PGA Tour makes the right call in allowing for Harman

By Rex HoggardMay 10, 2012, 5:46 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – For a game that has been guided for centuries by the simple, unwavering tenets of rules we sure have gotten willy-nilly of late, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

On Wednesday PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem surprised many when he acknowledged that the circuit ignores its own policy and continues to allow a co-sanctioned event at Augusta National despite its all-male membership.

A day later the Tour again colored outside the lines to sidestep one of the most embarrassing episodes in pro golf history since Roberto De Vicenzo mixed up his math and lost a Masters.

It was a day that began at 7 a.m. for Brian Harman, an up-and-coming Tour rookie and this week’s first alternate into The Players Championship. After hitting some warm-up shots on TPC Sawgrass’ practice tee Harman informed Tour officials he’d be in the clubhouse if someone withdrew.

PGA Tour's statement regarding the Harman-Points controversy

Not long after that D.A. Points brushed past your correspondent on his way to the fitness trailer looking for treatment for a sore back. Wishing for the best, Points struggled to the first tee but by the time he arrived for his 8:39 a.m. tee time he realized he couldn’t play.

“You could tell something was wrong. He was trying to swing, but it wasn’t pretty, said Robert Garrigus, who was in Points' group. “I told him if he couldn’t play he should withdraw and let someone else in.”

What transpired was something of an imperfect storm, complicated by time and the space between TPC’s first tee and its sprawling clubhouse. Some have suggested Points was too slow to notify officials of his WD, although officials did say the veteran did everything within the rules, but consider his Thursday plight.

“He was fine and about 25 minutes before his tee time he tweaked it. He didn’t think it was going to be an issue,” said Brad Buffoni, Points’ manager with Wasserman Media Group. “He was going through his full pre-tournament routine and that’s when he tweaked it.

“He takes a couple of practice swings and realizes he has no chance. Rather than hit the shot and have the alternate have no chance to be in the field he tells them he’s going to withdraw. He’s thinking of getting someone in the field.”

This is where it gets complicated.

When a player withdraws before teeing off for his first round officials normally scramble to replace him in the field with the next available alternate, but Harman was never notified, at least not until it was too late.

“Very unusual situation,” said Mark Russell, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition. “In my 31 years I never remember a player withdrawing right before he was supposed to tee off.”

By the time officials learned of Points’ exit his group was on the second hole and the empty spot, Harman’s spot, remained unfilled.

According to Tour rules, if the next available alternate isn’t around officials move down the list – in this case to Greg Owen, who was at his home in Orlando, Fla. – until there are no more alternates. At that point the alternate list is discarded and if someone withdraws they are not replaced.

But Tour officials had a problem, Harman had been available, but the logistics of Points’ withdrawal conspired against him.

As Harman stood on the practice tee warming up for a tee time that might never materialize he couldn’t help but laugh at the strange turn of events.

“I thought I was in the field twice this week,” he smiled, pointing out that when Fred Couples withdrew earlier this week he initially thought he was in until officials informed him that because Couples was in the field via his victory at the Senior Players Championship the spot would not be replaced.

In what can only be described as a victory of reason, the Tour concluded, after lengthy discussions with the U.S. Golf Association, that “Brian Harman had done everything we asked him to do,” Russell said.

In a break from protocol, if not reason, officials decided to give the rookie a spot in The Players field, sending him out alone at 12:20 p.m. for Round 1 and on Friday he will play with Ryan Moore and Bud Cauley in the 8:50 a.m. group following Paul Casey’s withdrawal midway through his opening round.

“This is not a shuttle launch,” said Mac Barnhardt, Harman’s manager with Crown Sports Management. “They made the right call. I was in contact with (Tour official) Ross Berlin who was working on Brian’s behalf. They were going to protect their member at all cost.”

Non-golfers will consider the entire affair ridiculous. Of course the Tour squeezed Harman into an unused tee time because it was the right thing to do, correct? But then golf doesn’t exactly have the market cornered on reason.

“I had no idea what was going to happen. I just tried to put it out of my mind. If I get in great if not Dad was putting the boat in the water so I was going to have a good day regardless,” Harman said following his first-round 73. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shook up by what happened.”

The Rules of Golf are riddled with items that exceed the boundaries of what, in any other sport, would be considered fair play. Perhaps it is part of what makes golf special, but in Harman’s case there was nothing to be gained by a dogmatic adherence to the rules.

A society prone to damage control may not like it, but this was nothing more than a crime without culpability, just victims; and the Tour made the right call regardless of the letter of the law.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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