Hooks and Cuts: All over the map

By Rich LernerJune 28, 2011, 7:40 pm

Cleaning out the notebook after a couple weeks on the road. From Tiger Woods, to Rory McIlroy, to Yani Tseng, here is my latest hooks and cuts:

- Tiger Woods always has been more interesting when he plays than when he talks.

- Rory McIlroy’s humility is as appealing as his swing. I like that he admits that Tiger’s U.S. Open rout was more impressive than his because Tiger was the only one to break par at Pebble Beach back in 2000. Rory was one of 20 to do so at Congressional.

- American golf certainly isn’t bad, but it’s difficult to point to a guy under 30 and say, “he’s got it all.”

- Yani Tseng has grown up since her father backed off, giving her room to be her own person.

- I’ve not heard any love whatsoever for Royal St. George’s.

- My last four flights have been on SBA – Screaming Baby Airways. They have several daily non-stops to Orlando and the Magic Kingdom.

- Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel are the faces of American women’s golf – all dress well, look good and play well. They acknowledge, too, that there’s an expectation to do all three, which they don’t think is the same for the men.

- Y.E. Yang was there for the end of Tiger and the start of Rory.

- There is no shortage of Korean companies that want to do business with the LPGA. There is, however, a shortage of American companies, though I’m told a few domestic events will be added over the next two years.

- iPads and iPhones are alive and well. Eye contact and conversation are on life support.

- If it’s Rory vs. Tiger Sunday on the back nine of a major in the U.S., the crowds will be tilted in whose favor?

- Sergio Garcia is good again, and that’s good.

- The John Huston Era has begun on the Champions Tour.

- Erik Compton said goodbye to his family twice, on his way to the operating table to get a new heart. Somewhere in Indiana, another family must’ve experienced a bittersweet moment when Compton won on the Nationwide Tour. Erik’s last donor was a vibrant college athlete who was killed in a motor accident.

- If it rains at Merion for the 2013 Open at 6,900 yards and change, what do they do? Fairways 15 yards wide? Eight-inch rough?

- Yani just hits it better than anyone else on the LPGA – longer, higher and straighter. As tough as Pressel is, it’s tough to compete when you’re spotting Tseng 30 yards off the tee.

- A pro gave me a lesson. I’m ready to give it back.

- If it’s a major … men, women, or even the older guys, I’m in. I just like watching majors.

- I like hoops, too. And I think NBA owners are going to back off labor Armageddon because the league is the hottest it’s been since MJ’s final, glorious days. The good will goes away quickly in a lock down.

- It took 25 years but there’s another Freddie on the scene. Of course, there’s really only one Freddie, just as there’s really only one Freddy Yock (Travelers champ Jacobson).

- It may not be a 'Citizen Kane' classic, but Scorsese’s 'The Departed' is inching toward the Shawshank-Gladiator-Godfather-Casino-Goodfellas-Braveheart echelon of watch-it-every-time-it’s-on Hall of Fame.

- I don’t think Rory will duplicate Tiger with five wins a year every year for 10 years, but I’m comfortable saying he’ll win a handful of majors before he’s done. There’s an undeniable bigness to his game and he loves the big moment, whether it’s his 62 to win at Quail Hollow or his 63 to open at St. Andrews. Or, of course, his 16 under to decimate the field at Congressional.

- By 2016 Olympic golf will feel important because our network will have pushed it and promoted it in a way tennis never did.

- Finally, a nod to the Babe, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, whose 100th birthday was June 26. Fifteen months after a cancer diagnosis, she won the U.S. Open by 12. A ground breaker and founding member of the LPGA, Babe was not only one of the greatest golfers that ever lived, but possibly the greatest all-around female athlete that has ever lived.

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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)