Now and Then

By Rex HoggardJanuary 28, 2011, 6:03 am

Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – It’s been 955 days since Tiger Woods grimaced his way to immortality at the 2008 U.S. Open, but it may as well have been 955 years as the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open got under way against a backdrop of cobalt blue skies and a drastically changed reality.

To memorialize – or capitalize, you pick – Woods’ competitive return to Torrey Pines, the PGA Tour contrived a pairing with Rocco Mediate, the everyman who took Woods to extra frames in 2008. But that pairing, and the idyllic ocean views, marked the extent of the similarities between 2008 and Thursday’s opening round.

In 955 days, the world has suffered through recession and early recovery. So has Woods. Since that historic Monday Woods’ world ranking has changed, twice, as has the world order, with a dramatic shift to Europe.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods tees off Thursday on the North Course at Torrey Pines. (Getty Images)
During that time, Lee Westwood, the man who toppled Woods from atop the world heap, has won four times and enjoyed just as many hair color changes. Similarly Mediate’s hairline has changed dramatically, so has the Tour’s company line, shifting to younger faces, to say nothing of Woods’ bottom line, undercut by scandal.

In 2008 Phil Mickelson played with two drivers. On Thursday he needed just one big stick to post a 67, which matched his best round on the South Course since it was redesigned in 2001.

Three years ago the North Course was a practice tee and media center. On Thursday it had been converted to pinched driving areas with unmercifully deep rough, which Woods called the hardest on Tour to hit.

During the SoCal Open, the 14th hole on the South Course played as a drivable par 4. On Thursday, it was where Nathan Green drove his ball, and his round, into the rough, the bunker and three-putted his way to a double bogey-6.

In 2008 Mediate was the lovable antagonist, pushing a hobbled Woods to extra holes on Monday and then some. On Thursday he was just lovable, struggling to a first-round 71

During the ’08 Open, the North’s ninth green was a chipping area for participants. On Thursday Woods chipped his third shot on the North’s ninth, his last hole of the day, to 6 feet only to miss the birdie attempt, a common theme on a day he needed 30 putts.

In 2008 North Torrey Pines Road fronting the seaside muni was a congested mess. On Thursday . . . well some things never change.

On Saturday at the ’08 Open famed architect Rees Jones, who nip/tucked Torrey Pines into shape for the national championship, was high-fiving members of the media following Woods’ eagle on the 18th hole to take the third-round lead. On Thursday someone named Matt Jones made birdie on the South’s 18th and high-fived no one.

In 2008 Westwood missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have earned him a spot in Monday’s playoff with Woods and Mediate. On Thursday the Tour was missing the world No. 1, who first turned down membership and then an invitation into the circuit’s marquee event.

During the ’08 Open, which was played exclusively on the South Course, Woods played the par 5s in 9-under (not counting the playoff). On Thursday he failed to birdie or eagle any of the theoretical three-shot holes.

After each round in ’08, Woods quickly retreated to his hotel to ice his broken left leg. On Thursday, he retired to Torrey’s practice putting green to work on a cold putter. “I kept leaving myself above the hole and these greens are bouncy enough you can’t do that,” Woods said.

In ’08 Chris Kirk, who finished last among the players who made the cut, watched Woods’ finish on Saturday and Sunday from his room in the Hilton adjacent the South Course’s 18th hole. “I was hearing the roars before they would show it on TV and every time I was like, no way,” Kirk said. On Thursday Kirk played two groups behind Woods, birdied two of the four par 5s and clipped the world No. 3 by three strokes.

During the Monday playoff in 2008 Woods and Mediate combined for a best-ball score of 7-under. On Thursday their best-ball score was 6-under on the easier North Course.

But most of all, expectations have shifted for Woods and for golf. At the time he held a 9.229-point lead in the world ranking, a sum that seemed insurmountable, and seemed destined to overtake Jack Nicklaus’ haul of 18 majors. Today he trails Westwood by 1.5 points in the ranking and hasn’t won a major since Torrey Pines. In fact, he hasn’t won anywhere in the world since the 2009 Australian Masters.

So if he seemed overly pleased with his opening 69 on the North Thursday consider how much reality has changed since June 2008. On Wednesday Woods said of his swing change, “I’ve been here before.”

And that’s certainly true, but on Thursday, some 955 days adrift from his quintessential career victory, things have never felt so strangely different.
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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.

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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

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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

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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.