Golf - A Global Game

By Tom AbbottMarch 4, 2008, 5:00 pm
I must first say thank-you to those of you who wrote to me regarding my last article a fortnight ago.
 
I had asked for your views on the WGC events and the response was somewhat overwhelming. And I did read all the e-mails. It was extremely interesting to hear the varied viewpoints on the matter.
 
Most folks are in favor of bringing the best players in the world together and if that means having to play the tournaments on American soil then so be it. I will point out though the international communitys views differed, favoring a truer global series. Here are some of the more interesting points:
 
  • The LPGA Tour is way ahead of the PGA TOUR in terms of encouraging participation from countries outside of its home
  • One WGC event should be played in the U.S., the other in Europe and final one in Asia, Africa or Australasia
  • The WGC should move toward basing their series on the Masters series in tennis
     
    The English Open Returns
    Many of you reading this in the United States will be planning or may have taken a golfing trip to Europe. The great links venues are a must see but there are some other courses worth a trip, one of which is the International at St. Mellion.
     
    A Nicklaus design, the course works itself around a hillside, diving down into the valley below, giving a very mixed bag of shots and some gorgeous views. It played host to the Benson and Hedges International Open for a number of years, The Players Championship of Europe has been there and in recent times, The Midas English Seniors Open.
     
    Now, The English Open will be reborn at St. Mellion.
     
    I remember as a youngster going to watch the English Open, it was always a good event, especially at the Forest of Arden, with the par 3 finish, and a haunting back nine through those big ancient oak trees. In 2003, the tournament vanished from the European Tour schedule, seemingly never to return, but next season it will, thank goodness. Yes, its my national open and Im bias, but with Ballesteros, Norman, Woosnam, Montgomerie and Westwood on the winners list this one deserved to stick around.
     
    I will say though, wait until after the 2009 tournament before making your visit, the course, clubhouse and hotel facilities are going through an upgrade and youll want to see this place in its best light.
     
    One to Watch
    My home club of Walton Heath, just south of London, hosts the South of England Amateur Championship each year. Top players from throughout Europe and some further afield come to compete. Last year a young Englishman surprised all the big names by running away with the title - 10 shots was the victory margin. The very next week he went to the English Amateur Championship and did it again, this time in match play. A Walker Cup cap beckoned and no longer were people saying whos Daniel Willett?
     
    It seems Willett is no flash in the pan, last week he captured the Spanish Amateur Championship with a 5 and 3 victory over local boy Jordi Garcia Pinto at Pals on the Costa Brava. Willett was on scholarship at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, but decided to pack it in after a couple of years with the Gamecocks to concentrate on his career in Europe. A life in the pros is surely beckoning, dont be surprised if you see his name pop up as the European Tour hits the continent in the coming weeks.
     
    On Safari
    The Challenge Tour regulars boarded planes in various spots around the globe on Monday, destination Nairobi. After a break of three months the boys are back at in Southern Africa for the third event on the schedule. Five players to watch-out for this season are:
    -Miguel Rodriguez
    -Marco Ruiz
    -Rafael Cabrera Bello
    -James Heath
    -Adam Gee
     
    Email your thoughts to Tom Abbott
     
    Related Links:
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    Arizona caps an improbable journey with a title

    By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2018, 3:49 am

    STILLWATER, Okla. – Five hours before the final match at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Arizona coach Laura Ianello sat cross-legged on a couch in the Holiday Inn lobby and broke down four times in a half-hour interview.

    It’s been that kind of exhausting season.

    From poor play to stunning midseason defections to a stroke-play collapse, Ianello has felt uneasy for months. She has felt like she was losing control. Felt like her carefully crafted roster was coming apart.

    So to even have a chance to win a NCAA title?

    “I know what this team has gone through,” she said, beginning to tear up, “and you don’t get these opportunities all the time. So I want it for them. This could be so life-changing for so many of them.”

    A moment that seemed impossible six months ago became reality Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

    Arizona continued its magical run through the match-play bracket and knocked off top-ranked Alabama to capture its third NCAA title, with junior Haley Moore – who first rose to fame by making the cut at an LPGA major as a 16-year-old – rolling in a 4-footer to earn the clinching point in extra holes.

    All throughout nationals Arizona was fueled by momentum and adrenaline, but this was no Cinderella squad. The Wildcats were ranked ninth in the country. They won twice this spring. They had four medalists. They were one of the longest-hitting teams in the country.

    But even before a miracle end to NCAA stroke play, Arizona needed some help just to get here.


    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


    On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, texted Ianello that she was turning pro. It may have been a gift to her parents, for their years of sacrifice, but it was a lump of coal in Ianello’s stocking.

    “I was absolutely heartbroken,” she said. “It was devastating.”

    Even more bad news arrived a few weeks later, when junior Gigi Stoll told Ianello that she was unhappy, homesick and wanted to return to Portland, Ore. Just like that, a promising season had gone off the rails.

    Ianello offered her a full release, but Stoll looked around, found no other suitors and decided to remain with the team – as long as she signed a contract of expected behavior.

