Whan: Henderson's future 'in her hands'

By Randall MellJune 23, 2015, 7:49 pm

Brooke Henderson’s quest to play the LPGA full time is right where it ought to be.

It’s in her hands.

That’s LPGA commissioner Mike Whan’s position with a growing legion of her followers believing the 17-year-old Canadian’s victory Sunday on the Symetra Tour is yet more proof she’s ready to play the best tour in the women’s game.

“The bottom line – as I’ve said to Brooke and I’ve said to her father – more than most players I’ve known, she has her future in her hands,” Whan told GolfChannel.com. “She really does. She can play her way on to the LPGA. She can play her way through Q-School. It’s in her hands.”

With Sunday’s victory, Whan granted Henderson a waiver that allowed her to claim Symetra Tour membership. With that, Whan gives Henderson yet more options to play her way to the LPGA.

Yes, Whan hears Henderson’s supporters pressuring him to rewrite his association’s rules and grant her LPGA membership, but the commissioner believes she is traveling a route that is ultimately best for her and his tour.

Whan’s denial last fall of Henderson’s petition for a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members be at least 18 years old kept her out of Q-School, leading her to turn pro anyway and try to play her way into the LPGA this year through sponsor exemptions and Monday qualifiers. While Whan says he is impressed at how Henderson is performing, he is holding firm to a line he drew for teen phenoms Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson.

“I reviewed Brooke’s resume in the fall of 2014, and from my personal perspective at the time, it wasn’t up to par with the others I have approved,” Whan said. “Of the two petitions I’ve said yes to, I’ve probably said 60 no’s. I feel it’s kind of like a legal case. I’m going to set precedent. It’s not just her. I’m going to set a line and most people are going to look and compare themselves to that line. That line now is Lydia and Lexi.”

Ko and Thompson are the only players Whan waived the age rule for since he became LPGA commissioner five years ago, allowing them to play the tour as members before they were 18. They both won LPGA events before he granted them waivers. For Whan, a victory is required before he will even consider saying yes to a waiver.

Whan read Henderson’s father’s comments at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where Dave Henderson urged media to pressure Whan to find a way to grant his daughter tour membership. She tied for fifth at the Women’s PGA, finished third at the Swinging Skirts Classic and tied for 10th at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open.

“Brooke can play,” Dave said. “She can go. That’s what we tell Mike Whan every day. Give us a chance and let us in . . . What more do you want? She is good for golf. She is good for revenues. She brings young people into the game.”

Whan also acknowledges the social media campaign in support of Henderson. He appreciates the excitement she’s generating, but . . .

“When people make the comments they make on social media, they’re talking about a resume they’ve seen the last four or five months,” Whan said. “To her credit, she’s building a resume that’s nowhere near where it was when she petitioned me last fall.”

The truth is, Henderson’s future really is more in her hands than the commissioner’s.

Even if Whan granted Henderson a waiver of the tour’s age restriction today, it wouldn’t come with LPGA membership privileges. The LPGA doesn’t have the special temporary membership rule that the PGA Tour has. Even with an age waiver, Henderson still has to qualify under one of 20 LPGA priority list categories that grant a player access to the tour. Ko and Thompson used their waivers to claim membership via category 7 (non-member win). Henderson doesn’t yet qualify for tour access via any category. She would need the LPGA to change its rules to somehow grant her instant membership.

Henderson gave herself two more routes for getting to the LPGA with Sunday’s Symetra Tour victory. Here are the routes to the LPGA available to her:

• If Henderson wins an LPGA event, she can claim tour membership for this year and through next year, provided she is granted a waiver of the tour’s age restriction. If she wins, the waiver is a virtual certainty, based on Whan’s record and the fact that he just waived the Symetra Tour age restriction for her. Henderson turns 18 on Sept. 10.

• If Henderson accumulates winnings in LPGA events with a cut that are equal to or better than the player who finishes 40th on the final LPGA official money list this year, she will earn membership for 2016 via category 10 of the LPGA priority list. Henderson has earned $317,470 in seven LPGA starts so far this year. If she were a tour member, she would rank 20th on the LPGA money list this week. A year ago, Hee Young Park finished 40th on the money list with $447,658 in earnings.

• If Henderson wins three Symetra Tour events this year, she will earn an immediate promotion to the LPGA. Her victory Sunday at the Four Winds Invitational counts toward that, meaning she needs two more victories to earn the promotion. While this would give her access to LPGA events via category 13 of the priority list, she wouldn’t play as a tour member. She would accumulate winnings as a non-member. There are 12 Symetra Tour events remaining this season.

• If Henderson is among the top 10 on the final Symetra Tour official money list this year, she would earn LPGA membership for 2016 via category 9 of the priority list. Though Henderson’s victory Sunday counts toward a three-victory promotion to the LPGA, her winnings do not count as official money. She starts Symetra Tour membership this week with zero dollars in official earnings.

• If Henderson doesn’t make it via any of the routes above, she can still try to play her way to the LPGA through Q-School this fall.

Henderson is scheduled to play the next three weeks. She will tee it up at the Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship in Harris, Mich., this week and at the Symetra Tour’s Tullymore Classic in Stanwood, Mich., next week. She plans to play the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club the week after that.

Henderson’s seven LPGA starts this year have come via five sponsor exemptions and through two Monday qualifiers. By LPGA rules, she is limited to six sponsor exemptions a year. She has one left and plans to use that at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August. She is qualified to play the U.S. Women’s Open based on her top-10 finish in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst. She also appears likely to get a special invitation to the Ricoh Women’s British Open that won’t count against her six sponsor exemptions.

As of now, Henderson can’t get into any other LPGA events, except through Monday qualifiers. However, she could qualify for the Evian Championship in September if she is among the top 40 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings as of Aug. 4. She’s currently No. 49 in the world.

There’s a lot of work left for Henderson to do to make it to the LPGA, but her future looks in capable hands.

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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.”

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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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