Cut Line: Shanghai'd

By Rex HoggardOctober 28, 2011, 5:04 pm

It’s no surprise that a week after the PGA Tour kinda sorta wrapped up its season at Disney and Luke Donald was joined in the winner’s circle by cartoon characters that the Englishman’s stellar year was somehow undercut by the circuit’s Mickey Mouse decision to delay the release of its year-ending award ballots.

Both decisions bookend this week’s Cut Line which goes globetrotting with stops in Shanghai, Malaysia and Spain.

Made Cut

‘King Luke.’ The rank and file can take all the time they need to come to this seemingly obvious conclusion, but Cut Line doesn’t need to see what happens at next week’s faux World Golf Championship to call this election.

Donald posted four worldwide victories in 2011, missed just two cuts around the globe in 24 events and finished inside the top 10 in 75 percent of all his starts.

And for those who need a dollop of style with their substance, Donald won the BMW PGA Championship, a marquee European Tour stop, in May to unseat Lee Westwood atop the world golf ranking; birdied six of his last nine holes last at Disney to win his second Tour title of the season and clip Webb Simpson for the cash crown; and won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February without ever being pushed to the 18th hole.

Asked late Sunday if Donald was his choice for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award Steve Flesch put it best: “Absolutely,” he said. “King Luke rules the golfing world.”

Tell us again why “Luke Donald Disease” is a bad thing?

Tweet of the week: @AndrewColtart “Surely once and for all, it’s possible to be the best player in the world and not win a major! Well done Luke (Donald).”

El Nino. At this time last year, Sergio Garcia was a glorified cheerleader for the European team at The Ryder Cup. Following his victory last week in Spain he is making an early climb to a spot on the varsity squad next year at Medinah.

You remember Medinah, right? The site of the 1999 PGA Championship and the Spaniard’s unofficial “Hello, world” moment.

“Sergio is great for the game,” Golf Channel colleague Frank Nobilo tweeted this week. “Sometimes he plays the villain unjustly but (he is) charismatic.”

Garcia is currently three strokes back after two rounds at the Andalucia Masters and at this pace he may end up leading the Europeans into Chicago next fall – which is good news for golf, if not U.S. captain Davis Love III.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Rules roundup. It was good to see the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews inject a measure of common sense into the latest round of rules adjustment – although Webb Simpson is probably thinking it’s about six months too late – but we’d just like to see golf’s ruling bodies expedite their journey into the realm of reason.

Among the items Cut Line would like the blue blazers to look at is the antiquated idea behind stroke-and-distance penalties and the use of range finders. The two largest problems when trying to grow the game are cost and how long it takes to play a round of golf.

The USGA and R&A can’t do much about three-figure green fees, but converting the miles of out of bounds into simple hazards, which would carry a one-stroke penalty and simple drop, would be an easy fix to speed things up.

Similarly, electronic distance-measuring devices could also help things along, particularly at the game’s highest levels which seem to set the, um . . . pace for everyone else.

“Give us lasers,” Joe Ogilvie said. “There are 20 shots a tournament where guys are going to have weird angles into holes. A laser would cut down the amount of time it takes to figure out yardages from those weird angles by 20 percent.”

The Great Wall. One needs to look no further than the fall schedule to understand Asia’s growing importance in the game. There are no fewer than a half dozen marquee events the next few weeks in Asia, including this week’s tournaments in Shanghai and Malaysia, and they are all anchored by next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

China, however, is turning into something of the “Wild (Far) East” for many in the game. Earlier this week, Jack Nicklaus voiced his frustration in trying to build golf courses in the area saying, “China, for example, is shut down right now golf-wise.”

Golf may end up being just another export China would rather do without.

Missed Cut

Conflict of interest. There’s a marquee event going on this week in Asia that features the cream of the professional crop playing for silly money, and the rumor is the PGA Tour also is playing some sort of event in the area this week as well. Ba-da-boom.

We kid, but the folks at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic are not laughing at the turf tussle that likely cost their field some Q rating. The IMG-run Shanghai Masters didn’t set out to undercut the CIMB event, but a $2 million winner’s check has lured many of the game’s top players away from the co-sanctioned stop in Malaysia this week.

The 48-player CIMB field features just four players ranked inside the top 50 of the world golf ranking, compared to 14 at the 30-man Shanghai stop, and the Malaysia field, which is open to the “top 25 available players from the final FedEx Cup points list,” includes just six players from inside the top 25 in this year’s standings.

We’re all for free-market economics and survival of the fittest, but Asia is a big place. Isn’t there enough room for every one?

Ballotgate. The PGA Tour’s executive vice president of communication and international affairs Ty Votaw called it an “oversight.” Donald dubbed it “sketchy at best.” Cut Line is going to go with yucky.

Whatever you call the snafu that prompted the Tour to delay the release of this year’s season-ending ballots, the result is a blatant violation of the smell test.

On Wednesday’s “Morning Drive” Votaw said the decision to delay sending out ballots for the Player of the Year award until after next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions was out of “fairness to the voting body so that the same information is possessed by all voting members when the ballots are sent out.”

Lost in that logic is the Tour’s policy not to include any results or statistical information on the season-ending ballot, only the names of potential candidates for Player, Rookie and Comeback Player of the Year.

It’s also worth noting that the deadline to return the ballots remains the same (Dec. 9), which would have allowed players to consider results from the HSBC event as well as November’s Presidents Cup regardless of the delay.

Ballotgate is a clerical error not a conspiracy and the electorate can make it all right with a strong Donald vote for POY in December. Word is, ballots will be tallied by a special accounting firm that’s based out of Area 51.

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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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