The definition of parity

By Rex HoggardDecember 5, 2010, 5:20 am

Par-i-ty [par-i-tee] n. 1. Equality, as in amount, status, or character.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The NFL went with a salary cap. Major League Baseball opted for luxury taxes. All the PGA Tour needed to usher in a new era of parity was one wildly unforeseeable, and infinitely complicated, year.

If the news that Jim Furyk had been named the circuit’s Player of the Year on Saturday isn’t enough to prove that competitive equality at least made a cameo in 2010, Matt Kuchar’s Tour-leading haul of $4.9 million seals it. That’s the lowest winning total for the cash crown since David Duval collected $2.5 million . . . in 1998.

As for Furyk, the Jack Nicklaus Trophy will make a fine bookend with his FedEx Cup, but his three-victory, Tour-leading total is the lowest victory tally in a decade.

For the past decade Furyk’s season would be good, not great, at least not by comparison. “It gets you on the ballot but it wouldn't get you the vote,” he admitted earlier this week.

The statistics, if not the scoreboard, confirm what the golf world has been wrestling with for months – the gulf between the Tour’s haves and have-nots has not been this narrow in some time.

Thirty-nine different players won in 2010, compared with just 31 last year, and the average Tour earnings ($1.027 million) was the third highest it’s been in a decade. It is, in essence, trickledown economics in action.

“The most telling stat is the cut score,” Stewart Cink said. “Look at the distance between the leaders and the cut. It used to be if the leader wasn’t double digits under par the cut came at over par but that’s not the case anymore. The gap (between No. 1 and 125) has definitely narrowed.”

The Tour expedited this year’s Player of the Year vote, either a nod to the obvious choice or maybe they just wanted to close the polls before Woods went on his season-ending tear at the Chevron World Challenge.

Either way, the reality that the Player of the Year was likely a lopsided affair for a non-major, non-money list winner wasn’t lost on Woods following Saturday’s announcement.

“When was the last time a player didn’t win a major got Player of the Year?” he asked. The answer? “Me?” asked Woods, who took last year’s trophy without a Grand Slam keepsake, but he did card six victories and $10.5 million in winnings.

The world No. 2’s point, however, is not lost in the minutia. Without question Woods’ wayward year is, of course, the primary reason 2010 enjoyed such competitive parity. For the first time since turning pro he failed to win a Tour event and 2010 marks just the fourth time since 1997 Woods didn’t claim the Jack Nicklaus Trophy and the fifth time he didn’t win the money title.

Whether parity is good for golf is not so clear. TV ratings and fan interest waned in the wake of Woods’ struggles this season, yet in every other sport parity is longed for, even legislated to varying degrees. Thirty million college football fans can’t be wrong, can they?

“When I first came on Tour I can still remember Greg Norman was the dominant player in the late '80s, and then there was a slow down, and I remember reading about how the PGA Tour was boring because there was no dominant player,” Furyk said. “And then along came Tiger Woods, and he dominated the world of golf for ten years. And then I remember the PGA Tour is boring because one guy kicks everyone else's rear end. It's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't.”

If the Tour had taken on a Mike Tyson forgone conclusion feel in recent years, 2010 was more of a revolving door of dominance. Ernie Els ruled the Florida Swing with two victories, Mickelson won the Masters but was otherwise a non-story, Furyk emerged in the late spring with his second triumph at the Heritage and Kuchar was the best of the fall.

Given the circumstances a supremacy by committee approach wasn’t entirely detrimental given that Woods spent much of the season on an emotional, if not literal, hiatus.

In baseball parlance, it was the year of the wild card with contenders large and small taking turns at the top spot.

“A couple people already mentioned the NFL. The season is fun,” Furyk said. “There are some teams you could pick for the AFC or the NFC that could win it, but it could be four or five teams on either side very easily, and I think that's fun to watch.”

Furyk, as affable and well-spoken as they come on Tour, was asked if Woods’ “off” year somehow tarnished or lessened any of his accomplishments?

“Is it going to be like the Roger Maris asterisk?” Furyk laughed. “My peers voted on it . . . everyone else had the same opportunity to win as the guy that gets voted. I don't see it. I wouldn't feel badly or there wouldn't be an asterisk in my mind.”

No, there’s no asterisk required. But unless things return to the post-Nov. 27 status quo the Tour may want to consider name tags at award ceremonies.

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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)