Four-year wait worth it for Christina Kim

By Associated PressAugust 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Christina Kims victory was four years in the making.
The personable and outgoing ' some might call her loud ' American teamed with Natalie Gulbis to beat European heavyweights Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson 4-and-2 Friday afternoon. Not only did they give the U.S. team a critical point, they ended Gustafsons undefeated streak in foursomes.
Gustafson had been 4-0-4.
It was pretty darn special out there, Kim said. I had a wonderful time, and I had some great memories, having played with Natalie, both of us in our first Solheim together, and I couldnt have asked for a better partner. The energy out there was palpable. It was truly incredible.
Kim made an impressive debut at the 2005 Solheim Cup, going 2-1-1, including a foursomes win with Gulbis. But she didnt qualify for the 2007 squad and was passed over by U.S. captain Betsy King ' deservedly, Kim said.
The disappointment has driven her these last two years, and Kim made every second of her day Friday count. She was one of the first Americans out on the first tee in the morning, revving up the crowd before the fourball matches went off. She played cheerleader, too, riding a cart around the course to root on the Americans.
But nothing could match her enthusiasm during her match with Gulbis.
The two got off to a fast start with birdies on the first two holes, and made the turn 3-up. When she needed to make a 10-footer to halve the 13th hole, she never faltered and was already holding her putter up in triumph before the ball found the hole. As the crowd roared, Kim nodded her head and said, Thats right.
When Gulbis got in trouble off the tee on 16, Kim bailed them out with a nice chip onto the green. The Europeans then conceded.
I was chomping at the bit since 8:05 this morning sending off the groups, and Ive still got a little bit of voice left in me for tomorrow, Kim said. Going to save up.
SHES BAAAACK!: It might be a few years before Helen Alfredsson is considered for European captain again.
Shes playing too well for the Europeans to lose her.
Alfredsson scored her first Solheim Cup points since 2002 on Friday, making a clutch putt on 18 to give her and rookie Tania Elosegui a 1-up fourball victory over Juli Inkster and Angela Stanford. It was the only match Europe won in the morning.
I feel great that we walked away with a win, Alfredsson said.
Alfredsson served as Europes captain two years, her playing career sidetracked by back and hamstring injuries. But the 44-year-old is healthy again, and is playing her best golf in years. She won the Evian Masters last year for a third time, and was runner-up at the U.S. Womens Open.
This year, shes got two top-10 finishes, including a tie for fifth at Evian.
And she gave Europe a huge early boost.
The Americans had already won two matches and were leading in a third by the time Alfredsson and Elosegui got to 18 with a 1-up lead. Alfredssons second shot landed in the rough on the side of the green, and her chip shot ran to the bottom of the green. But she rolled her birdie putt in, yelling and giving an emphatic fist pump as the ball dropped into the cup.
I knew we had to make birdie to win it, Alfredsson said. It was a tough shot. But it was nice: I walked up to the putt and saw the line, and thats what I want.
The points were Alfredssons first since she and Suzann Pettersen won their first foursomes match in 2002.
A QUIET GALLERY?:Other players couldnt get over the crowds energy. Cristie Kerr expected more.
The crowds out here, I think they need to get a whole lot louder, she said after teaming with Paula Creamer to beat Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson 1-up in the morning.
Fans cheered just about every big shot and chanted U-S-A! USA! They waved flags and wore shirts and jackets with the red, white and blue, but Kerr was expecting more noise. At 6,670 yards, Rich Harvest Farms is the longest course in Solheim Cup history, so that might have toned down the volume. There was also a big traffic jam from the highway to the course early in the morning.
Maybe its all the open spaces, but I think theyll get a little more fired up as the week goes on, Kerr said.
NO SHORTCUT: Laura Davies had the right idea.
In a deep hole to Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang in the morning fourballs, Davies tried to take a shortcut on the 12th hole. The dogleg on the 342-yard par-4 is so sharp its practically a right angle, so the big hitter decided to go for the green off the tee ' never mind that cluster of towering trees in her way.
After waiting for the group in front to clear the green, Davies launched a booming shot. It cleared the trees, but landed well short of the green in a patch of weeds and leaves. No matter. Playing partner Becky Brewerton put her approach shot 5 feet above the hole, then knocked it in for a birdie to win the hole.
That was one of the lone highlights of the match for the Europeans. They took just two holes ' Brewerton won both of them ' and lost 5-and-4 to the Americans.
Obviously disappointed. Ive let Becky down today, Davies said. I didnt hit enough fairways really. I hit two really poor tee shots, and apart from that, the good ones were going in the rough. You cant play this golf course in the rough, and she had no backup.
DIVOTS: Soccer great Mia Hamm was among the spectators. None of the afternoon matches went to the 18th hole. All 12 Americans played Friday while rookie Diana Luna was the only European who didnt get in a match.
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    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

    Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

    That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

    In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

    Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

    Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

    In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

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    DJ on reaching No. 1: 'It's been a long journey'

    View from the top: How long will DJ stay at No. 1?

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    DJ on beating Rahm: 'I didn't give him anything'

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    Article: Johnson installed as Masters betting favorite

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