Backseat Driver

By Rex HoggardJuly 31, 2009, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods makes the cut, noteworthy only because hes never missed consecutive weekends on Tour as a professional, and yet Buick officials, who have benefited the most from his celebrity, will be slamming trunks, perhaps for forever.
 
During the dog days of summer the line between those making the cut and those heading home early is tough to distinguish.
 
Made Cut
 
  • Phil Mickelson: Golf is never better than when Mickelson is playing well and there couldnt be a more encouraging sign coming from Camp Lefty than his commitment to next weeks WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and probably next months PGA Championship.
     
    Mickelson wouldnt be playing unless his wifes treatment for breast cancer is going well and, as he proved earlier this year at Bethpage, he shouldnt be dismissed as a favorite at Hazeltine National.
     
    Besides, theres only a single member of Butch Harmons stable that currently holds a major, Stewart Cink, and to a competitor like Mickelson that just wont do.
     
  • Erik Compton: What could have been the years most inspiring story ' after, of course, that 59-year-old crashing the kids party at Turnberry ' was put on the DL when the double heart transplant patient broke his right hand in June.
     
    We hear the cast is off and Compton recently told a friend he has his V back (broad shoulders, narrow waist) after spending his down time in the gym. Expect to see Compton version 4.0 in the Fall Series which is good news for all those who like good comeback stories.
     

     
    Made Cut ' Did not finish (MDF)
     
  • Golf in the Olympics: Still not sure if golf in the Olympics is in the games best interest, but thats a Cut Line for another day. With the support of the games biggest hitters (Tiger Woods, Augusta National, PGA Tour, et al), golfs gold medal future is now in the hands of others.
     
    The 15-member executive board of the International Olympic Committee will recommend the two sports that will be added for the 2016 Games on Aug. 13 and a full IOC vote later this year will make it official.
     
    Among the games competing against golf for inclusion are karate, squash, roller sports and rugby sevens which begs the question, do they really need to vote?
     
  • Buick: Or maybe we should call out the car czars. Either way, the embattled auto manufacturer is one step closer to being out of the golf business after this weeks Buick Open at Warwick Hills, a run that spans a half century.
     
    Maybe even more concerning is the fate of San Diegos Buick Invitational, which has become something of the unofficial start to the Tour season in recent years and as close to a lock in the Woods sweepstakes as one gets, non-major championship division.
     
    When a pair of scenic layouts and the games alpha male arent enough to keep a sponsor happy, perhaps it is time for the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to panic.
     

     
    Missed Cut
     
  • Greg Norman: While our initial guess is that the Great White Sharks comments regarding his ex-wife last week were the result of journalistic nudging more so than some sort of deep-seeded desire to throw stones, the episode still reeks of revisionist history.
     
    A reporter recently asked Norman if he had new wife Chris Evert in his life 20 years ago would all those majors have gotten away from him?
     
    Chrissie would have instilled a different thought process and I would have said the answer would probably be yes, Norman said.
     
    Last we checked, ex-Laura never chipped in on the Aussie or hit any of those 78 final-round pops at the 1996 Masters. It was good to see a rejuvenated Norman last year at Royal Birkdale, but blaming the ex for all ones missteps is bad form, and a bit of a clich.
     
  • Major Scheduling: If its Thursday on the Champions Tour that must mean theyre playing a major championship. Or so it seems.
     
    The five major concept is hard enough to wrap ones arms around, but playing three consecutive in the middle of the summer just devalues the product. Timing and scheduling is always a concern, but the Tradition ' played Aug. 20-23 following a two-week break ' can be slotted in earlier in the year with a week or two between the Senior Open Championship, played last week in England, and the U.S. Senior Open, this weeks Grand Slam.
     
    These guys may be in good shape, but theyre still 50-plus. Give them a chance to get their second, or third, wind before sending them back out.
     

    Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard
  • Getty Images

    Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

    By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

    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.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


    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.

    Getty Images

    Pairings, tee times set for championship match

    By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 1:02 am

    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)

    Getty Images

    Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

    By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

    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.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


    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.”

    Getty Images

    NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 pm

    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.

    Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

    Scoring:

    TV Times (all times ET):

    Wednesday
    4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)