Slumping Creamer in doubt as Solheim pick

By Randall MellAugust 22, 2015, 4:01 am

Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie both missed the cut Friday at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, but they seemed headed in different directions with the Solheim Cup a month away.

Creamer won’t qualify for the American team, and her stunning collapse in the second round throws into question her candidacy as a captain’s pick. Creamer shot 81 at Vancouver Golf Club to miss her third consecutive cut.

While Wie struggled Friday shooting 75, she appeared to play pain free, with no limp or noticeable signs her injured left hip, knee and ankle were still a problem. Wie has secured a spot on the team with Sunday’s conclusion of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open marking the end of qualifying. She’s fourth on the U.S. points list. The only question heading to Canada was whether Wie was going to be healthy enough to play next month in Germany.

“Even though she’s playing poorly, it doesn’t look like it’s because of the ankle,” Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin said.

U.S. captain Juli Inkster said at week’s start that she would be in close contact with Wie and asked only that Wie be candid on how she’s feeling. Really, though, there’s no compelling reason for Wie to pull out of the Solheim Cup at this point. She has three weeks to continue to heal and knock some rust off before playing the Evian Championship the week before the Solheim Cup. Inkster has until the start of the Solheim Cup’s opening ceremony at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club to make a change because of injury. If Wie determines before then that she can’t play, Inkster will be allowed to choose a replacement.

The idea a Solheim Cup will be staged without Creamer, a stalwart in earlier American dominance of the event, would have seemed hard to fathom even a month ago, but the shaky state of her game and confidence puts Inkster in a difficult spot. Creamer, 29, has a 12-6-5 record in five Solheim Cups.

“It would be hard to leave Paula off the team, but I need my best players,” Inkster said at week’s start. “We’ve lost the last two times, and I really want to turn that around.”

Inkster and Creamer share a strong Solheim Cup bond. They were a formidable duo early in Creamer’s career. They were 3-2-1 as partners. The decision whether to include Creamer on this year’s team can’t be an easy one for Inkster.

Creamer, Brittany Lang and Jessica Korda are all Solheim Cup veterans who sit outside the qualifying criteria. Korda’s the only one of the three to make the cut in Canada, and she just made it on the number. Korda entered this week having battled an elbow injury this summer. She made the cut in just one of her previous six starts. Lang played some solid golf this summer before missing Friday’s cut.

The weekend looks like it’s going to be all about the captain’s picks now.

Gerina Piller and Alison Lee put themselves in good positions to hold down the final spots on the American Solheim Cup points list and the world rankings list. Piller, who holds the eighth and final qualifying spot on the points list, shot 70 Friday and sits tied for 15th in the Canadian Open. Lee, who holds the second and final spot on the world rankings list, shot 70 and sits tied for eighth.

Inkster said at week’s start that Creamer, Korda, Lang, Mo Martin, Austin Ernst and Christina Kim were on her radar as players on the bubble. Martin and Ernst both made the cut in Canada and are making strong showings for a second consecutive week. They both tied for fifth in Portland last week. Kim also made the cut Friday. Inkster’s captain’s picks will almost certainly come from that group, barring an unforeseen change in the points races.

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Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."