    “It was the most exhausting two months of my life,” Ianello said. “We care so much about these freakin’ girls, and we’re like, Come on, this is just a small, little picture of your life, so you don’t realize what you’re possibly giving up. It’s so hard to see that sometimes.”

    Stoll eventually bought in, but the rest of the team was blindsided by Quihuis’ decision.

    “We became even more motivated to prove we were a great team,” said junior Bianca Pagdanganan.

    It also helped that Yu-Sang Hou joined the squad in January. The morale immediately improved, not least because the players now could poke fun at Hou; on her fourth day on campus she nearly burned down the dorm when she forgot to add water to her mac-and-cheese.

    Early on Ianello and assistant Derek Radley organized a team retreat at a hotel in Tucson. There the players created Oprah-inspired vision boards and completed exercises blindfolded and delivered 60-second speeches to break down barriers. At the end of the session, they created T-shirts that they donned all spring. They splashed “The Great Eight” on the front, put the state of Arizona and each player’s country of origin on the sleeves, and on the back printed their names and a slogan: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

    “I can’t think of anything else that better embodies this team,” Radley said.

    This spring, they rallied together and finished no worse than fourth in a tournament. Through three rounds of stroke play here at the NCAA Championship, they used their distance advantage and sat third in the standings. Then they shot 17 over par in the final round, tumbling outside the top-8 cut line.

    They were down to their final chance on the 72nd hole, needing an eagle to tie, as Pagdanganan lined up her 30-footer. She dramatically drained the putt, then gathered her teammates on the range.

    “This means we were meant to be in the top 8,” she said. Less than an hour later, they beat Baylor in the team playoff to earn the last match-play berth.

    Ianello was so amped up from the frenetic finish that she slept only three hours on Monday night, but they continued to roll and knocked off top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals, beating a pair of Player of the Year contenders, Lilia Vu and Patty Tavatanakit, in the process. In the afternoon semifinals, they jumped all over Stanford and won easily.

    It was a cute story, the last team into the match-play field reaching the final match, but a stiffer challenge awaited the Wildcats Wednesday.

    Alabama was the top-ranked team in the country. The Tide were a whopping 110 under par for the season, boasting three first-team All-Americans who were so dominant in their first two matches that they trailed for only two of the 99 holes they played.

    Ianello already seemed to be bracing for the result on the eve of the final match.

    “Win or lose,” she said, “this has been a hell of a ride.”

    But their wild ride continued Wednesday, as Hou won four holes in a row to start the back nine and defeat Alabama’s best player, Lauren Stephenson, who had the best single-season scoring average (69.5) in Division I history.

    Then sophomore Sandra Nordaas – the main beneficiary after Quihuis left at the midway point of the season – held on for a 1-up victory over Angelica Moresco.

    And so Arizona’s national-title hopes hinged on the success of its most mercurial player, Moore. In the anchor match against Lakareber Abe, Moore jumped out to a 2-up lead at the turn but lost the first three holes on the back nine.

    By the time Radley sped back to help Moore, in the 12th fairway, she was frazzled.

    “But seeing me,” Radley said, “I saw a sense of calm wash over her.”

    Moore played solidly for the rest of the back nine and took a 1-up lead into the home hole. She didn’t flinch when Abe hit one of the shots of the entire championship – a smoked 3-wood to 12 feet to set up a two-putt birdie and force extras – and then gave herself 4 feet for the win on the first playoff hole. She sank the putt and within seconds was mobbed by her teammates.

    In the giddy aftermath, Ianello could barely speak. She wandered around the green in a daze, looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

    The most trying year of her career had somehow ended in a title.

    “At some moments, it felt impossible,” she said. “But I underestimated these young women a little bit.”

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    Pac-12 continues to dominate women's golf

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 3:04 am

    Arizona's national women's golf championship marked the fourth consecutive year in‌ which the women's Division I national title was won by a Pac-12 Conference team. All four championships were won by different schools (Stanford, 2015; Washington, 2016; Arizona State, 2017; Arizona, 2018). The Pac-12 is the only conference to win four straight golf championships (men or women) with four different schools.

    Here are some other statistical notes from the just-concluded NCAA Div. I Women's Golf Championship:

    • This is the second time that Arizona has won the national title the year after rival Arizona State won it. The last time was 1996.

    • Arizona now has three women's golf national championships. The previous two came in 1996 and 2000.

    • Arizona is only the sixth school to win three or more Div. I women's golf championships, joining Arizona State (8), Duke (6), San Jose State (3), UCLA (3) and USC (3).

    • Arizona's Haley Moore, who earned the clinching point on the 19th hole of her match with Alabama's Lakareber Abe, was the only Arizona player to win all three of her matches this week.

    • Alabama's Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight also went 3-0. Gillman did not trail in any match.

    • Since the match-play format was instituted in 2015, Arizona is the lowest seed (8) to claim the national title. The seeds claiming the national championship were Stanford (4) in 2015; Washington (4) in 2016; and Arizona State (3) in 2017.

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    High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

    By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

    TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

    ''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

    Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

    ''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

    The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

    ''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

    In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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    Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

    By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

    Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

    Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

    @beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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