Lopez Diverse in Day 1 Pairings

By Associated PressSeptember 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- U.S. captain Nancy Lopez gathered her potential Solheim Cup players for a practice session last month. She welcomed them to Crooked Stick, talked about American pride and winning back the cup.
 
And then her eyes welled with tears.
 
``She cried five times that day,'' Laura Diaz said. ``We started counting.''
 
By now, it has become a running joke.
 
During the gala dinner Wednesday night at an Indianapolis hotel, Lopez took to the stage shortly before 10 p.m. Within five minutes, her voice cracked and her lips quivered. When the wife of the late Karsten Solheim gave Lopez and European captain Catrin Nilsmark necklaces, Lopez was bawling.
 
'What are we on ... 11 now?'' Rosie Jones said when asked how many times her captain had lost it this week.
 
Then it was time for Lopez's press conference. First came an opening statement, and she talked about what an honor it has been to be the captain. Then, the moderator opened the floor to questions.
 
``I'll try not to cry,'' Lopez said, flashing that infectious smile.
 
But while the players joke about her ability to cry watching reruns of ``Little House on the Prairie,'' Lopez has accomplished what she set out to do.
 
This group of Americans has never felt more like a team.
 
``Nancy has been fantastic,'' said Beth Daniel, who competed against Lopez throughout her career. ``This may be the most fun I've had on a Solheim Cup team, the way she has bonded this team.''
 
When the matches start Friday, Lopez will find out if it pays off.
 
The ninth Solheim Cup begins with four alternate-shot matches, and Lopez already has shown equal treatment to her 12 players by sending out all three rookies Friday morning.
 
Leading off for the Americans is 19-year-old Paula Creamer and the 48-year-old Daniel, the youngest and oldest players in Solheim Cup history. They will face Carin Koch and Catriona Matthew.
 
Lopez put 22-year-old rookie Natalie Gulbis with Cristie Kerr, and 21-year-old Christina Kim with Pat Hurst. Among those who will be on the bench Friday morning are Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon and Jones, who have combined to play in the Solheim Cup 18 times.
 
Diaz, who is five months pregnant, and Michele Redman will play in the final match against the European juggernaut of Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen, who won together twice in Sweden last time.
 
``I've got three young players that I might have to ride hard this weekend, so why not start them in the first matches?'' she said. ``Get them warmed up, get them calm. The more I put them out there, the better they will be.''
 
Lopez has invested extraordinary amounts of time and creativity with her team. She has had dinner with anyone who had a chance to make the team, even Creamer in the early summer she was still outside the top 10 in the standings.
 
And it really picked up steam two weeks ago after the U.S. team was set. Lopez joined them in Columbus, Ohio, for the announcement, then drove with them to Crooked Stick in a chartered motor home.
 
They cracked jokes at each's expense, sang and took pictures. Lopez undoubtedly shed a tear or two.
 
``Everyone was dancing and telling jokes, and plenty of things that need to stay in that motor home,'' Creamer said.
 
When the players arrived earlier this week at the team hotel, they found red, white and blue balloons in their rooms, gifts, inspirational books and handwritten notes from Lopez.
 
``Pretty unbelievable,'' Kerr said. ``She's a special lady. Forget what she's done on a golf course. I don't think you will meet a better person. She's been all about us. We have been all about each other and team. The bond that this team has molded ... there's a lot of good thoughts, a lot of goodwill, a lot of good energy.''
 
It is difficult to forget what Lopez did on the golf course.
 
She gave the LPGA Tour its first jolt of attention in 1978 as a 21-year-old rookie with a smile that attracted thousands of fans. The gallery and media attention grew as she won five straight tournaments, and finished the year with nine victories. She ended her career with 48 victories, three majors and a spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame.
 
The Solheim Cup began in 1990, so Lopez only played in the first one, going 2-1-0.
 
She is having much more fun as a captain.
 
``I've always liked doing parties for my kids,'' said Lopez, who has three daughters. ``I think I'm a good planner.''
 
She has talked to previous Solheim Cup captains, but was motivated more by watching the Ryder Cup last September, when the U.S. men seemed to be disjointed in getting walloped by Europe.
 
``That was my goal two years ago was to make sure that my team felt like one,'' she said. ``I watched the Ryder Cup, and it was sad because I didn't see that.''
 
But for all the good times, she has not lost sight of the cup.
 
The United States leads the series, 5-3, and has never lost at home. Europe is gaining, coming close to winning three years ago in Minnesota, fully confident that their big hitters can carry them to victory at Crooked Stick.
 
``That's what we've been working for, to win,'' Lopez said. ``It will be very disappointing if we don't.''
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

     

     

    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.