Woods, Garcia in war of words

By Ryan LavnerMay 12, 2013, 1:56 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The start was ominous, with Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods exchanging first-tee pleasantries and little else Saturday at TPC Sawgrass.

No matter.

They saved their most compelling comments for after the third round of The Players.

In what was billed as the reprising of their longstanding feud, Tiger vs. Sergio, Round No. 20, did not disappoint. After all, this was an opportunity for Woods to reassert his dominance. This was a chance for Garcia to exact some revenge against his longtime nemesis.

And then they played the par-5 second hole. Follow along.

After their drives, Garcia was on the right side of the fairway, while Woods found the pine needles on the left.

What happened next depends on whom you ask.

This much is certain: Garcia blocked his fairway-wood shot way right, into the trees, and a two-shot swing ensued. Garcia made bogey, Woods birdied, and Tiger briefly seized the outright lead.

Garcia claims that fans had cheered as he started his downswing. The reason? Woods had pulled a 5-wood from his bag, and the fans roared because he was attempting to reach the par 5 in two shots.

Clearly agitated, Garcia muttered to himself for a few holes. He seemed to collect himself after the bogey, however, making four consecutive pars. But on No. 7, he had a brief exchange with a heckler as he prepared to play his second shot. 


Video: Tiger-Sergio feud takes center stage

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“Nothing personal,” the 20-something fan told Garcia, “but I hope you miss it.”

Garcia jawed back: “You don’t want to go home early, do you?”

Garcia hit his approach to 30 feet, his final shot before the horn sounded to suspend play because of inclement weather in the area.

Though he hadn’t created much excitement on the course – no birdies on the first six holes before the horn sounded – Garcia opted for pyrotechnics on TV.

In an NBC interview, Garcia blamed Woods for distracting him during the second shot on No. 2.

“I wouldn’t say that he didn’t see that I was ready,” Garcia said, “but you do have a feel when the other guy is going to hit. … I think that I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.”

Well, what Garcia said on national television certainly bothered Woods, who was made aware of the remarks during the nearly two-hour delay.

Upon the restart, Woods played his second shot into No. 7 as Garcia waited by the green. Then, the Spaniard didn’t wait for his fellow playing competitor, deciding to attempt his birdie putt while Woods was still walking up toward the green.

They didn’t interact for the next two hours, until play was finally suspended for the day because of darkness.

With both players struggling with their games for much of the day, it appears they saved their best shots for the post-round interviews.

First came Tiger.

Conducting an interview underneath the clubhouse veranda, Woods was asked about what happened on No. 2.

“Well, the marshal told me (Sergio) already hit so I pulled a club and was ready to play my shot,” he explained. “Then I heard his comments afterward, and it’s not real surprising that he’s complaining about something.”

Did he ever speak with Garcia directly about the incident?

“We didn’t do a lot of talking,” Woods replied, unsmiling.

He spoke for nearly four minutes, then was whisked away by a PGA Tour official.

Less than a minute later, Garcia appeared on the side of the patio. The TV camera lights flipped on.

“It’s very simple,” he started. “You have to pay attention to what’s going on because the other guy is hitting and you do something when you’re in the crowd, and the crowd is going to respond. It’s going to affect the other player. Unfortunately, he didn’t help me very much.

“Obviously, I did hit some bad shots after that, and I’m blaming myself for those. But that was a little bit unfortunate and sometimes you need to be a bit more careful.”

Garcia was then told of Woods’ comments, specifically his remark that it “wasn’t real surprising” the 33-year-old was “complaining about something.”

“That’s fine,” Garcia said. “At least I’m true to myself. I know what I’m doing, and he can do whatever he wants.”

Saturday was merely the latest episode in an ongoing saga between the two high-profile players.

After all, no one has stunted Garcia’s career quite like Woods, dating to their first encounters in 1999.

But it didn’t take long for their relationship to deteriorate.

After finishing second to Woods at the 1999 PGA, the then-20-year-old Garcia celebrated like he won a major – more on that in a bit – when he defeated a flu-ridden Woods in the “Battle at Bighorn,” a made-for-TV exhibition in 2000.

At the 2002 U.S. Open, Garcia complained that play should have been suspended during the second round because of heavy rains. He grumbled to reporters that if Woods had been on the course, play would have been called. Paired in the final round that year at Bethpage Black, Woods shot 72 to Garcia’s 74 and won his second U.S. Open trophy. Garcia, of course, is still majorless.

In the final round of the 2006 British Open, Garcia dressed head-to-toe in canary yellow and was crushed by Woods, 67-73. Afterward, Woods reportedly texted a friend: “I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird.”

In all, they’ve now played in the same group 20 times on the PGA Tour.

Prior to Saturday, Woods had shot the lower score 12 times (and tied four times). Only three times has Garcia carded a better score than his longtime rival, but not since 2006 and never on the weekend.

Through 14 1/2 holes Saturday, Garcia was 1 over par on his round, while Woods was even.

Despite all the bickering, despite all the years’ worth of frustration, Garcia still finds himself firmly in this tournament. With 3 1/2 holes to go in his third round, he is in a tie for second (with Woods and Henrik Stenson), two shots behind surprise leader David Lingmerth.

The bell rings – sorry, the third round resumes – at 7:10 a.m. ET Sunday.

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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.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Wednesday
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.”