Not Exactly Groundhog Day

By Rex HoggardJuly 1, 2010, 12:51 am

2010 AT&T NationalNEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – On paper and billboard the 2010 AT&T National has a “Groundhog Day” look to it. Same festive date on the docket. Same simple branding. Even a familiar defending champion.

Nothing, however, is as it seems in suburban Philly, and the events post-Nov. 27 are only partially, if at all, to blame. This is a different golf course, a different tournament and a much-different Tiger Woods.

Twelve months ago sprawling Congressional was filled with military pomp and Woods was brimming with confidence having broken out of his post-knee surgery funk with a commanding victory at the Memorial.

Now roll the TiVo ahead a calendar. In many ways Woods’ confidence seems as elusive as that 18th major now does, and the grounds at Aronimink Golf Club, although storied, are missing the patriotic panache that defined Congressional.

But the real proof that the mighty tournament that once could has reached a curious crossroads rests on the tee sheet. Thursday’s opening lineup will included two of the top 10 players in the World Ranking, and just three of the top 20.

The first three editions of the AT&T National drew strangely pedestrian fields, but this week’s lineup looks more Bob Hope Classic than hopeful.

There are no shortage of reasons of why players pass on the AT&T – a holiday weekend many would rather spend with family and fireworks back home and a spot on the schedule less than a fortnight removed from the British Open are the most commonly held notions.

An unknown golf course for this year’s event (and 2011) and Woods’ diminished role with the tournament, when AT&T cut endorsement ties with Woods following revelations of his serial infidelity he also stepped down as the tournament’s host, have likely also added to a wanting marquee.

But make no mistake, Woods’ duties this week go far beyond 9-irons and game faces. He alluded to as much on Tuesday, saying, “I'll still be part of the event and working hard behind the scenes as always. This is a great event for our foundation. We're very lucky and very excited that AT&T wanted to still be a part of this event, which is great.”

On Wednesday Tour commissioner Tim Finchem seemed to echo that notion, harkening back to the event’s early days when the circuit filled the gap left by a second-tier Washington, D.C., stop with Tiger’s AT&T National.

“When Tiger offered us the opportunity to work with him on a tournament it created an opportunity. We’re excited about it,” Finchem said.

Note the tense. The commish is a lawyer and former political wonk, and neither occupation is prone to misplaced bullishness. Lean economic times has the Tour working hard to plug the leaks. Finchem even went so far on Wednesday to acknowledge the “c” word – contraction – if things don’t come around for the likes of Hilton Head and others.

But when it came to the future of AT&T National, a future that took a drastic turn when the check writer cut bait with the host, Finchem was downright buoyant.

“(AT&T is) committed to what the foundation stands for and to the PGA Tour,” he said. “We have a long, very positive relationship with AT&T.”

But then Finchem’s words seemed to fall on largely unheralded ears on Wednesday. Missing in action were most Europeans, back home preparing for St. Andrews, and even with a limited 120-player field officials had dipped further down the priority list than one would imagine necessary for an event with so much potential.

Tour players large and small all hold to the simple notion that scheduling choices are made based on the quality of a golf course, and nothing else. But then AT&T National seems the strange exception to the rule. Congressional was a championship venue by any measure and Aronimink Golf Club, although unseen on Tour for five decades, was enjoying largely rave reviews from the AT&T field.

In this case location, location, location has more to do with a spot on the calendar than a spot on the map.

Tour talk suggests AT&T National officials are eyeing a new date on the schedule the week before The Players Championship. It’s a spot currently held by the Quail Hollow Championship which may not survive past 2014 as the club zealously pursues a major championship.

AT&T National’s predicament goes beyond “flex scheduling” and “designated tournaments,” stop-gap measures the Tour is mulling to improve events with historically weak fields.

AT&T, which has flipped the bill for a blockbuster but has gotten largely “B” list, deserve better. Woods deserves better.

“Tiger paid for most of these guy’s second homes. If he didn’t add a zero to the left of the decimal (in a player’s earnings) he added at least half a zero,” said one Tour player. “You would think they would owe him something.” 

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

Getty Images

Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

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.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“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

Getty Images

Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

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.