Mixed Bag

By Rex HoggardJuly 2, 2010, 4:00 am

2010 AT&T NationalNEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – As news cycles go this one certainly qualified as a mixed bag for one Eldrick T. Woods.

Let the record show in less time than it takes to complete some matches this year at Wimbledon the world No. 1 has been linked to media reports regarding:

– A divorce settlement with wife Elin Nordegren in the London Sun on Wednesday. According to the report Woods will have joint legal custody of the couple’s children, but Nordegren would get physical custody, and she will end up with a cash and property settlement worth $750 million.

– A New York Times report that said Woods met with federal authorities regarding their investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea who has been accused of distributing human growth hormone. According to Woods after his opening round at Aronimink Golf Club the meeting occurred last week in Orlando, Fla., and lasted “a couple hours.”

“I cooperated and answered all their questions,” Woods said and his agent Mark Steinberg told the Associated Press via an e-mail that his client was not the subject of any criminal investigation.

– A Golf Digest Q&A with Hank Haney during which Woods’ former swing coach said his relationship with Woods “didn’t get dysfunctional; it always was dysfunctional.”

– And, finally, in a completely related item, a card that featured 30 putts, just over half his fairways hit and a bogey-par-bogey-double bogey-sloppy par finish here in this leafy Philly suburb that added up to an opening-round of 3-over 73.

Not that golf really matters right now. Salacious matters.

Headlines haven’t spoiled a good walk so thoroughly since George Bush No. 1 was roaming the hallways of the White House and the fairways of Kennebunkport.

For so many years golf wanted mainstream only to discover that mainstream can be mean. Not that Woods doesn’t deserve some measure of his tabloid plight. It’s just that this week’s free-for-all has the feeling of piling on.

Bad news rarely picks a time of our choosing, but here, at a tournament that has brought out the best in Tiger the person as well as Tiger the player, the litany of PR bombs has the feel of karma getting even, or overly creative during a slow news day.

AT&T National has always been a salute to Woods’ father, Earl, and his close connection with the military, and a charitable foundation that, despite the founder’s imperfections, is almost as influential for wayward children as Woods’ resume is historic.

With the move to Aronimink this year and in 2011 officials changed the winner’s trophy to a replica of the Liberty Bell. Perhaps they should have opted for a replica of Rocky given how many times the tournament’s pseudo-host has been on the mat the past few months.

On Nov. 27 we started learning the man was not perfect. In the weeks since he began “The Comeback” we’re coming to grips with the reality that his game isn’t the stuff of Teflon right now either.

But then this much was as predictable as an Aronimink chipping swale, what with headlines like “A hero & a bum at the same time” waiting for him in the morning paper.

The Twitter take on Woods’ opening round: Hit it well enough, couldn’t buy a putt. See: Beach, Pebble sans the “awful” Poa.

Of course it’s hard to imagine a player, even a once-in-a-generation guy like Woods, putting the blinders on for a 66 as the fishbowl gets smaller by the headline. Some people compartmentalize in situations like this, Woods may need to build a castle if he’s going to weather the storm that continues to build.

The question isn’t where he is in the comeback, the question is where he is as Rome crumbles.

When the fourth or fifth most-pressing question for Woods is which club he knocked into the pond at the 17th hole golf is no longer an escape, it’s background noise.

We recently asked one Tour sports psychologist what pro bono advice he would offer Woods in his time of need? Wouldn’t know what to say, was the answer.

Woods was asked Thursday afternoon if it was hard to focus on golf given everything going on his life? “I’ve ran a few tournaments over the years,” he answered, either missing the point or making the most of an opportunity to duck a difficult question. Either way, the answer makes one wonder if there’s enough steely resolve within that red shirt to shoulder through all the clutter and do what he does best – win.

St. Andrews in two weeks had the feel of a fitting first given his track record on the Old Course, but then the British press promises to be even more pointed then their American cousins. All of which would make a third Open Championship victory at the Auld Grey Toon more than historic, it would be heroic on some level given the circumstances.

“Tiger’s an old 34, no doubt about it. It’s good and it’s bad,” Haney told Golf Digest. “On one hand he has more experience; on the other hand maybe he sometimes feels tired of the whole thing. It’s a guess, really.”

And getting older with each news cycle.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

Arizona's women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 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.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

• 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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

A post shared by ETPI (@etpi_performanceunit) on