putted really well. He had gotten away from what he was doing. He wasnt thinking good on the greens. His routines werent consistent. He didnt practice it much, and so he basically wanted to overhaul his putting. He even changed from the long putter he was using to a short putter, but that was his decision. He didnt ask me what I thought of the switch. He said, `Im going with the short putter and I want you to help me with the thought process.
Developing a consistent routine was part of that. When you watched him at the British Open, what were you looking for?
I was looking to see, physically, if he were doing the things we worked on. How many steps? How many practice strokes? How long is he holding his look? You can get a sense if hes having other thoughts in his head. Those were the things I was looking for. Watching on TV, I didnt get to see all his shots, but what I saw from 17 and 18 and through the last four holes of the playoff, he didnt miss one step, one look in his routine, they were all right on cue. He didnt speed up or slow down or make it too important.
I was also watching to see if was getting too emotional.
A lot of people, every putt is for a result. The closer you get to the hole, the more you get score conscious. This putt is for a birdie, or to get up and down, or to get the lead. We try to take the putting for something out of it. Whether its a five footer for eagle or a five footer for double bogey, its still the same putt. That way you can make them all the same. It becomes a physical putt, not an emotional putt. The more you can make putting a physical act rather than an emotional act, the more you can make them all the same.
I also watched to see how he was talking about putts to himself. Its something we work on, and I could tell he was into describing the putt to himself. There were a couple times where I could literally see him mouthing to himself what the putt was going to do. Its a big thing.
Why is that a big thing?
Most people putt emotionally, and I dont think thats a good thing. When you listen to Tiger Woods talk about his putting, when he talked about the putts he made when he won the U.S. Open last year, he talked about how he knew what the putts were going to do. The putt he made to get into the playoff, he knew what that putt was for, but he was totally into how the putt was two balls out.
Stewart was part of that debacle at the 72nd hole at the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, when he missed a short putt and missed out on a playoff. He came back from that admirably. You ever talk about that failure.
No, hes never brought it up. It was a cruel lesson about not playing someone and not playing for something, but how you just keep playing the course. In 01, he quit playing the course and started playing the outcome. At the British Open, even at the end of the playoff, when he was way up, he kept playing the course.
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Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title
STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.
Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?
The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.
“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.
Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.
“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”
Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.
Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.
“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”
After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.
And the Wildcats better rest up.
Alabama looks unstoppable.
“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”
Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.
After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.
They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.
Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.
“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”
They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.
“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”
That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.
The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.
“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.
It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”
Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.
They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.
Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.
“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”
Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.
Pairings, tee times set for championship match
STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.
Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.
“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”
Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.
Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.
Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.
“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.
Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)
3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)
3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)
3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)
3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)
4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)
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)