Rose delivers on years of promise with Memorial win

By Rex HoggardJune 7, 2010, 3:46 am
2007 The Memorial TournamentDUBLIN, Ohio – It’s been a good few weeks for phenoms on the PGA Tour. On Sunday at the Memorial Tournament it was a good day for a phenom reclamation project.

From the depths of the professional abyss Justin Rose had carved out an impressive career since those dark post-Royal Birkdale days when he couldn’t make a putt or a cut. He’d won a European Tour Order of Merit, finished inside the top 10 on the PGA Tour 28 times and has a 3-1-0 Ryder Cup record.

But that maiden PGA Tour title had eluded him like sunny days dodge Muirfield Village in June. That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or so the worn-out bromide goes, but, in Rose’s case, it had left behind a decade’s worth of mental scar tissue.

“He’s done so much on full talent,” said Dr. Gio Valiante, a sports psychologist who began working with the Englishman about three weeks ago. “I was really surprised how much he really didn’t understand about winning.”
Justin Rose
Justin Rose reacts to his first career PGA Tour victory. (Getty Images)
After 66 deftly played strokes on Sunday at the Memorial Tournament the world now understands the depth of Rose’s talent, and the 29-year-old finally grasps what it takes to win on U.S. soil.

Rose roared from four strokes behind fresh-faced phenom Rickie Fowler on a wind-blown afternoon with birdies at Nos. 7, 8 and 9 to turn just a shot back, scrambled for par at the 10th hole and didn’t look back, to say nothing of looking at a leaderboard.

The new-and-improved Rose, armed with enough psycho-babble clichés to make a Chicago Cubs fan feel good about themselves, is finally a PGA Tour winner, having played his final 20 holes bogey-free for an 18-under 270 total and a three-stroke victory over Fowler.

How good was Rose’s closing 66 in swirling winds compared with, say, Ricky Barnes’ ball-in-hand 62 on Saturday? “With a victory on the line I think it’s the best round of the week,” said Sean O’Hair, who played with Rose on Sunday.

For Rose the victory was equal parts validation and vindication.

“You start to sometimes wonder why you can’t get it done?” said Rose, who had finished runner-up on Tour three times, including a tie for second in 2008 at Muirfield Village.

Even on the eve of his American drought-buster Rose was haunted by the notion that he seemed destined to come up short again as Fowler entered the final turn a field goal clear and cruising. So much so Valiante fired his newest charge a check-list text message to steady the ship. The first item: “Make it a day of patience.”

Those words must have been echoing in his head as he stood on the 16th tee waiting to tee off when the crowd surrounding the par-5 15th green erupted.

“I thought, here we go again,” Rose admitted.

It was an eagle, as Rose had feared, but by the other Ricky, Barnes who holed out his second approach shot of the week from 89 yards for an eagle-3. But Rose still delivered, rifling his tee shot to 12 feet for birdie and a 2-up lead.

The outcome, however, had been all but decided three holes earlier when Fowler, who had led from the outset following an opening 65, blocked his 5-iron tee shot at the demanding 12th hole into a water hazard.

Within 10 minutes the Memorial Tournament went from a potentially epic showdown to simply the Rose show thanks to a few words you don’t normally hear from Tour champions on Sunday: “provisional” (Phil Mickelson at the 15th hole) and “drop zone” (Fowler and Barnes at the 12th).

Like that Jack’s hardware was headed back to Orlando, Fla., and young Fowler was left to mull another near-miss. On the 14th tee box Fowler slumped onto a bench next to his caddie – Donnie Darr, the Ohio State men’s golf coach and one of Fowler’s former coaches at Oklahoma State – and reached an epiphany well beyond his 21 years, “If you told me I’d have taken a lead to within nine holes on a Sunday I’d have been happy,” he told Darr.

Earlier this year in Scottsdale, Ariz., Fowler caught grief for laying up on a par 5 with the tournament on the line. To the mop-headed rookie’s credit he never laid down on Sunday in central Ohio.

It’s a testament to Fowler’s talent that his game, not his colorful garb or his head gear, dominated the conversation for the better part of 65 holes. The rookie set a 36-hole tournament record (131), led by three strokes after the second and third rounds and narrowly missed becoming the most recent member of the “Bomb-and-Gouge Generation” to steal the Tour spotlight.

Earlier on Sunday tournament host Jack Nicklaus offered a bit of foreshadowing to the day’s outcome when he said, “There are two things players need to learn to win, one is in the heart and one is in the head. You need both to win.”

Nicklaus’ sage words also seemed apropos for some of the more experienced members of his field.

The great World Ranking debate remains, well, debated after Woods and Mickelson played army golf at the 10th hole on Saturday, with the current No. 1 hitting out of bounds right and the would-be No. 1 going left into the trees, inbounds but off the grid.

On Saturday, the Rickies – Barnes’ 62 and Fowler’s stranglehold on the lead – silenced the Tour’s hierarchy, and the world Nos. 1 and 2 remained silent after their rounds, declining press interviews. Sunday, however, the duo showed signs of improvement, in their games and their long-term prognosis.

In their final U.S. Open tune-up the game’s alpha and omega had games that would best be described as works in progress, but for both the Memorial was progress.

For Mickelson he remained on the fringes of contention until a poor drive at the 15th hole on Sunday, left into a hazard, of course, and tied for fifth at 11 under, while Woods accomplished his stated goal of playing all four rounds following weeks of MC (Quail Hollow Championship) and WD (Players Championship), struggled with his distance control but otherwise looked as serviceable as he has all year.

“I felt like this week I hit some really good shots, shots that I had been lacking,” said an upbeat Woods following his closing 72 to tie for 19th. “I was still a little one-dimensional.”

For far too long Rose felt the same way, making steady progress since turning pro at the tender age of 17 but flummoxed by the slow track to Tour success. On Sunday he finally shed two titles, he’s no longer a phenom or a reclamation project.
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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 11:00 am

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)

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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.”