Inkster takes Solheim Cup points leaders to CordeValle

By Randall MellApril 23, 2015, 1:29 am

DALY CITY, Calif. – The stakes are ratcheting up for the American Solheim Cup team.

Captain Juli Inkster invited 16 potential members to join her for their first outing together this week. She took them to CordeValle Golf Club, an hour south of San Francisco, to play and plot some strategy for the Sept. 18-20 matches in Germany.

“With the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle, I thought they might like to go down there and get a head start,” Inkster said. “We had a nice dinner there, made our own pizzas, and then we just kind of hung out. We played some pingpong, had some cocktails.”

If you’re wondering which 16 players Inkster invited, look at the Solheim Cup standings (below). She said she invited the top 16 in points.

“It was the fairest way,” Inkster said.

Assistant captains Pat Hurst and Wendy Ward were also there.

Stacy Lewis, the top American point earner, said the outing set the stage nicely for the five-month run-up to the event.

“It definitely gets it on our minds,” Lewis said. “Juli gave us some things to think about, some things to work on going forward. You can tell she’s excited. It’s going to be here before we know it. That was really the only practice session we will have before that week.”

The Europeans have won the last two Solheim Cups. They thrashed the Americans two years ago at the Colorado Golf Club in a record rout. Inkster believes the Americans have been too tight in recent Solheim Cups.

“I want to get across that we need to play our best golf to beat them, and the last couple years we haven’t done that,” Inkster said. “We just need to get back to playing golf and not worrying about the other stuff.”

Lewis said Inkster wants the Americans to approach the week more like they do a week on tour.

“Her big thing is we’re just going to play golf, because if we play our best golf, we will win,” Lewis said. “That’s what she is trying to get in our heads. She’s asking us a lot of questions, like who we want to play with. She wants us to be comfortable so we can just play our best golf. And she’s been asking what we do in a normal week. She wants to take that to the Solheim Cup.”

 U.S. Solheim Cup Standings

 1 Stacy Lewis, 823.5

2 Lexi Thompson, 495.5

3 Michelle Wie, 430.5.

4 Brittany Lincicome, 355.

5 Cristie Kerr, 337.5.

6 Angela Stanford, 269.5.

7 Jessica Korda, 259.

8 Paula Creamer, 219.

9 Lizette Salas, 216.5.

10 Gerina Piller, 213.5.

11 Morgan Pressel, 206.5.

12 Brittany Lang, 174.

13 Mo Martin, 155.

14 Austin Ernst, 136.

15 Christina Kim, 132.

16 Jennifer Johnson, 88.

* The top eight in points automatically qualify for the 12-woman team. Plus, the top two players from the Rolex Women’s World Rankings not already qualified by points make it. The final two spots on the team are captain’s picks. Points are earned based on top-20 finishes in tournaments. First place is worth 60 points, second is worth 30, third is 28.5 with points awarded down to 3 points for 20th place. Points are double at the majors.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.