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The buzzkill that ended the otherwise incredibly exciting NCAA Women's Championship

BRADENTON, FLA. -- For as energizing as the final 40 minutes of the NCAA Women's Championship played out Wednesday at The Concession G.C., it was the last 10 seconds that were the most unimaginable.

All that excitement replaced with chilling silence.

No one -- players, spectators, officials, Golf Channel commentators -- knew exactly how to react when Hayley Davis, the senior leader of the Baylor women's golf program and arguably its all-time best player, missed her five-foot par putt on the 19th hole of what turned out to be the deciding match of the championship. When her ball slid right of the hole, it allowed Stanford junior Mariah Stackhouse, already in with a par, to win her third straight hole and complete a comeback from 2 down with two holes to play to give the Cardinal and coach Anne Walker their first NCAA women's golf title.

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Mariah Stackhouse (second from right) won the deciding match to give Stanford
its first NCAA women's golf title.

Such a thrilling finish -- the final three holes in regulation were won with exception shots that set up birdies -- wasn't supposed to end with such a painful miscue.

"I looked back at the team like, 'Do we celebrate? What happens now?' " Stackhouse said.

It goes without saying that the much publicized change in format to include match play to crown a team winner brought with it the drama and thrills that everyone had hoped. But along with it came an unintended -- or at least unfortunate -- consequence: heartbreak.

"It was tough because I know all of my teammates . . . I kept hearing they're playing for you," said Davis, a 22-year-old from Wimborne, England, her tear-soaked face making her disappointment obvious. "That was the hard thing.They gave me the chance to win it for them and I wasn't able to make it happen."

The missed putt sadly overshadows the incredible shot Davis pulled off on the 16th hole to seeming take control of the match and put Baylor in position to win the program's first national title -- after having finished no better than T-16 in two previous NCAA appearances. Standing 1 up on the tee and knowing that their match would decide which program walked off with the title (the four proceeding matches had been split 2-2), Davis hit her tee shot into a hazard. The good news was that the ball was playable, coming to rest on a patch of muddy dirt. The bad news, it a glob of the mud stuck to the ball.

Undaunted, Davis pulled out an 8-iron and nearly holed her 134-yard approach, leaving herself a four-foot birdie try that she converted to win the hole. "That was the thing," Davis said, "when I got up there, just to see that it was playable, I was excited, like I've been given a chance, like I'm going to make the most of it, and it paid off."

"That shot on 16, under the conditions, might have been the best shot I've ever seen," said Baylor coach Jay Goble. "I can't say that I walked up to her and had a warm and fuzzy feelings that she was going to hit it up there four or five feet away. But if anybody can do it, Hayley Davis can do it."

Given such a stunning change in momentum, with Stackhouse now dormie, the Stanford All-American and 2014 U.S. Curtis Cup player could easily have folded. Instead, she responded with inspired shots of her own. On the par-5 17th, she hit the green in two with a 3-hybrid from 209 feet, setting up a birdie to win the hole. Then on the par-4 18th, she hit her approach to eight feet and made another birdie putt to extend the match.

"I think I kind of had the easier hand because I had to go for it versus protect [a lead]," Stackhouse said. 

While Stackhouse played at a higher level as the match wore on, overall the play on Wednesday was a little ragged, a byproduct likely of the seven straight days of practice or competition for the two teams in the finals.

"This is all adrenaline," Stackhouse said. "At this point, it's the last match. You're not going to get tired because it matters too much."

So much will be forgotten in the aftermath of Davis' miss. For instance Stanford sophomore Casey Danielson winning the final two holes of Match No. 1 against Baylor's Laura Lonardi, to make Stackhouse's match matter in the first place. And Cardinal freshman Shannon Aubert winning her third match of the week in Match No. 2, beating Lauren Whyte, 4 and 3.

