Creamer, Pressel not on list for Inkster's Solheim gathering

By Randall MellApril 18, 2017, 9:46 pm

Captain Juli Inkster will get an early glimpse of what could be a different looking U.S. Solheim Cup team when she leads prospective members in their first official team gathering this weekend in Houston.

The big surprises?

Veterans Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel aren’t among the invitees.

Inkster invited 16 players to the first team gathering at Bluejack National Saturday and Sunday, a group that includes the top 14 in U.S. Solheim Cup points, based on the standings at the conclusion of the ANA Inspiration.

Inkster also invited rookie Nelly Korda and veteran Beth Allen.

The LPGA’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout is in Irving, Texas, next week.

“We could have a little bit different team this year,” Inkster told “We could have some rookies, and I want to try to get them ready to go. I wanted to bring us together and go over what we’re working on.”

The Solheim Cup is just four months away, with the Americans scheduled to meet Europe Aug. 18-20 at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa. There are still 14 qualifying events, three of them major championships with double points, before the American team is finalized at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open two weeks before the Solheim Cup.

“We still have a ton of tournaments,” Inkster said. “There is going to be a lot of shifting in points. You can’t really predict who is going to be on the team. I just wanted a wide variety of people there. So, that’s kind of the way it worked out.”

If the team were finalized today, there would be intense competition for Inkster’s two captain’s picks. Creamer, Pressel, Angela Stanford, Michelle Wie, Lizette Salas and Christina Kim are among Solheim Cup veterans who would require a pick.

Creamer is currently 21st in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings, Pressel is 22nd. The top eight in the standings after the Ricoh Women’s British Open will make the team, as will the top two Americans in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who aren’t already qualified on points.

Creamer has played in the last six Solheim Cups and has a 14-8-5 record. Pressel has played in the last five Solheim Cups and has a 10-7-2 record.

“It’s no secret, Paula and Morgan are on the outside right now,” Inkster said. “They’ve been mainstays on the Solheim Cup team, very good mainstays. The problem is it’s so hard just to play golf and not worry about points, but I know they are trying.

“For the team, I have to take the 12 best players.”

Inkster said Creamer and Pressel have plenty of time to earn their way.

“They don’t really need to make the team [on points],” Inkster said. “I just need to see them playing some good golf. It depends on how many rookies I have. Or, if we have a veteran team, can I bring some rookies on? So, it’s really how the team shakes out. Believe me, I know where Morgan and Paula are, and they know where they are.”

Inkster said the weekend at Bluejack will be focused on team bonding.

“It’s not really about golf, it’s more about being together,” Inkster said. “We are going to do some fishing and a couple other activities. We are going to play some golf, very minimal golf. It’s not like it is a golf-specific outing. We are going to have a couple dinners and just kind of hang out and be together.”

If the team were finalized today, Austin Ernst and Mo Martin would make the American team for the first time.

U.S. points standings

1 Lexi Thompson, 484.5

2 Stacy Lewis, 370

3 Gerina Piller, 313

4 Cristie Kerr, 283

5 Jessica Korda, 246.5

6 Brittany Lang, 220

7 Austin Ernst, 210.5

8 Brittany Lincicome, 177

9 Angela Stanford, 163

10 Mo Martin, 155.5

11 Danielle Kang, 145.5

12 Alison Lee, 124

13 Lizette Salas, 117.5

14 Michelle Wie, 115

15 Kim Kaufman, 97

NOTE:Points are awarded to top 20 finishers in LPGA events, with first place earning 60 points, second place getting 30, third place taking 28.5 and on down to three points for 20th place. Points are doubled in the major championships.

U.S. world rankings standings

1 Mo Martin (No. 32)

2 Alison Lee (No. 38)

3 Danielle Kang (No. 55)

4 Lizette Salas (No. 56)

5 Angela Stanford (No. 58)

6 Beth Allen (No. 59)

7 Jennifer Song (No. 69)

8 Michelle Wie (No. 74)

9 Morgan Pressel (No. 76)

10 Megan Khang (No. 79)


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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.