Notes Victory May Signal Change Pregnant Pair

By Associated PressSeptember 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- Juli Inkster, Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon and Michele Redman walked up the 18th fairway Sunday savoring the precious moments they had left with teammate Rosie Jones.
 
Jones, 45, has been a staple of women's golf for nearly two decades and has already acknowledged this would be her last Solheim Cup. Some of Jones' 40-something teammates may join her on the sideline when the 2007 event returns to Sweden.
 
Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon
This could possibly be the last Solheim Cup for LPGA legends Beth Daniel and Meg Mallon.
``I would say this is probably my last Solheim Cup, being that I'm almost 49,'' said Daniel, an eight-time U.S. team member. ``I think it's going to be pretty hard for me to make it at 50.''

The futures of the others are uncertain.
 
Redman, 40, has been on the last four cup teams and scored a major victory Saturday in the final alternate-shot match that gave the U.S. a 6-6 tie at the midway point. But she hasn't won a tour title since 2000.
 
Inkster, 45, is a Hall of Famer with little left to prove and has four wins since 2000 but none in the past two years.
 
Mallon, too, has been a regular in the international competition, playing on eight teams. She has sunk two championship-clinching putts, including Sunday's, and lost one match that clinched a European victory.
 
But how much longer can the old-timers stay competitive with America's young stars, who blossomed this weekend?
 
``They are the future of the LPGA Tour,'' captain Nancy Lopez said shortly after clinching Sunday's victory.
 
One 40-something who didn't mince words about her future was England's Laura Davies.
 
``I think I'm playing well, and I think I can score enough points,'' said the big hitting 41-year-old. ``If I don't, I'll have to beg the captain for a pick. I'm not above begging, you know.''
 
HOME, SWEET, HOME:
The Americans credited the large galleries and boisterous fans for helping them bring back the cup Sunday.
 
Over the three-day event, fans chanted and roared when players urged them to get louder. On Sunday, they didn't need much help. Around the course, the songs and chants that started at the first tee followed the players to the holes they played.
 
It was the kind of home-course advantage the Europeans expected and the Americans wanted. Europe has never won on American soil.
 
``I think we all knew that was going to be the case coming in,'' Annika Sorenstam said. ``That's what makes this so great.''
 
But what got the fans really involved was the cheerleading. When Christina Kim finished her match she led the fans in chants of ``U-S-A!'' and ``Red, white, blue!'' and even got the crowd to start chanting players' names as they walked the fairway.
 
Kim also carried an American flag on the final few holes.
 
``I told the girls I've won the majors, I have been inducted in the Hall of Fame, but this was the most fun week I have ever had,'' American assistant captain Donna Caponi said.
 

PREGNANT PAIR:
The day's fourth pairing, Laura Diaz against Denmark's Iben Tinning, was believed to be the first Solheim Cup match between two expectant mothers.
 
Diaz, 30, is five months pregnant and Nancy Lopez took some precautions to prevent health problems. She limited Diaz to just one match a day, in the morning when the weather was cooler.
 
European captain Catrin Nilsmark also was worried about Tinning, who played in the afternoon Friday and Saturday so she could rest.
 
But the maternity match proved one-sided. Diaz won 6-and-5.
 
``I never had any problems with the heat,'' Diaz said. ``My baby was giving me the thumbs up all day.''
 

THE WINNER:
Sweden's Annika Sorenstam may not have played her typical game this weekend. She drove a tee shot into the water Saturday, had to hit from behind a tree Sunday and occasionally found herself in sand and rough.
 
But she still delivered the usual results.
 
Sorenstam went 4-1 over the three days and even gave the Europeans hope when things looked bleak Sunday after a poor start. By scoring four points, the world's best woman golfer was also the week's biggest individual winner, and her 20th victory in this event broke the tie she shared with Laura Davies.
 
It wasn't enough to satisfy Sorenstam's competitive spirit.
 
``I'm just looking forward to two years,'' she said. ``We're going to get the cup back, that's all I can say.''
 

THE LOSER:
Wendy Ward was the only American player who failed to win a point this weekend, the second straight time she's gone winless.
 
Ward lost all three of her matches at Crooked Stick, leaving her with seven straight Solheim Cup losses dating to 2003. She was 0-4 in Sweden and is now 2-9-1 all-time in three cup appearances. But she has been on two winning teams.
 

NEW DIRECTION:
When Norway's Suzann Pettersen conceded on the 18th for a halve, it was the start of a new direction for American women's golf.
 
LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Voltaw had already announced he would retire after the Solheim Cup ended. Carolyn Bivens now becomes the seventh commissioner in tour history -- and the first woman to hold the post -- after Voltaw's 6 1/2 -year reign.
 
DIVOTS:
The American team celebrated three times, the last by the crowd in a rendition of ``God Bless America.'' ... America's three-point victory tied the Solheim Cup record for smallest victory margin. The Europeans won 14 1/2 to 11 1/2 in 2000 and the U.S. won 15 1/2 to 12 1/2 in 2002. ... Only once in cup history has the visiting team won. The Americans won 17-11 in Wales in 1996.
 
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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.”


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    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.


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    “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