Notes Lopez Gets Husbandly Advice

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- U.S. captain Nancy Lopez has never been too involved with statistics, although she sure talks a good game when it comes to who has the best alternate-shot record or tends to keep tee shots in the fairway.
The person responsible for those numbers? A baseball guy, of course.
Lopez is married to Ray Knight, the '86 World Series MVP when he played for the New York Mets. Knight later managed the Cincinnati Reds.
``First of all, he said, 'You've got to put the top two or three hitters up, and then you put up the one that's going to hit the home run,''' Lopez said with a laugh.
``He's been a tremendous help. I'm not a stat person; I look at the player. I know when they're playing well or not. He followed every stat probably the last two years and was on the computer every night bringing up this stat or that stat. I'm surprised he didn't tell me how many times they ate during the day.''
Among the items Knight discovered was Europe's advantage in driving distance wasn't as great as Lopez feared.
``He showed me all that, and now I can talk about it and know what I'm talking about,'' Lopez said.
So, who's batting cleanup?
``I'm not telling you,'' she said.
The U.S. team is a diverse group, with five players in their 40s, three in their 20s and 19-year-old Paula Creamer.
Rosie Jones, 45, was reminded of that generation gap Wednesday as she reflected on her career. She joined the LPGA Tour in 1982 and won for the first time in 1987.
``I'm playing with players that weren't even born when I was first walking on the fairways on the LPGA,'' she said. ``And my first Solheim, I think a lot of them were probably 4 or 6 years old.''
Later in the interview, Jones and 42-year-old Meg Mallon were talking about young players being in better shape, and the different swings used today because of equipment.
``She has no idea how far a persimmon wood can go off line,'' Mallon said, motioning at 21-year-old Christina Kim.
``Do you even know what a persimmons looks like,'' Jones asked Kim.
``It's a fruit,'' Kim replied.
Juli Inkster, 45, got in on the act when she told how she sang to Creamer and 22-year-old Natalie Gulbis in the team room Tuesday night. The song was, ``You've Lost That Loving Feeling.''
``They didn't know the song because they weren't born yet,'' 48-year-old Beth Daniel said.
Gwladys Nocera and Lividine Kreutz of France already have enough on their minds by playing in the Solheim Cup for the first time. It didn't help that their clubs didn't show up in Indianapolis when they did.
Both played last week in Denmark, took a British Airways flight to Chicago and then American Airlines to Indianapolis on Monday.
``I know they're great players, and I think they're going to do really good, if they just get their clubs and equipment,'' Carin Koch said. ``It's hard to play with equipment you're not used to.''
Both players had already started their practice rounds Wednesday morning when the clubs arrived.
It helped that Kreutz and Nocera have equipment deals with Ping. The late Karsten Solheim, for whom these matches were named, started Karsten Manufacturing nearly 50 years ago and Ping has a strong presence at Crooked Stick.
They were able to use similar clubs during a practice round Tuesday.
The LPGA Tour already has one tournament in Hawaii. Now it has another.
Commissioner Ty Votaw said Wednesday the Fields Open in Hawaii will be played Feb. 23-25 at Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu, a 54-hole event that will be televised by The Golf Channel in the United States and TV Asahi in Japan. The purse will be $1.1 million.
Ko Olina was home to the Hawaiian Ladies Open from 1990-95.
Catrin Nilsmark returns as European captain after guiding her team to an overwhelming victory two years ago in Sweden. But this has been a far different experience.
For one thing, Nilsmark is on her feet.
She suffered severe back problems in Sweden and had to get around on crutches. She missed some team practices and early matches because she couldn't get out of bed, and often was driven around in a specialized cart that took pressure off her back.
``It was a fake,'' Nilsmark joked. ``Monday morning after the Solheim, I ran off.''
Nilsmark said it took her about two months after the matches to get back on her feet. She also was in the early stages of pregnancy, and gave birth 17 months ago to a boy, Sigge.
Laura Diaz, who is starting her sixth month of pregnancy, says she is capable of playing 36 holes Friday or Saturday, but doubts she will. ``I have a feeling I probably won't go 36, just because my energy level might not be as high as some of the other younger players,'' she said. ... Some of the U.S. players are carrying cameras with them, taking pictures of each other to post on the LPGA Tour's web site. ... Among those in gallery Wednesday was Patty Sheehan, the U.S. captain two years ago in Sweden.
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1