Sorenstams Squad Falls Short in Lexus Cup
Ahead 7-5 after winning four of the six best-ball matches Saturday, Asia took 5 1/2 of 12 points Sunday in singles play on Tanah Merah's Garden Course. Last year, the International team won the inaugural event 16-8.
The 20-year-old Lee, the ShopRite LPGA Classic winner in June, took a 2-up lead with a birdie on 16, hitting a 90-yard shot within inches, then matched Granada's par on 17 to end the event. Granada conceded after Lee hit her 30-foot birdie putt close.
'It was a very difficult putt. There were a lot of people watching me,' Lee said through a translator. 'I didn't want to make a mistake.'
One of nine South Korean players in Asia's lineup, Lee won all three of her matches in the LPGA Tour-sanctioned event.
'I'm so happy. Seon Hwa, what a finish!' said playing captain Grace Park, another South Korean. 'I was shaking so much. I've never been so nervous.'
South Korea's Young Kim, Jee Young Lee and Hee-Won Han and Japan's Sakura Yokomine also won in the closing session that was delayed twice because of lightning.
'I'm obviously very excited and very happy for my team and for Asia,' Park said. 'I'm just in awe. ... We wanted to get revenge and we wanted the Cup. Everybody came to this event thinking we were going to win and we did it.'
South Korea's Meena Lee also earned a crucial half-point against Angela Stanford.
'Look at the play of the Korean players on the LPGA. They're playing very, very well,' Sorenstam said. 'This year, they might have had little bit of a different attitude, I think, in the competition than last year. They came out very, very strong. At the end of the first day, it was 3-3.'
Kim beat Carin Koch 3 and 2 to finish 3-0. Jee Young Lee routed Morgan Pressel 5 and 4, Han edged Nikki Campbell 3 and 2, and Yokomine beat Laura Davies 4 and 3.
'I played very well, but I was a little bit nervous,' Jee Young Lee said through a translator. 'You can lose one hole, but make it up on another hole. Even if you make a mistake, the other player can make a worse mistake and you can still win the hole.'
Sorenstam won the opening match, beating fellow captain Park 4 and 3 to finish the three-day competition 3-0.
'It came down to the last few matches and pretty much one match to turn it all around,' Sorenstam said. 'It was very exciting. ... I'm very proud of the team. It's been a great week.'
If Granada had rallied to halve with Lee and square the matches at 12 points, the top-ranked Sorenstam would have faced the 99th-ranked Park in a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner.
'I enjoy playing Grace,' Sorenstam said. 'She's a great player and also a great person. It was fun to go out with her first and kind of set the pace as well. I think conditions were quite tough today, with all the rain, but she fought really hard.'
Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Sherri Steinhauer and Stacy Prammanasudh also earned full points for the International team.
Gulbis routed Joo Mi Kim 5 and 4, Creamer won the 18th to edge Candie Kung 1-up, Lincicome beat Se Ri Pak 4 and 2, Steinhauer defeated Jennifer Rosales 4 and 3, and Prammanasudh topped Shi Hyun Ahn 4 and 3.
Creamer won when Kung missed a 7-foot par putt on 18.
'It was a roller-coaster ride out there,' Creamer said. 'It was unfortunate she missed that putt. ... I'm glad I won.'
The lightning stopped play for about an hour early in the matches, then forced a two-hour delay as the last matches were just getting started.
'You don't think it's hard, but I only played 2 1/2 holes,' Gulbis said. 'I had to take a little bit of extra club because I hadn't warmed up. And I felt a little bit off on a couple of the putts. What I need to do in those couple of hours is grab something to eat, spend some time getting stretched out, and go over the pin sheet.'
Yokomine was Asia's lone Japanese player.
'In the beginning, I felt lonely as I can't speak English or Korean, but the team members are so kind and I really appreciated that,' she said through as translator. 'I tried to communicate with gestures and I hoped that everyone could understand me. After three days I felt that I was a true member of the team.'
The Asian players earned $50,000 each, while the losers got $30,000.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.