What will also be forgotten -- or maybe just gone unnoticed -- is how Davis reacted in the aftermath of arguably her worst moment in golf. Five minutes after her miss, the tears were still coming down her cheeks. Yet Davis walked back on the green where her opponents were celebrated, and proceeded to give each one a congratulatory hug.

"I don't know, forever," Davis said when asked how long it might take to get over what happened. "It's a five-foot putt. I've made probably thousands of those putts in my life. And that one didn't go in."

Davis paused, still sad, but composed.

"I mean it's tough, but I know I tried."

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Equipment

Jack Nicklaus was so good he used the same 3-wood for 37(!) years

Of all Jack Nicklaus' accomplishments -- 18 professional majors, 73 PGA Tour titles, etc. -- one number might stun golf fans more than any: 37. As in the 37 years Nicklaus used the same MacGregor Tommy Armour 3-wood.

Related: The most important clubs in Masters history

The magical club is on display with other artifacts from Jack's storied career at the USGA's new Jack Nicklaus Room in Far Hills, N.J. Nicklaus used the 3-wood from 1958 through 1995, meaning he won all of those majors (beginning with the 1962 U.S. Open and ending with the 1986 Masters) and PGA Tour titles with it in the bag.

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This would be incredible in any era, but in an age when even amateurs update clubs on an annual basis, it's downright astonishing. Can you imagine Rory McIlroy winning the 2035 Masters with the same 3-wood he had in the bag to win his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open? Will the 3-wood even exist in 2035?

And it wasn't just that 3-wood. Our Mike Johnson wrote about Nicklaus' tendency to stick with clubs he liked in the June 7, 2010 edition of Golf World.

"Jack hardly changed anything," said Clay Long, who worked on Nicklaus' equipment at MacGregor.

Sounds like an easy gig.

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News & Tours

Husband and wife make back-to-back aces on the same hole (Yes, this really happened)

Just when you think you've heard every possible hole-in-one story, a new one comes along more incredible than any you've heard. A husband and wife?! Back-to-back aces?! Yep, it happened.

The story of the Blundys comes from the Lansing State Journal, and seems legit thanks to a pair of witnesses who saw what went down on the 16th hole at Ledge Meadows Golf Course in Grand Ledge, Mich. on Sunday. Tony Blundy went first and one-hopped a 7-iron into the hole from 135 yards out.

Related: 15 wacky golf Guinness World Records

It was Tony's first hole-in-one, which matched his wife, Janet's, total. But apparently, Janet had no interest in staying tied with her husband. "You're going to be really mad when I put mine in," she said as she walked to the women's tee box. She then knocked in her pitching wedge from 110 yards.

In other words, Janet Blundy is the Babe Ruth of calling golf shots.

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The National Hole In One Association puts the odds of two amateurs in the same foursome making an ace on the same hole at 26 million-to-one. Simple math would make the odds of both players in a twosome doing it on a consecutive shot at least twice that. And as far as a husband-wife combo to pull off the feat? Let's just say it's pretty unlikely considering there doesn't seem to be another recorded instance of it happening.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

"It's surreal. I keep expecting to wake up and it's a dream," Janet said. "If I do, I'm gonna be mad."

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Art

Interior designers take note: A larger-than-life Tiger Woods wall decal from Fathead

The Tiger Woods fist pump as a design element probably has never occurred to certified interior designers, but that was before this: The larger-than-life Tiger Woods Fathead wall decal.

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Fathead announced recently that it had secured licensing rights to produce these vinyl wall decals for Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. Put them all up together and you’d have a veritable wall of fame.

“We’ve had this extraordinary deal in our sights for quite a while,” Patrick McInnis, Chief Executive Officer of Fathead, told Forbes. “The demand Fathead has received for these iconic athletes is unprecedented.”

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The Tiger Woods fist pump decal (shown above) measures six feet, four inches, or three inches taller than Woods himself. It’s available for $100. There are several other Woods’ decals, including those of variable sizes, one of which is what Fathead calls a Big Head (shown here). There are also Woods’ wall murals and a high-definition stand out.

