Cut Line Trash-Talk Tour Style

By Rex HoggardNovember 13, 2010, 5:21 am

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The marketing minds who dubbed this slice of central Florida “imagineering” the happiest place on earth never had to cajole a downhill, down grain 15-footer into the hole for birdie to keep their jobs.

Had they faced such a harsh reality Walt Disney World Resort may have gone with something closer to “It’s better than Sheboygan.” Still, Disney provides the perfectly apropos backdrop to the season finale and the year’s ultimate “Cut Line.”

Made Cut

Trash-talk. “Cut Line” is digging on the smack talk between Rickie Fowler, Aaron Baddeley and Troy Merritt – even if it’s mostly of the Twitter variety and relatively tame compared to, say, the venom spewed by the NBA’s Kevin Garnett.

Baddeley had his picture taken with the 2010 Kodak trophy, which was won by Kevin Streelman, and texted it to Merritt, while Fowler, who tied for the Kodak lead with a 6 footer on the Magnolia Course’s 17th hole on Friday, Tweeted, “And we’re tied at the top thanks to (Aaron Baddeley)! Nice birdie Badds!”

Fine, it may be on the soft side of Garnett’s on-court histrionics, but for golf that ranks right up there with “Your momma is so ugly . . .”

Shaun Micheel. The Children’s Miracle Network Classic is Micheel’s first event since his mother died and the soft-spoken former PGA Championship winner was predictably reticent at an event that normally fixates on the insular notion that a lost Tour card is reason to crawl into a pot bunker for an impromptu pity party.

“I had to help carry my mom’s body out of her house,” Micheel said on Wednesday. “The sun was coming up and people were going on with their everyday lives and I’m thinking they don’t know what just happened. It showed me that life goes on.”

Kind of puts things in perspective for the guy who finishes 126th in earnings on Sunday.

Sid Wilson. One of the good guys got his gold watch this week.

Wilson’s name has never showed up on a leaderboard or even a Tour tee sheet, but the circuit’s vice president of player relations has left his mark on a tour that had an earnings average of $104,000, or about $1 million less than it is now, when he set up shop in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Wilson started his Tour career in 1987 in the public relations department, moved to player relations in 1993 and has handled the sometimes unenviable job of kid gloving Tour types with the patience and tact of an U.N. negotiator.

Predictably, after 23 years Wilson’s golden plan is simple – play golf.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Michelle Wie. We’ve watched and wondered, through bad wrist injuries and even worst blows to a developing psyche, if the Hawaiian phenom would, or could, live up to all the expectations.

In recent years she’s rallied, won and, more importantly, developed. But Thursday’s news that Wie withdrew from the Lorena Ochoa Invitational with an ailing back may be the most concerning of all her setbacks.

In retrospect, shaken confidence and a shaky wrist seem trite compared to a 21 year old with a balky back.

Kodak Challenge. It’s hard to get jazzed about a season-long race at say, the John Deere Classic but we have to admit the $1 million free-for-all has added a measure of intrigue to the season finale.

Three lively contenders in Fowler, Baddeley and Merritt and the winner-take-all intensity of it all has created a compelling undercard, but that was until Merritt’s group inched in nearly two holes behind Fowler on Friday.

They teed off 10 minutes apart. Does Kodak not make a stopwatch?

Missed Cut

European Tour. Lost amid the hyperbole of this week’s announcement that Rory McIlroy was done with his American experiment is a move this year by the European circuit to increase the minimum number of tournaments its players must play in 2011.

Starting next season European members will need at least 13 starts to maintain status, up one from this season. The move was a not-so-veiled attempt to keep its talent at home, but it may never be put into practice.

One longtime European insider told “Cut Line” this week there has been plenty of pushback over the new minimum and it may be repealed before it does any more harm.

Corey Pavin. Captain America inched closer to Captain Curmudgeon status this week, lashing back at Sun Mountain, the embattled rain-gear provider at this year’s Ryder Cup.

“I’ve tried to go high road,” Pavin told Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte last week at Harding Park. “But Sun Mountain kind of threw us under the bus (in an interview with the Associated Press), and that’s what bothers me.”

At worst Sun Mountain was protecting its brand, which took a beating in the wake of waterproof-gate. At best Pavin is trying to rewrite history.

Tweet of the week: @PaulAzinger “For those of you that keep asking, I will not be Ryder Cup captain in 2012 here in the United States. Thanks for your support. Go USA!”

Sorry to hear that, but it does clear the deck for a 2013 Presidents Cup captains gig, no?

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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.

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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)

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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.”

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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.


TV Times (all times ET):

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