Man for the job?

By Brandon TuckerDecember 14, 2011, 2:54 am

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are just two of eight finalists in line for the coveted job designing 2016 Olympic Games' golf course in Brazil. 

The stakes are high, even though the money, $300,000 to the winning bid, isn't all that much, considering these guys are probably used to seven-figure fees. 

But eight golf course architecture firms are seeking to design the first one purpose-built for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The committee will announce the winning firm early next year. So who has the edge? 

Gentlemen, start your Power Points... 

Nicklaus Design 

Why: Jack Nicklaus' design strategy has certainly evolved over the years, from early courses like Muirfield Village to 21st century designs like Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. Nicklaus wisely sought out Annika Sorenstam as a design consultant and co-marketer, which prompted Norman to respond by calling up Lorena Ochoa for a similar role. 

Why not: The Bear's designs can often be penal. That's great for a tournament site, but considering this course will attempt to grow the game in Brazil to novice golfers, it might be a red flag. 

Greg Norman Golf Course Design 

Why: The Shark-Ochoa team is going to be a juggernaut in the board room. Norman, in my inteview with him back in March, was wise to say that the winner of this project will not only design the course but be a strong proponent for golf in Brazil and in future Olympic Games. Norman has a solid presence in Central America and a planned course, Praia do Paiva, on the east coast of Brazil. 

Why not: In Golf Magazine's Top 100 in the World course rankings, Norman is shut out. Fellow finalists Nicklaus, Tom Doak and Robert Trent Jones II all have entries. However, Top 100 courses are usually a result of a superior piece of property - not a designer who makes the most of an average or challenging site. 

Gary Player Golf Course Design

Why: The acclaimed 'Most traveled athlete in the game' is as much of a global ambassador as golf has. His energetic opinions on young people, fitness, growing the game and ensuring the stewardship of golf have deep roots. At age 76, who would even think to suggest he's slowing down? 

Why not: Player's firm has credit of over 350 courses with a strong presence in Africa. But if you had to pick out a couple of his signature courses, they don't pop out on the screen like some other architects. Player seems to deliver 'consistently good' over 'elite.' 

Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects

Why: Jones II has tournament designs all over the world (whether its The Mines in Malaysia, Dar es Salam in Morocco or CordeValle and Chamber's Bay out west) and that includes Brazil. Yet, his style tends to be more playable for higher handicaps, which plays to the fact Brazil's many new golfers will need a course that won't beat them up. He's also been global as long as he's been in the business (compared to other names who shifted their efforts abroad closer to when the North American market dried up). 

Why not: Jones' portfolio in both length, global presence and highly-rated courses is tough to beat. But will Jones give the same kind of marketing effort Norman, Nicklaus or Player would? 

Renaissance Golf, Tom Doak 

Why: Doak has five designs on Golf Magazine's Top 100 World ranking, more than anyone by far. Using throwback philosophies, he's made the most of remarkable sites like Pacific Dunes, Cape Kidnappers and Barnbougle Dunes. His courses usually have wide fairways and are thoughtful over long, which can cater to beginners. 

Why not: Doak's developers generally aren't concerned with building a pro tour host, so his portfolio demonstrating that kind of course may be limited. Also, by all accounts, the host site for this course isn't exactly Bandon. Doak will have to point to his courses in Lubbock or Myrtle Beach to show he can make something out of nothing. 

Hawtree Limited, Martin Hawtree 

Why: Hawtree claims a long-standing family design tradition dating back to 1912 and they admire his work especially in the British Isles and Ireland. He surely knows about high-profile golf design projects having taken over the gig with Donald Trump in Scotland. 

Why not: If Norman's prediction that the the committee will want a face of golf in the Olympics as much as an architect, will the board be impressed with the more humble Hawtree? 

Gil Hanse Golf Design

Why: Like Hawtree, Hanse has a small-but-strong portfolio, including Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Highlands, which he knocked out of the park

Why not: Hanse is well-known in Europe but not so much in North and South America. The Rio Golf Club, founded in 2002, is his only Brazil project and it has yet to open. 

Thomson-Perrett Golf Course Architects

Why: Another firm that would seem to be heavy underdogs, Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett have a portfolio of over 250 courses. They recently tried to beef up their marketability by adding Karrie Webb to the team if they win the contract. Take that, Jack! 

Why not: Their firm's work is almost exclusively in the Far East (I did enjoy a recent visit to Hamilton Island Golf Club, which made the most of a very severe, Whitsunday Island site). While Aussies and the older generation surely remembers Thomson's five Open Championship titles between 1954 and 1965, the younger folks might exclaim, 'Who?' 

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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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