Fathead previously has offered wall decals of Ian Poulter and John Daly, as well as wall murals of various golf holes.

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Video

Watch a mountain lion play with a flagstick on an Arizona golf course

Here is your mindless entertainment for the day. A mountain lion came onto the Desert Mountain Golf Course in Scottsdale and played with the flagstick on the 18th hole. Just sit back and watch:

Another day in paradise… while a Mountain Lion plays with a the flag on #18 of the Chiricahua course at Desert Mountain last week.

Posted by Wendie Marlais on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

If this sounds familiar, you're right. Last year a bear did the same thing at a course in British Columbia.

Related: The top 25 viral videos of 2014

This time, the people filming the brush with nature didn't get as close. Probably a smart idea.

(h/t Golf News Net)

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Trending

The 300-yard markers at this golf course say "Only Bubba"

Kudos to golf courses that have a sense of humor. One Reddit user says the 300-yard markers at his home course in Illinois say, "Only Bubba."

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This is refreshing. I always shake my head when I see sprinkler heads that offer ridiculous yardages that 99.9 percent of golfers would never actually need. Like the "332" one I recently saw. Is that a soft 6-iron or a hard 7?

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A couple other Reddit users chimed in on funny messages they've seen:

"There's a sprinkler head at one of the local courses that is 300+ yards and it says, 'You're not Tiger.'"

"There's one on my home course that just says, 'Dream On.'"

"There's one course I played where a marker said, 'Just hit the damn ball.'"

"I saw one that said, 'More than you got.'"

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, GolfNewsNet.

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Celebrity

J.R. Smith celebrates the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the Eastern Conference Finals by going to play golf

At the start of 2015, J.R. Smith was on a team with the worst record in pro basketball. Now a few months later, he's headed to the NBA Finals.

But first, it's time to celebrate by playing a little golf.

Related: 11 questions with golf fanatic J.R. Smith

On Wednesday morning, Smith posted this photo indicating his plans to play and showing off the NBA Finals hat he's been wearing since the Cleveland Cavaliers finished off their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night:

Going to the golf course like!!!

A photo posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

In fact, Smith and teammates LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert and Kendrick Perkins were so excited about the hats that they wore them in a post-game hot tub celebration as well:

What more can I say!! ##JustSaying @k1irving @imanshumpertthe1st @perk_409

A video posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

The Grind: Bubba goes in the dunk tank and Keegan/Jillian go out in NYC

Up next, the Cavs will likely face another avid golfer, Stephen Curry, and his Golden State Warriors. And because the Cavs made such quick work of the Hawks, they'll now have eight days off before the Finals start. Enjoy, J.R.

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Courses & Travel

Six things that happen when you go to the grand opening of Trump National Ferry Point

We were on hand for the grand opening of Trump National Ferry Point. Here are six things that happened:

1. The parks department gives you a history lesson about the land the course is built on. This particular section of the Bronx was once a landfill. After a few decades of back and forth, they've finally converted what was once a mess, into a golf course. (No one is quite sure how much money it actually took to make that happen. The closest answer? A ton.)  

Related: Golf courses that were built on unconventional sites

2. You get to play links golf. With the sloping fairways, fescue growing on mounds all over the course, and wind whipping off the East River, you could've thought you were in Ireland -- if Ireland had 90-degree days and a view of the Manhattan Skyline. 

3. You see the Trump helicopter, along with the rest of the family. Ivanka even hit a tee shot in heels. #impressed   

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4. Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, show up -- as modest and lovable as ever. I had never met Jack before, and I fan-girled, as expected. And he was awesome, as expected.

5. You get to see a sense of community. In a city of millions, it can be easy to lose the camaraderie that comes with being a part of an active community. The course hired 60 Bronx residents. Everyone working there knows each other, and knows that the course they're working at is something unlike anything the Bronx has seen.  

