Match recaps: U.S. wins Solheim Cup, 16 1/2 to 11 1/2

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 20, 2017, 9:15 pm

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – The U.S. and Europe split their singles matches on Sunday as the Americans cruised to a 16 ½ to 11 ½ victory in the Solheim Cup. Here's a recap of the matches.

DAY 3

Sunday singles: U.S. 6, Europe 6

Overall: U.S. 16 ½, Europe 11 ½

MATCH 17: Lexi Thompson (U.S.) vs. Anna Nordqvist (Europe), halved: Difficult to find words to describe this match. Thompson was 4 down after four holes (and 4 down after nine) then went 8 under in a 7-hole stretch (Nos. 10-16) to take a 1-up lead. Nordqvist hit it stiff on 18 to win the hole and halve the match.

MATCH 18: Paula Creamer (U.S.) def. Georgia Hall (Europe), 1 up: Overshadowed because of what went on up ahead but this was another well-played match. Only thing that marred it was the way it ended with a Hall miss from 4 feet that would’ve halved the match.

MATCH 19: Cristie Kerr (U.S.) def. Mel Reid (Europe), 2 and 1: Kerr led the entire way but never had more than a 2-up advantage. Ultimately, her putter was just too much for Reid, just as it was for everyone in Kerr’s way all week. She ended with 3-0-1 record.

MATCH 20: Catriona Matthew (Europe) def. Stacy Lewis (U.S.), 1 up: Another incredible match that, unfortunately, will get lost in the shuffle. Matthew was 3 down after 11 and just calmly plodded her way back for the victory. The Suzann Pettersen replacement compiled a remarkable 3-1 record.

MATCH 21: Angel Yin (U.S.) vs. Karine Icher (Europe), halved: This half-point essentially guaranteed that the U.S. would retain the Solheim Cup. Although it was only the 13 ½ point, Salas was 2 up with two holes remaining two matches behind, which would ultimately push the Americans over the edge.

MATCH 22: Caroline Masson (Europe) def. Michelle Wie (U.S.), 4 and 2: Wie was out of sorts from the beginning and Masson took advantage and built a fairly easy 4-up lead after 10 holes. Wie didn’t make enough birdies and Masson cruised.

MATCH 23: Lizette Salas (U.S.) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Europe), 1 up: This victory gave the Americans the Solheim Cup outright and this was another close match from beginning to end. Once Salas was 2 up with two remaining there was no way the U.S. could lose the cup.

MATCH 24: Charley Hull (Europe) def. Brittany Lang (U.S.), 1 up: Hull never trailed although she was never more than 2 up at any point. She battled a wrist injury that had her sit all day Saturday and came to play Sunday against Lang, who did not produce her best stuff.

MATCH 25: Carlota Ciganda (Europe) def. Brittany Lincicome (U.S.), 4 and 3: Sorenstam pointed out that Ciganda didn’t perform her best the first two days, but she finally did in singles, although it was too late. More than a little surprising that Lincicome didn’t make more birdies.

MATCH 26: Gerina Piller (U.S.) def. Florentyna Parker (Europe), 4 and 2: Piller saved the Solheim Cup for the Americans two years ago in Germany and she brought her best against an overwhelmed Parker in singles. Piller is now 2-0-1 in Solheim singles matches.

MATCH 27: Madelene Sagstrom (Europe) def. Austin Ernst (U.S.), 3 and 2: The rookie Sagstrom put her first point on the board and it came against Ernst, her former LSU teammate. Once Sagstrom got to 3 up after six holes she was in control the rest of the way.

MATCH 28: Danielle Kang (U.S.) def. Emily Pedersen (Europe), 3 and 1: Kang was an absolute rock star for the Americans all week and it’s easy to envision the 24-year-old being on many Solheim Cup teams in the future. The match put a stamp on a 16 ½ to 11 ½ U.S. victory.


DAY 2

Afternoon fourballs: U.S. 3, Europe 1 (Overall: U.S. 10 ½, Europe 5 ½)

MATCH 13: Brittany Lang-Brittany Lincicome (U.S.) def. Carlota Ciganda-Mel Reid (Europe), 2 up: Easily the best match of the week and one that Europe did well to get to the 18th hole. Lincicome started with six straight birdies and made 10 in the first 15 holes. Lang dunked a wedge for eagle on the seventh hole. Europe was 10 under, and lost.

