Its Solheim Time - Nuff Said

By George WhiteSeptember 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
You want a little controversy? You got it, and believe me, it wasnt provoked by the media. You want patriotism? Got that, too, and its on both sides of the Atlantic. You want the best woman player, maybe in all of history? Yep, she will be there. And you want a legend to be coaching one of the teams? Yes, you have a legend.
 
The Solheim Cup is all of this. Paula Creamer is the controversy, saying absolutely that the U.S. will win. Patriotism was rampant at the news conference last week with Go USA! reverberating throughout the American squad. Of course, the Americans will be contesting a team of Europeans led by possibly the greatest womens player in history, Annika Sorenstam. And a legend steps up to lead the U.S. team ' Nancy Lopez.
 
They settle the score this weekend at Crooked Stick near Indianapolis. You cant say it is a match of the greatest womens players in the world because, like the mens Ryder Cup, no Koreans are present, no Australians, no Japanese or Canadians or South Africans. But it is what it is, two teams of very good players, with several little intriguing twists at play.
 
First, of course, is Creamers declaration that the U.S. is going to win: They (the European team) better get ready, because they are going to get beat. Paula is only 19, a rookie, not yet experienced enough to guard her sentiments. But I kind of like what she said ' and I would feel the same way if Annika or Laura Davies said it about Europe.
 
Creamer, you see, isnt anti-Annika or anti-Europe or anti-anything. Deep down, she probably isnt nearly so certain of a U.S. victory. But she is trying valiantly to be positive about her team, and I find that admirable. Lopez refused the opportunity to downplay Paulas unbridled optimism ' She's awesome, she's pumped up. I love it. We want that. You did good, Paula!
 
And even Davies appreciated Creamers sassy verve. `I like what she said. She's a rookie. She's in that press conference with Nancy Lopez and Beth Daniel. She's a top quality player and she'll only get better. Why shouldn't she be confident? That's good,' said Davies appreciatively.
 
Sorenstam is bound to score beaucoup points for the Europeans. She has a 16-8 record covering the six Solheims in which she has played, but, like Tiger Woods, she has had troubles in the singles. She has won only three while losing to Tammie Green and Juli Inkster and being halved by Wendy Ward.
 
That should make the Americans concerned, however, when they see her in a team event ' especially alternate shot (foursomes). She is nearly unbeatable in that one, owning a 9-1-1 record. Her only loss came in 1998 to Dottie Pepper and Brandie Burton when she played with Catrin Nilsmark.
 
I love the Solheim Cup, said Annika. I do for the reason that it's a team event and we don't play a lot of team events throughout the year. It's a great honor to be selected and kind of represent your country. You know, I represent Europe. And once we do get together, it's a lot of fun.
 
She hasnt commented directly on Creamers remarks, though its a well-known fact that these sort of things quietly simmer inside her. She deeply resented some of the out-and-out patriotic actions of Pepper, for example, and it was Sorenstam who had to replay a holed chip shot in 2000 when it was determined that she played out of turn.
 
And then there is Lopez. Nancy played in only one Solheim, the first one in 1990. She was well into her role of being a mother by then, and though she tried very hard to make the team two other times, U.S. captains didnt select her.
 
Lopez, who had to make similar selections this time when she picked Ward and Beth Daniel for the wild cards and overlooked several deserving players, says she understood. But there can be no mistaking that each time she was considered and rejected, it was painful to her.
 
I know how they feel, Nancy said of those who werent picked, because there were a couple of times I wasn't chosen for two Solheim Cups. And it's heart-breaking because you know how hard you work and you feel like you deserve to be on the team.
 
As usual, the Euros arrive with several team members who arent widely known. Ludivine Kreutz and her French compatriot, Gwladys Nocera, are two who made the team via points on the Ladies European Tour but have rarely competed elsewhere, at least as professionals. And it might be noteworthy that Europe has never won on American soil.
 
But, the Americans misfortunes in the recent Ryder Cups speak volumes about reputations and what that means when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of playing the matches. There is no question that the U.S. has the better singles players. But is the U.S. the best team?
 
Englishwoman Trish Johnson says it just isn't natural for the U.S. side to really be teammates. 'The American team, in all honesty - they try to beat each other every single week of the year apart from once every two years, when all of a sudden they're supposed to be best mates. That's really difficult,' she said.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But one thing is definite here ' this one is big. It may not be a meeting of the worlds best players, but it is surely the worlds best competition.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Getty Images

    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.