2015 European Solheim Cup team capsules

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 14, 2015, 12:00 pm

Here is a breakdown of European captain Carin Koch's 12-player roster for the 14th Solheim Cup, which will be Sept. 18-20 at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Click here for U.S. team capsules. The Europeans are the reigning champion, having won, 18-10, at Colorado Golf Club in 2012.

Carlota CigandaCarlota Ciganda

Age: 25

Record: 4-3-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 54th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/2

The lowdown: Ciganda was a part of Spain’s victorious International Crown team last year. She went undefeated in her first Solheim appearance two years ago and is an impressive 6-1-0 in international team play in the last two years.

Sandra GalSandra Gal

Age: 30

Record: 0-2-1 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 42nd

LPGA/LET victories: 1/0

The lowdown: Gal last won at the 2011 Kia Classic and returns to Team Europe for the first time since that year. The German native will look to improve upon a disappointing start to her Solheim career, after going winless in her lone appearance and losing, 6 and 5, to Brittany Lang in singles.

Caroline Hedwall
Caroline Hedwall

Age: 26

Record: 7-1-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 117th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/5

The lowdown: Hedwall was an undefeated 5-0-0 two years ago, becoming the first woman in Solheim history to win five matches in a single competition. She has taken an impressive 7 ½ out of nine total points available in her two Solheim appearances. 

Charley HullCharley Hull

Age: 19

Record: 2-1-0 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 50th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/1

The lowdown: The 2013 LET Rookie of the Year broke through for her first professional victory at the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup. Hull, then just a 17-year-old captain’s pick, took down U.S. stalwart Paula Creamer, 5 and 4, in 2013, notching the first point for either team during Sunday singles.

Karine IcherKarine Icher

Age: 36

Record: 3-3-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 58th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/5

The lowdown: Icher returned to the Solheim Cup in 2013 for the first time since 2002 and went 2-1-1 in Colorado. She has not won an individual title since 2005.

Caroline MassonCaroline Masson

Age: 26

Record: 2-1-1 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 81st

LPGA/LET victories: 0/1

The lowdown: Masson lost just won match in her Solheim debut in 2013, going down, 4 and 3, to Lexi Thompson in singles. She was part of Caroline Hedwall’s history-making run that year, winning two fourball matches with the Swede.

Catriona MatthewCatriona Matthew

Age: 46

Record: 12-9-8 (8th appearance)

World ranking: 55th

LPGA/LET victories: 4/6 (one major)

The lowdown: The 2009 Women’s British champion and the oldest member of the team, Matthew, somewhat surprisingly given the margin victory, did not win a match in 2013, going 0-2-2. Matthew made her first Solheim appearance in 1998 and has been a part of Team Europe in each edition since 2003.

Azahara MunozAzahara Munoz

Age: 27

Record: 4-3-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 26th

LPGA/LET victories: 1/3

The lowdown: This marks the third straight year Muñoz will represent her country in team play, after winning the Solheim Cup in 2013 and the inaugural International Crown for her native Spain in 2014. Muñoz enjoyed a career year in 2014, winning the Ladies French Open for the second time and recording two major top-10s.

Gwladys Nocera
Gwladys Nocera

Age: 40

Record: 5-3-2 (4th appearance)

World ranking: 64th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/14

The lowdown: A native of France, Nocera is a two-time LET Player of the Year (2006, 2008) who is making her first Solheim appearance since 2009. Nocera did not lose in her last appearance, posting a 3-0-1 record. The lone halve came in a singles match with this year’s U.S. captain, Juli Inkster.

Anna NordqvistAnna Nordqvist

Age: 28

Record: 6-5-1 (4th appearance)

World ranking: 12th

LPGA/LET victories: 5/2 (one major)

The lowdown: The 2009 McDonald’s LPGA champion has three LPGA wins in the last two years, including her most recent victory at the ShopRite in May. Nordqvist, in 2013, recorded the first hole-in-one in Solheim history. Her ace on the 17th green at Colorado Golf Club closed out a Saturday alternate-shot match with partner Caroline Hedwall against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda.

Suzann PettersenSuzann Pettersen

Age: 34

Record: 14-9-6 (8th appearance)

World ranking: 8th

LPGA/LET victories: 15/7 (two majors)

The lowdown: Pettersen, who won six times worldwide in 2013 and then struggled through 2014, has spent the last nine months remodeling her game under the tutelage of Butch Harmon. Their hard work paid off in June, when Pettersen won the Manulife LPGA Classic, ending a 19-month winless drought.

Melissa ReidMelissa Reid

Age: 27

Record: 1-3-0 (2nd appearance)

World ranking: 85th

LPGA/LET victories: 0/5

The lowdown: Reid won the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open for the second time in May, and posted her best finish in a major, a T-9 at the Women’s British, in early August. She returns to the Solheim Cup after losing three matches by just four holes in 2011 and missing out on the festivities in 2013. 

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.