MATCH 14: Jodi Ewart Shadoff-Anna Nordqvist (Europe) def. Lizette Salas-Angel Yin (U.S.), 4 and 2: The only bright spot in another losing session for Europe. Both Europeans played great and kept continuous pressure on the Americans, who simply didn’t make many birdies.

MATCH 15: Paula Creamer-Austin Ernst (U.S.) def. Karine Icher-Madelene Sagstrom (Europe), 2 and 1: Another terrific match that had fireworks, including two near-aces on the par-3 14th hole. Creamer and Ernst collected their second win of the day as a team and both dropped putts all over the place.

MATCH 16: Cristie Kerr-Lexi Thompson (U.S.) def. Georgia Hall-Catriona Matthew (Europe), 4 and 2: The anchor match turned out to be another display of tremendous play from the red, white and blue. Kerr was 8 under on her own ball and the team was 12 under in the 16-hole match. Otherworldly. Kerr and Thompson are now 4-0-2 together as a team.


Morning foursomes: U.S. 2, Europe 2 (Overall: U.S. 7 ½, Europe 4 ½)

MATCH 9: Cristie Kerr-Lexi Thompson (U.S.) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff-Caroline Masson (Europe), 5 and 3: Win gave Kerr the most Solheim Cup points in U.S. history surpassing captain Juli Inkster. The difference was U.S. wins on Nos. 8, 9 and 10 to put it out of reach against Europe’s best team.

 MATCH 10: Paula Creamer-Austin Ernst (U.S.) def. Emily Pedersen-Mel Reid (Europe), 5 and 3: The second consecutive rout for the Americans to step on the Europeans at a crucial time. Won 11, 12, 13 and 15 to slam the door shut. Creamer becomes all-time top U.S. points-earner in foursomes play.

MATCH 11: Georgia Hall-Anna Nordqvist (Europe) def. Stacy Lewis-Gerina Piller (U.S.), 2 and 1: Sure, it was only Saturday morning but this was a match that Europe had to win to stop the bleeding. Lewis-Piller fall to a surprising 1-2 together this week, while Hall has quickly proved she will be a future superstar for Europe.

MATCH 12: Karine Icher-Catriona Matthew (Europe) def. Danielle Kang-Michelle Wie (U.S.), 2 and 1: Europe’s all-mom team collects its second victory together this week and hands Kang her first loss in three matches. This match assured Europe a 2-2 split in the morning session.


DAY 1

Afternoon fourballs: U.S. 4, Europe 0 (Overall: U.S. 5 ½, Europe 2 ½)

MATCH 5: Michelle Wie-Danielle Kang (U.S.) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff-Madelene Sagstrom (Europe), 3 and 1: Kang was a star on her first day playing in the Solheim Cup. She hit great shot after great shot and drained key putts all over the lot. It was a thing of beauty for the U.S. and she may just play in all five matches.

MATCH 6: Lizette Salas-Angel Yin (U.S.) def. Carlota Ciganda-Emily Pedersen (Europe), 6 and 5: An absolute drubbing as Salas pushed her second rookie of the day to victory. Europe was overmatched from the beginning and was 3 down after three holes because of three Salas birdies. But both Americans played superb.

MATCH 7: Brittany Lang-Brittany Lincicome (U.S.) def. Caroline Masson-Florentyna Parker (Europe), 3 and 2: The Europeans were overmatched but hung in there for awhile. Parker was out of sorts for most of the way, leaving Masson to helplessly play the two Brittany’s on her own.

MATCH 8: Stacy Lewis-Gerina Piller (U.S.) def. Georgia Hall-Charley Hull (Europe), 2 and 1: Redemption for the same U.S. duo that lost a match in the morning that they should’ve, at least, halved. Still, this was the best match of the afternoon that went down to the wire. A Lewis birdie on 17 sealed it.


Morning foursomes: Europe 2 ½, U.S. 1 ½

MATCH 1: Cristie Kerr-Lexi Thompson (U.S.) vs. Charley Hull-Mel Reid (Europe), halved: Thompson drove the first green, Kerr made the 10-foot eagle putt to go 1 up, but Europe fought back and was 2 up with two remaining. Americans won both the last two holes to make a halve feel like victory.

MATCH 2: Danielle Kang-Lisette Salas (U.S.) def. Carlota Ciganda-Caroline Masson (Europe), 1 up: The U.S. never trailed in this match but it was a nail-biter until the end. Europe won the 17th to take the match to the final hole, but the Americans made par to collect their only full point of the session.

