Fulfilling wants and needs in 2012

By Rex HoggardJanuary 4, 2012, 4:20 pm

You know the drill, oversized pear drops in New York’s Time Square, “Auld Lang Syne” echoes from Bethpage to Bandon Dunes and we promise to reinvent ourselves for the new calendar.

Whatever the perceived shortcoming, Jan. 1 is the tonic, something of a spring training for a hopeful soul, so we open 2012 with a list of New Year’s wants and needs.

Luke Donald. A 2011 almanac and ear muffs. The race is on for No. 1 with Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods all aligned to overtake the Englishman atop the world heap; but all of those scenarios assume Donald will not play like he did in ’11. For those who say Donald doesn’t hit the ball far or straight enough we give you one statistic – five. That’s how many cuts he’s missed in his last 54 worldwide starts.

Lexi Thompson. Tempered expectations. The phenom earned her way onto the LPGA and is being billed as the next great American player. Powerful stuff, but it’s not often one can over promise and over deliver, and it’s not in Thompson’s best interest to try.

Mike Davis. Short-term memory and a lawnmower. After the field torched Congressional last year there is a feeling of dread among players that the U.S. Golf Association will strike back in June when the national championship returns to The Olympic Club.

Rory McIlroy. A push fade when he needs it at Augusta National. That rebound victory at the U.S. Open eased the pain of his Masters miscue, but he will be haunted by that Sunday swoon until he slips into the green jacket that got away.

Phil Mickelson. An impromptu, and wildly uncharacteristic, ban of long putters by the USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Of all of Lefty’s experiments – no driver at the 2008 U.S. Open, two drivers at Augusta National – his late-season switch to a belly putter never added up. You don’t fix one of golf’s most creative short games with a crutch.

Bud Cauley. Twenty extra pounds. Conservatively listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, the rookie has all the tools to be a Tour staple sans a little more mass.

Andrew “Chubby” Chandler. Some stability to go along with a year’s supply of Dramamine and a few airbags. After the year the European uber manager had – his clients won the first three majors in ’11 but his agency lost two players, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy, late in the year – a few quiet nights would be nice.

Hunter Mahan. A half stroke a side. The difference between “H,” who ranked 17th in scoring average (69.90), and No. 1 Luke Donald is 1.04. To a Tour type that may sound like an eternity, but if anyone has the raw skills to pull it off it is Mahan.

Kyle Stanley. Improved grooming. One of the game’s most refreshing up-and-comers made it to the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs as a rookie but cold topped his attempt at a “playoff beard.”

Sandy Lyle. No filter. Next year’s World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony may be the closest thing the HOF has to a can’t-miss event with a class that includes Peter Alliss, Phil Mickelson and golf writing legend Dan Jenkins. The always outspoken Lyle, however, may have the most to say in May.

Rees Jones. A Kevlar vest and thicker skin to withstand another barrage of slings and arrows from players. The affable “Open Doctor” was widely criticized for his handiwork at Cog Hill and Congressional last year and unless Mickelson comes down with a severe case of laryngitis at Torrey Pines one should expect the metaphorical beatings to continue until morale improves.

Tiger Woods. An official win of any kind and a 12-month moratorium on MRIs. The one-time Teflon kid has spent more time in the doctor’s office than a hypochondriacal octogenarian the last two years. The mind and swing are willing; the rest is up to the body.

Tim Finchem. The wisdom of Jerry Seinfeld. The commish sidestepped an ailing economy, landed a new TV deal and staved off the demise of Tour stops in Palm Springs, Calif., and Hilton Head Island, S.C. It may be time to leave them wanting more, as the comedian once reasoned.

Stevie Williams. The serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know when to shuddup.

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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)