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Who's in, who's out after emotional Web.com Finals?

By Ryan LavnerOctober 2, 2017, 7:45 pm

Those who miss the now-or-never vibe at Q-School must have enjoyed the tense final round of the Web.com Tour Championship. 

For every success story of a player moving inside the top-25 bubble to earn his PGA Tour card, there was a corresponding tale of frustration and disappointment Monday at Atlantic Beach Country Club. 

Five-time PGA Tour winner Jonathan Byrd won the tournament title by four strokes, but as usual the more compelling action was found further down the leaderboard. 

In all, five players went from outside to inside the magic number, as the top 25 money earners after the four-event Web.com Tour Finals secured their playing privileges for next season (which begins Thursday in Napa, Calif.). 

Seamus Power earned the 25th and final card by $2,688 over Adam Svensson, who missed the cut this week. 


50 players who earned 2017-18 PGA Tour cards

Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


One of the feel-good stories Monday was Steve Wheatcroft, who began the week at No. 23 on the money list but was projected at 29th after a third-round 73. It’s been a difficult year for the 39-year-old, who broke his finger in his first tournament and played through a chipped bone and torn cartilage in the back of his hand ... but returning to his home course helped calm his nerves. “I’m in the back nine of my career,” he said, “but man, I don’t want it to stop yet.”

Wheatcroft is guaranteed at least one more year on the big tour, after he shot a bogey-free 67 Monday. 

“It’s been a long year and it’s been a struggle,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over.”

There were plenty of other heroics, too. 

Chad Collins made eight birdies in the final round to lock up his card. 

Tom Hoge made the cut on the number, then came home in 31, including a 15-foot birdie on the last, to return to the Tour. 

“The feeling is really hard to describe,” he said. “In golf, there are so many downtimes, but it was a pretty cool day today.” 

Byrd, meanwhile, wasn’t even sure whether to tee it up this week. At No. 66 on the money list, he needed a pep talk from his wife earlier in the week just to enter the event, then shot 24-under 260 to head back to the big leagues. 

“I had nothing to lose this week,” he said, “and that helps.” 

Sam Saunders, who on Thursday became the seventh Web.com player to shoot a sub-60 score, tied for second to return to the Tour. He shared runner-up honors with Shawn Stefani, who broke down in tears afterward. 

“Just relief,” Stefani said. “Tears of joy.”

Most heartbreaking was the plight of Matt Harmon, who had worked his way inside the top 25 heading into the final round. With three early birdies Monday, he maintained his position, but he bogeyed the 13th, missed a 3 1/2-footer for birdie on 17 and then three-putted from long range on 18 for another bogey. That left him at No. 32, and he took out his frustration on his putter, bashing his club into the side of his bag and snapping it into two pieces. 

Also on the outside looking in after the Finals were Ryo Ishikawa, Cameron Percy, Matthew Southgate (who was hit with a four-shot penalty in the penultimate event) and Roberto Castro, who reached the Tour Championship in 2016. 

Ben Crane began the season finale in the 18th position, but he decided to skip the Web.com Tour Championship. Crane has been dealing with a back injury, his manager told GolfChannel.com, and he headed to New York City to see his doctor. (He also attended a sponsor outing at the Presidents Cup.) Crane is listed in the field this week at the Safeway Open, and he is hopeful to play about 20 events this year on Tour, after finishing 147th in FedExCup points. 

If the pressure to compete for a PGA Tour card wasn’t enough, the 55 players remaining at the Web.com finale needed to wait another day to learn where they’ll be playing next season, after inclement weather wiped out play Sunday

Former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein topped the Finals money list. Here is the full list of the 25 players who earned their card via the Web.com Tour Finals:

1. Peter Uihlein

2. Jonathan Byrd

3. Nicholas Lindheim

4. Rob Oppenheim

5. Ryan Armour

6. Sam Saunders

7. Shawn Stefani

8. Jonathan Randolph

9. Bronson Burgoon

10. Keith Mitchell

11. Tyler Duncan

12. Denny McCarthy

13. Troy Merritt

14. Tom Lovelady

15. Martin Piller

16. Alex Cejka

17. Matt Jones

18. Cameron Tringale

19. Brett Stegmaier

20. Corey Conners

21. Steve Wheatcroft

22. Chad Collins

23. Tom Hoge

24. Joel Dahmen

25. Seamus Power

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 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 have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on 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 action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.

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Kupcho gets redemption with NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 2:54 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Driving from Chicago to Denver the night of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Championship, Mike Kupcho was worried about what the next two days might bring.

A few hours earlier, he’d watched his 20-year-old daughter, Jennifer, take a two-shot lead into the 71st hole at Rich Harvest Farms. With just 127 yards left for her approach, she hit her pitching wedge the one place she couldn’t afford to miss – short, in the pond – and then compounded the error with a three-putt. The triple bogey dropped her one shot behind Arizona State’s Monica Vaughn.

Kupcho conducted a series of teary interviews afterward, but she had no time to dwell on the heartbreaking finish. She hopped on a plane back home and competed in a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier two days later.