MATCH 3: Georgia Hall-Anna Nordqvist (Europe) def. Paula Creamer-Austin Ernst (U.S.), 3 and 1: This match was close the entire way although Europe never trailed. With a 1-up lead standing on the 16th tee, Europe won the next two holes to quickly end this match.

MATCH 4: Karine Icher-Catriona Matthew (Europe) def. Stacy Lewis-Gerina Piller (U.S.), 1 up: This was a humongous victory for Europe, taking down arguably the American’s best foursomes team. Matthew only found out she was on the squad two days ago, and stepped up huge. Americans bogeyed the last hole, when par would’ve produced a half point.

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The Tiger comeback just got real on Friday

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 1:11 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Slow play was a big storyline on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing, but not so much anymore.

Not with Tiger Woods speeding things up Friday at the Honda Classic.

Not with Woods thumping the gas pedal around PGA National’s Champion Course, suddenly looking as if he is racing way ahead of schedule in his return to the game.

The narrative wondrously started to turn here.

It turned from wondering at week’s start if Woods could make the cut here, after missing it last week at the Genesis Open. His game was too wild for Riviera, where a second-round 76 left him looking lost with the Masters just six weeks away.

It turned in head-spinning fashion Friday with Woods climbing the leaderboard in tough conditions to get himself into weekend contention with a 1-over-par 71.

He is just four shots off the lead.

“I’d be shocked if he’s not there Sunday with a chance to win,” said Brandt Snedeker, who played alongside Woods in the first two rounds. “He’s close to playing some really, really good golf.”

Just a few short months ago, so many of us were wondering if Woods was close to washed up.

“He’s only going to improve,” Snedeker said. “The more time he has, as the weather gets warmer, he’ll feel better and be able to practice more.”

Snedeker has had a front-row seat for this speedy Tiger turnaround. He played the third round with Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open last month. That was Woods’ first PGA Tour start in a year.


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How much improvement did Snedeker see from that Torrey Pines experience?

“It was kind of what I expected – significantly improved,” Snedeker said. “His iron game is way better. His driver is way better. I don’t’ see it going backward from here.”

This was the hope packed into Friday’s new narrative.

“I’m right there in the ballgame,” Woods said. “I really played well today. I played well all day today.”

Tiger sent a jolt through PGA National when his name hit the top 10 of the leaderboard. He didn’t do it with a charge. He did it battling a brutish course in wintry, blustery winds, on “scratchy” and “dicey” greens that made par a good score.

When Woods holed a 25-foot putt at the ninth to move into red numbers at 1 under overall and within three shots of the lead, a roar shook across the Champion Course.

“It got a little loud, which was cool to see,” Snedeker said. “It’s great to have that energy and vibe back.”

Woods sent fans scampering to get into position, blasting a 361-yard drive at the 10th, cutting the corner. He had them buzzing when he stuck his approach to 9 feet for another birdie chance to get within two of the lead.

“I thought if he makes it, this place will go nuts, and he could get it going like he used to,” Snedeker said.

Woods missed, but with the leaders falling back to him on this grueling day, he stuck his approach at the 12th to 10 feet to give himself a chance to move within a shot of the lead.

It’s another putt that could have turned PGA National upside down, but Woods missed that.

“It really is hard to make birdies,” he said. “At least I found it hard. It was hard to get the ball close, even if the ball is in the fairway, it's still very difficult to get the ball close, with the wind blowing as hard as it is. It’s hard to make putts out here.”

Patton Kizzire, a two-time PGA Tour winner who won just last month at the Sony Open, could attest to how tough the test at Honda has become. He played alongside Woods this week for the first time in his career. He shot 78 Friday and missed the cut.

Kizzire had a close-up look at what suddenly seems possible for Woods again.

“He’s figuring it out,” Kizzire said. “He hit some nice shots and rolled in some nice putts. It was pretty impressive.”

Woods could not hide his excitement in getting himself in the weekend hunt, but his expectations remain tempered in this comeback. He knows the daily referendums his game is subject to, how we can all make the highs too high and the lows too low.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Woods said.

Woods lost a tee shot in a bush at the second hole and made bogey. He hit his tee shot in the water at the 15th and made double bogey. He three-putted the 16th to make bogey. He knows this course can derail a player’s plans in a hurry, but he knows his game is quickly coming around.

“I’m right there where I can win a golf tournament,” Woods said. “Four back on this golf course with 36 holes to go, I mean, anybody can win this golf tournament right now. It’s wide open.’”