6. Views! There are views of the East River, the Manhattan skyline, and both the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges from multiple spots on the course. But the best is coming up 18: When you're hitting in, the green feels like it's tucked under the Whitestone.  

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: How Jordan Spieth could make (odd) history at the Byron Nelson

You probably didn't realize it, but Jordan Spieth has a chance to make history this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson -- not that he necessarily wants to. The reigning Masters champ has finished runner-up in all three PGA Tour events played in his home state of Texas this season. Should he make it four for four -- the Lone Star Second-Place Slam? Hmm, let's work on this -- it would be an impressive, yet frustrating feat. What's sure to frustrate everyone in the field, fans, and tournament officials, though, is the record amount of rain the Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to get in May. The soggy conditions at TPC Las Colinas will give long hitters a huge advantage both in winning the tournament and for picking up fantasy points. Finding fairways will be easier, but picking up those five-pointers for 300-yard pokes is going to require guys who can carry the ball a long way. Whose brawny arms are we turning to for help? Here's our weekly PGA Tour Fantasy Golf lineup:

Related: Sign up for PGA Tour Fantasy Golf

Jordan Spieth: Not a bomber, but not short by any means, either. Plus, he's Jordan Spieth. Consider that he was in contention at this event in the final round when he was 17. Now he's all of 21 and as we mentioned, his record in Texas is pretty good. We'll use him hear and save his final start of this segment for the U.S. Open.

Jimmy Walker: A Texan by residence and a long hitter, Walker has been mired in a slump since injuring his left wrist at the Masters. It can't be much of a concern with him playing back-to-back weeks, though, and with his recent struggles, this is the rare time you can pick the second-ranked player in the FedEx Cup standings as somewhat of a sleeper.

The Grind: Bubba goes in the dunk tank and Keegan/Jillian go out in NYC

Jason Day: The Aussie has been relatively quiet since his hot start to the season, but he should get back on track at the Byron Nelson. Day won his first PGA Tour event here in 2010 and has two other top 10s at Las Colinas in his three starts since.

UPDATE: Day, along with several other players including Ian Poulter have withdrawn. We'll replace him with arguably the longest hitter in golf, Dustin Johnson.

Marc Leishman: Another long-hitter, the Aussie has finished in the top 12 in five of his six trips to Dallas, including T-3s in two of his past three starts. Since returning to action about a month ago after his wife's health scare, Leishman has finished no worse than T-28 in four events. Oh yeah, and he seems to enjoy himself in the rain.

Bench: Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas.

And for those of you playing other fantasy golf formats:

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Yahoo! lineup: Palmer, Day, Spieth, Hoffman.
Bench/backups: Koepka, Leishman, Walker, Thomas.

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Leishman.

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Trending

Greg Norman has life figured out, and he has the Instagram account to prove it

Look, not everything's perfect for Greg Norman. He lost those Masters. He's been through a couple of divorces. And he nearly accidentally cut off his hand last year. 

But in case you were wondering whether the Aussie has any time for fun, we again refer you to his fascinating Instagram account, which could double as a travel site for the rugged AARP set.

For instance, here's Greg fishing.

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 And here's Greg fishing some more.

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Here's Greg walking his dogs on the beach, which is probably as good a time as any to remind you that Norman is 60 years old.

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Here's one of several pictures Norman has posted aboard his private jet. The guy's a sucker for a well-constructed wing.

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Here's that time Norman wrestled a sea monster to its demise (or something like that).

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Once in a while Norman even manages to play some golf. Remember he'll be the lead analyst for Fox at this year's U.S. Open, so he's had to bone up on Chambers Bay.

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And in the event 18 holes doesn't get his heart rate up enough, he's happy to slug it out on the tennis court.

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The man is so virile, he feels compelled to give his blood some of the spotlight as well (This was from a recent blood test).

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If they could bottle that stuff and sell it, they should.


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