Cut Line Skipping School
What started as a muddy, mindnumbing mess ended with Monday magic, the first Monday finish in 38 Ryder Cup matches. And the half-point victory was about as thin as the margin that separates those who made and missed this week’s cut.
Colin Montgomerie. The 2010 Ryder Cup was Monty’s major. It’s his final ticket to the Hall of Fame, although that conversation should have ended sometime around his fifth European Order of Merit title. It was his masterpiece.
Simply put, the man who can be petulant and perfectly entertaining, sometimes in the same sentence, out-captained America’s Corey Pavin.
From the golf course setup to his deft handling of an often-contentious media Monty’s leadership was easily worth a half point. And with the matches as tightly contested as ever, that half point was the deciding factor.
Emotion. The tough-guy who coined the notion that there’s no crying in golf (Frank Lickliter would be our best guess) never had to hit an uphill chip off a tight lie with a Ryder Cup on the line.
Whatever baggage Hunter Mahan carried home with him from Wales after his singles loss to Graeme McDowell no one will ever question his heart or his dedication to the biennial bout. He lost a point and gained a legion of fans with an emotional exit interview.
Boo Weekley was speaking for many this week when he said, “I almost cried for Hunter.” The Americans may have lost the cup, but they proved once and for all they care.
Cigar guy. The no-named fan caught famously flummoxed in a snapshot of Tiger Woods last week at Celtic Manor is the face of 2010.
With Woods letting go of the club following what appears to be a less-than-perfect chip the stunned look on “cigar guy’s” face is the perfect metaphor for a season that has produced copious amounts of double-takes in the world No. 1’s direction for all the wrong reasons.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Lee Westwood. His return from injury at Celtic Manor was solid, as if we expected anything less from the European horse, but he seemed to get caught up in the jingoistic tenor of the matches when he said he would limit his 2011 schedule to the European Tour.
Westwood’s desire to spend more time at home with his family in the United Kingdom is a refreshing twist on a “me first” tour, but the man who seems destined to unseat Woods atop the world ranking needs to consider his place in the golf universe.
Monty shunned a full PGA Tour schedule in his prime for the friendly confines of the European Tour, and he will make it into the Hall of Fame, but with an asterisks after having never won a major or a Tour-sanctioned event.
Westwood should ask himself WWGD? – What Would Gary (Player) Do?
Sea Island. Chamber of commerce weather made this week’s inaugural McGladrey Classic the gem of the Fall Series, but the Seaside Course should get a “best supporting actor” award.
Short by Tour standards, the par-70 layout is a rarity on the bomb-and-go circuit – a shot-maker’s special that clearly favors the plodders over the pounders with a leaderboard that includes the likes of David Toms, Heath Slocum and Brian Gay.
“We’ve gone too much about power,” said Gay. “We thought the new groove rule would dial everybody back and make hitting fairways important and it really hasn’t done anything.”
Nobody is asking for a steady diet of short and quirky layouts, but a little variety never hurt anyone.
Phil Mickelson. Lefty’s Ryder Cup record is, inexplicably, what we’ve become accustomed to (1-3-0 for an 11-17-6 overall record), but those who dismissed Mickelson’s week in Wales as a total write-off weren’t paying attention.
More so than any other American Mickelson has assumed a leadership role in the U.S. team room, annually taking on the task of rookie mentor and stepping in when things became too intense for Mahan on Monday with the press.
Ryder Cup records can be the game’s most-misleading litmus tests, because there is no way to quantify the importance of leadership.
Tweet of the Week: @ogilviej (Joe Ogilvie): “The line from TopGun, ‘I'll throw it in reverse and they'll fly right by’ is a perfect way to describe my last few months (on Tour).”
John Daly. Fine, the big man played 18 events in 2010 and may have nothing to gain by submitting to the Q-School grind, but he should still try because that’s what professionals do.
It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, the more sponsor exemptions Daly gets the less he needs to play by the same set of rules as everyone else. But if the perpetual reclamation project really wanted to show the world he’s serious about his comeback he would have sent in his check and taken his chances in the Fall Classic.
Corey Pavin. It’s nitpicking, really. Waterproof-gate, a charter snafu that kept some American caddies off the team plane to Wales, his stoic reluctance to acknowledge even the most mundane team detail. But at a modern Ryder Cup all of the nitpicking adds up.
Pavin invested two years of his life into last week’s matches and by all team accounts he was a fine captain. But in this day and age when cups are decided by the thinnest of margins “fine” simply doesn’t cut it.
We’re not sure if the master tactician Paul Azinger could have squeezed another half point out of the U.S. side last week, but we sure would have liked to have seen him try.
High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
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.
Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.
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!
Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship
STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match-play format provides fireworks. Almost always.
In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.
This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.
The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the latter when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.
“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and [the championship] needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”
Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. The Wildcats were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed only to be inside the top eight after 72 holes to advance to the match-play portion of the event.
But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.
On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match-play stalwart the past three years.
Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.
“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a hell of a ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.
But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.
Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.
Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.
Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to decide the NCAA title.
Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, gnarly rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.
With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore missed her birdie putt and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.
In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.
“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”
Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite a while but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.
“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot - that’s all we can ask.”
Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2
Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3
Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3
Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2
Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up
Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole
Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier
Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.
Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.
And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.