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Putting together the 2018-19 Tour schedule puzzle

By Rex HoggardMay 16, 2018, 5:50 pm

In March, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan suggested it was his “hope” to announce the 2018-19 schedule at last week’s Players Championship, but as the circuit’s flagship event came and went there was no news.

“We have the situation in Houston and we’re doing everything we can to get that solved,” Monahan said last weekend at TPC Sawgrass. “The optimist in me thought there was a good chance we might have it solved by now. While we’re having good discussions, it’s not yet complete.”

Monahan touched on a number of elements that still need to fall into place – chief among them a title sponsor for the circuit’s annual stop in Houston – before the schedule is ready for public consumption and he added that there is currently no timeline for when the schedule might be announced.

“You’re fundamentally changing your season. You’ve got to work with everybody and explain to them what your objectives are,” he said. “You have to recognize that in some cases there might be change and there might be some negative elements to it and just being a good partner. That just takes time.

“I do look at it as it’s been a lot of fun and I’m really excited about what we’re doing.”

The vast majority of that new schedule, however, is relatively straightforward. According to various sources, in many cases tournament’s own websites, the central elements of next year’s lineup are already in place.

Jan. 3-6  Sentry Tournament of Champions The West Coast swing remains unchanged.
Jan. 10-13  Sony Open  
Jan. 17-20  CareerBuilder Challenge  Although job site CareerBuilder signed a six-year deal to sponsor the event in 2015, sources say a new title sponsor could be stepping in soon.
Jan. 24-27  Farmers Insurance Open  
Jan. 31-Feb. 3 Waste Management Phoenix Open.   
Feb. 7-10  AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am  
Feb. 14-17  Genesis Open The tournament received a boost this year with Tiger Woods’ return to Riviera, but it remains to be seen how the WGC-Mexico Championship’s relocation will impact the field
Feb. 21-24  WGC-Mexico Championship This event had been played in the middle of the Florida swing in early March and the move should make it geographically more convenient for players.
Feb. 28-March 3  Honda Classic The event should receive a lifetime “most improved” award with its move to PGA National in 2007 and Jack Nicklaus’ involvement, but like the Los Angeles stop it could suffer around so many high-profile events.
March 7-10  Arnold Palmer Invitational A week before The Players, two weeks after the World Golf Championship in Mexico and two weeks before the Match Play. That’s a tough neighborhood.
March 14-17  The Players Championship After 12 successful years in May, the circuit’s flagship event moves back to March, which is a central part of the schedule makeover.
March 21-24  Valspar Championship Like Bay Hill, the annual Tampa-area stop will likely take a hit because of the crowded spring calendar.
March 28-31  WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play There was talk about this event sliding to the fall portion of the schedule, but it seems officials ultimately decided it’s best to avoid putting a marquee event up against football.
April 4-7  Valero Texas Open The folks in Houston had made the pre-Masters stop an interesting addition for some players. The challenge for San Antonio is replicating that success.
April 11-14  Masters Tournament  
April 18-21  RBC Heritage  
April 25-28  Zurich Classic The transition to a team event last year has proven to be a boost for a tournament that has historically struggled to draw a deep field.
May 2-5  Wells Fargo Championship Some predicted the success of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow would be the end of a normal Tour event in Charlotte, but officials appear committed to keeping the Wells Fargo Championship on the schedule.
May 9-12  AT&T Byron Nelson A new course this year could backfire on tournament officials and having the PGA Championship wedged in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth swing won’t help.
May 16-19  PGA Championship The move to May is the biggest piece of the schedule makeover, giving golf five consecutive months of “major” events. How this will impact the PGA of America’s ability to play on traditional venues in the Northeast remains to be seen.
May 23-26  Fort Worth Invitational Charles Schwab & Co., recently agreed to a four-year sponsorship deal starting in 2019, and one of the circuit’s most popular courses will assure a solid field.
May 30-June 2  Memorial Tournament  
June 6-9  Houston Open Houston, we have a problem. Monahan confirmed that finding a title sponsor for the event contributed to the schedule not being complete in time for a Players announcement, and sources say officials have until early June to find a new sponsor. If no sponsor can be found, Minneapolis and 3M are poised to step in.
June 13-16  U.S. Open  
June 20-23  Travelers Championship  
June 27-30  Quicken Loans (Detroit) Officials at Quicken Loans have been rather outspoken about this in recent weeks. “Quicken [Loans] has stated where we’re at, so I don’t have anything to add to that,” Monahan said. This event would replace The National on the schedule, which currently doesn’t have a sponsor.
July 4—7  RBC Canadian Open This could be a temporary landing spot for the event, which historically has been played after The Open, but it’s not a bad long-term option.
July 11-14  John Deere Classic  
July 18-21  The Open The game’s oldest major will now become the year’s final major.
July 25-28  WGC-FedEx Invitational With Bridgestone out, FedEx stepped up to sponsor the event, although moving from Akron, Ohio, to Memphis in July will make for, let’s say, a steamy transition.
Aug. 1-4  Wyndham Championship The final regular-season event will essentially become something of a “play in” tournament for players looking to shore up their playoff chances now that the post-season will go to three events with the loss of the Boston-area stop.
Aug. 8-11  The Northern Trust Sources have suggested that this event could feature a golf course rotation that would include TPC Boston, which had hosted the now-departed third playoff event.
Aug. 15-18  BMW Championship With one fewer playoff event, the second post-season stop will take on added importance. Monahan confirmed that the structure will “likely” remain unchanged, with the top 125 players on the regular-season points list qualifying for the first playoff event, 70 for the second and 30 for the Tour Championship. It also seems likely that with one fewer playoff stop the Tour will need to rework the post-season points format to add some volatility.
Aug. 22-25  Tour Championship According to numerous sources, the Tour is looking to change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion, although details of that plan remain unclear. “We’re looking at everything. When we have the schedule finalized we’re get into all the details,” Monahan said when asked about a potential change at East Lake. “It’s just too early, we haven’t made any decisions. We continue to look at the best possible outcome for our fans. We realize that there are some elements to it [the playoffs] that aren’t easy to understand, so trying to get to a world where it might be more understandable than it is today.”
Sept.-Nov. Wraparound season
To be clear, the Tour is not contracting its schedule. There will still be a wraparound season with events in the fall, most notably the Greenbrier Classic, which had been played in July but appears poised for a September date.
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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)