Notes US Fights Emotions Annika Anxious

By Associated PressSeptember 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- It was an emotional first day for the Americans at the Solheim Cup.
 
U.S. team captain Nancy Lopez was greeted at the first tee with a rousing ovation. Then came the expected support -- fans chanting players' names, singing songs and waving flags. On the course, national flags were draped over ropes and some groups continued chanting at their favorite players.
 
And when the matches turned on the final few holes in the morning, players could sense the momentum shift -- even from the crowd.
 
But after the first day, some of America's first-time team members were still talking about their experience at the first hole.
 
``I wanted to bawl my eyes out. I was terrified,'' Christina Kim said. ``I felt like I had no idea what I was getting myself into.''
 
Kim was fortunate. Her playing partner was veteran Pat Hurst, and the team settled down quickly.
 
Other youngsters weren't so lucky.
 
Natalie Gulbis and Cristie Kerr, the top qualifier for the U.S., were a little off until the final holes of the morning round. Paula Creamer, the first LPGA Tour rookie to make the American team, acknowledged she was anxious to get started -- and it took a few holes for the United States to get in sync.
 
Even Lopez detected the difference.
 
``Paula was a little nervous when I saw her on the first hole, and I told her you'll be fine after the first hole,'' Lopez said. ``I think Natalie was a little nervous. Christina, I didn't think it really fazed her.''
 
The Europeans, though, remained composed.
 
As usual, England's Laura Davies seemed to enjoy herself and kept her two teammates, Maria Hjorth of Sweden and Suzann Pettersen of Norway, relaxed, too.
 
And, of course, it's always comforting to know you can rely on Annika Sorenstam, another Swede. Veterans like Davies and Sorenstam, the two winningest players in Solheim Cup history, are accustomed to the emotions of Day 1. Each has won a record 18 matches in this event.
 
The same was not true for the young Americans.
 
``This is a totally different type of golf,'' Kim said. ``It's like the Super Bowl, is the way I put it. You have the same people who come out to the regular LPGA events, but they're on something. They're loving everything.''
 
ANXIOUS ANNIKA:
Annika Sorenstam expects to play in every round of this weekend's event. And why not? She's dominated the LPGA Tour the past few years and has never missed a Solheim match.
 
But she was having some doubts about Saturday's schedule after an uncharacteristic front nine Friday morning.
 
Sorenstam and Pettersen were 3-down after eight holes and 3-down after 12. So, Sorenstam decided she had to do something if she wanted to keep playing. A near ace on No. 13 seemed to do the trick, jump-starting the European rally.
 
``I've got to prove to Catrin (Nilsmark) that I'm playing well, so maybe she'll put me out there in the afternoon,'' Sorenstam said, drawing laughter from the media contingent. ``I was a little worried after the front nine this morning. I thought I might be sleeping late tomorrow morning.''
 
DIFFERENT STRATEGY:
While Nancy Lopez was eager to get her rookies on the course and over those first, nervous moments, European captain Catrin Nilsmark played it safe.
 
She kept two of her rookies -- French players Gwladys Nocera and Ludivine Kreutz -- out of action Friday.
 
Nilsmark took a similar tack two years ago in Sweden, when she led the Europeans to a 17 1/2 -10 1/2 rout of the Americans. Then, she benched Ana B. Sanchez and Mhairi McKay on the first day.
 
But she'll have to wait until Saturday to see how her strategy works this time.
 
In 1994, tournament officials instituted a rule requiring team captains to use all 12 players before Sunday's singles matches. So, Nilsmark paired Nocera and Kreutz in Saturday's first match against two American rookies -- Gulbis and Kim.
 
Nilsmark believes that Day 2 is easier for the rookies.
 
``I think they're definitely a great foursome, but I didn't want to play them today because of the pressure today,'' Nilsmark said. ``I think they're ready to go tomorrow.''
 
MORE STRUGGLES:
A first-day deficit is nothing knew for the Americans, who have never lost a match on home soil.
 
The U.S. team is typically struggle in the alternate-shot format. In 57 matches over the nine tournaments, the U.S. team is 22-27-8 -- its worst record in the three scoring formats. The Americans are 25-25-5 in best-ball, after splitting Friday's four matches, and have dominated singles play with a mark of 48-33-7.
 
But for the second straight time in Solheim matches, the U.S. team failed to win an alternate-shot match on the first day, salvaging one point with two halves. That was far less than expected after taking big leads in three matches heading to the 12th hole.
 
``We had them right where we wanted and the momentum just changed,'' said Kim, who halved her match with partner Beth Daniel. ``But it wasn't one of those things where you wanted to crawl into a hole and die.''
 
FINGER FIX:
Before choosing her team, U.S. captain Nancy Lopez spoke about the importance of having veteran leadership. Her move to keep Juli Inkster out of the morning pairings raised some questions.
 
On Friday, Lopez explained the reason.
 
Inkster had an infection cut out of her right index finger Thursday, an injury she said did not bother her play Friday afternoon in a 2 and 1 loss to Laura Davies and Suzann Pettersen.
 
Inkster is scheduled to play with Creamer on Saturday morning against Davies and Maria Hjorth.
 
Related Links:
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.