“We were worried about how she’d react – I didn’t know what to expect,” Mike said. “I would have been a wreck.”

But Jennifer fired a 66 in the opening round, then a 72 in the afternoon to earn medalist honors.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Well,” Mike said, “I guess she’s over it.”

Kupcho made it official Monday at Karsten Creek, claiming the NCAA title that should have been hers last May.

The Wake Forest junior won by two shots – the same margin she blew a year ago – for her fourth victory of the season, vaulting her into contention for the Annika Award.

“It’s just exciting to get here after everything I’ve been through,” she said.

Entering the final round in a share of the lead, Kupcho birdied the first but played Nos. 5-7 in 4 over par. It seemed like another collapse was brewing.

“I told her she’s going to have to face some adversity at some point,” said Wake Forest assistant Ryan Potter, who walked alongside her Monday. “There was a lot of golf to play, especially on a course like this.”

A birdie on 11 sent her on her way. She added a birdie on the drivable 12th, dropped another one on the par-5 14th and then canned a 60-footer for birdie on 16.

And so there she was again, two shots clear with two holes to go, when she stepped to the tee on the 17th. She piped a drive down the center, then flushed her approach directly over the flag, leading to a stress-free par. On 18, with water all the way down the left side, she nuked her second shot into the middle of the green for a two-putt birdie.

If there were any lingering questions about whether Kupcho could close, she answered them emphatically Monday. She carded five back-nine birdies for a two-shot victory over Stanford’s Andrea Lee (66) and Arizona’s Bianca Pagdaganan (72).

“Redemption,” Potter said. “She knew she could do it. It was just a matter of holding the trophy.”

After last year’s devastating finish, Potter tacked a photo on his closet wall of a victorious Arizona State team posing with the NCAA trophy. Each day was a reminder of how close they’d come.

“That sticks with you,” he said.

There were areas of Kupcho's game to shore up – namely chipping and bunker play – and she worked tirelessly to turn them into strengths. She built momentum throughout the season, culminating with a dominant regional performance in which she tied a school record by shooting 15 under, holed the winning putt to send her teammates to the NCAA Championship and became just the second player in history to win a regional in consecutive years.

“She’s interesting,” Potter said, “because the bigger the tournament, the bigger the stage, the better she plays.”

Indeed, Kupcho became the first player in a decade to finish in the top 6 in three consecutive NCAAs.

Here at Karsten Creek, she tied a women’s course record with a 7-under 65 in the opening round. And even though she backed up on Day 2, she played the last two rounds in 3 under to claim the title.

The one she kicked away a year ago.

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Kupcho wins NCAA title; final eight teams set

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 1:55 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – On one of the more nerve-racking days of the college golf season two important honors were up for grabs at Karsten Creek – the individual title, and the top eight teams attempting to qualify for match play.

Here’s the lowdown of what happened Monday at the women’s NCAA Championship:

Individual leaderboard (total scores): Jennifer Kupcho, Wake Forest (-8); Andrea Lee, Stanford (-6); Bianca Pagdanganan, Arizona (-6); Cheyenne Knight, Alabama (-5); Morgane Metraux, Florida State (-4); Jaclyn Lee, Ohio State (-3).

Team leaderboard: UCLA (+9), Alabama (+9), USC (+16), Northwestern (+21), Stanford (+28), Duke (+30), Kent State (+32), Arizona (+33).

What it means: Let’s start with the individual race. Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho was absolutely devastated a year ago when she made triple bogey on the 17th hole of the final round and lost the individual title by a shot. She was bound not to let that happen again and this year she made five birdies on the last eight holes to shoot 71 and win by two shots. Kupcho is the first player with three consecutive top-six finishes at the NCAA Championship since Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst (2007-09).

The team race took an unexpected turn at the end of the day when Arizona junior Bianca Pangdaganan made eagle on the last hole to vault the Wildcats into an eighth-place tie, meaning they would enter a playoff with Baylor for the final spot in the match play portion of the championship.

The Wildcats got a reprieve because they played terribly for most of the day and dropped from third place to 10th at one point. In the playoff, Arizona ultimately defeated Baylor in an anticlimactic finish.

Best of the rest: Stanford played horribly the first round. So bad that it almost seemed like the Cardinal shot itself out of the championship. But they played steady over the next three days and ended with the fifth seed. This is the fourth year in a row that Stanford has advanced to match play.

Round of the day: USC shot a 5-under total on Monday, the best round of the day by six shots. They landed as the third seed and will play Duke in the quarterfinals.

Stanford sophomore Andrea Lee shot a 7-under 65, the best score of the day by three shots. Lee made seven birdies and no bogeys and vaulted up the leaderboard 11 spots to end in a tie for sixth place.

Biggest disappointment: Arkansas, the second-ranked team in the country, missed qualifying for match play by one shot. The Razorbacks shot a 20-over 308 in Round 1 and played only slightly better with a 300 in the second round. Consecutive 1-over-par 289 scores were a good try, but results in a huge miss for a team expected to contend for the team title.

Here are Tuesday morning's quarterfinal matchups: