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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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.