Woods hit his shot of the day at the 17th to right his game after the struggles at the 15th and 16th. He did so in front of the Goslings Bear Trap Party Pavilion, cutting a 5-iron to 12 feet. It was the hardest hole on the course Friday, with nearly one of every three players rinsing a shot in the water there. Woods made birdie there to ignite an explosion of cheers.  He got a standing ovation.

“I was telling you guys, I love Riviera, I just don't play well there,” Woods said. “So here we are, we're back at a golf course I know and I play well here.”

So here we are, on the precipice of something special again?

Woods seems in a hurry to find out.

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List, Lovemark lead; Tiger four back at Honda

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 12:41 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Even with a tee shot into the water for another double bogey, Tiger Woods could see the big picture in the Honda Classic.

He was four shots out of the lead going into the weekend.

Luke List delivered a round not many others found possible in such difficult conditions Friday, a 4-under 66 that gave him a share of the lead with Jamie Lovemark (69). They were at 3-under 137, the highest score to lead at the halfway point of the Honda Classic since it moved to PGA National in 2007.

So bunched were the scores that Woods was four shots out of the lead and four shots from last place among the 76 players who made the cut at 5-over 145. More importantly, he only had 13 players in front of him.

''This is a difficult golf course right now,'' Woods said. ''Making pars is a good thing. I've done that, and I'm right there with a chance.''

And he has plenty of company.


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Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Race to Dubai on the European Tour last year, scratched out a 68 and was one shot out of the lead along with Webb Simpson (72), Russell Henley (70) and Rory Sabbatini (69).

Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger each shot 72 and were in a large group at 139. They were among only 10 players remaining under par.

Fleetwood laughed when asked the last time he was at 2 under after 36 holes and only one shot out of the lead.

''Maybe some junior event,'' he said. ''It's good, though. These are the toughest test in golf. Generally, one of the best players prevail at the end of weeks like this. Weeks like this challenge you to the ultimate level. Whether you shoot two 80s or you lead after two rounds, you can see what you need to do and see where your game is. Because this is as hard as it's ever going to get for you.''

The difficulty was primarily from the wind, which blew just as hard in the morning when List shot his 66 as it did in the afternoon. More aggravating to the players are the greens, which are old and bare, firm and crusty. It's a recipe for not making many putts.

Defending champion Rickie Fowler had six bogeys on his front nine and shot 77 to miss the cut.

''It's unfortunate that the greens have changed this much in a year,'' Fowler said. ''They typically get slick and quick on the weekend because they dry out, but at least there's some sort of surface. But like I said, everyone's playing the same greens.''

It looked as though List was playing a different course when he went out with a bogey-free 32 on the back nine, added a pair of birdies on the front nine and then dropped his only shot when he caught an awkward lie in the bunker on the par-3 seventh.

''It's very relentless,'' List said. ''There's not really too many easy holes, but if you hit fairways and go from there, you can make a few birdies out there.''

List and Lovemark, both Californians, have never won on the PGA Tour. This is the third time List has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead, most recently in South Korea at the CJ Cup, where he shot 76-72 on the weekend.

''It's kind of irrelevant because there's going to be 30 guys within a couple shots of the lead,'' List said. ''It's going to be that type of week.''

He was exaggerating – there were 11 players within three shots of the lead.

And there was another guy four shots behind.

Woods brought big energy to a Friday afternoon that already was hopping before he overcame a sluggish start and holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to make the turn at 1 under for his round, and leaving him two shots out of the lead. Everyone knew it just from listening to the roars.

Woods had his chances, twice missing birdie putts from inside 10 feet at Nos. 10 and 12, sandwiched around a 12-foot par save. His round appeared to come undone when he found the water on the 15th and made double bogey for the second straight day.

Then, he hit out of a fairway bunker, over the water and onto the green at the dangerous 16th hole and faced a 65-foot putt. He misread the speed and the line, so badly that it was similar to a car driving from Chicago to Denver and winding up in Phoenix. A bogey dropped him to 2 over.

The big moment was the 17th hole, 184 waters into the wind and over water. That's where Rory McIlroy made triple bogey earlier in the day that ruined his otherwise solid round of 72, leaving him seven behind. Making it even tougher for Woods is the Brandt Snedeker hit 5-iron before him to about 6 feet. Woods got to the tee and the wind died, meaning 5-iron was too much and 6-iron wouldn't clear the water.

He went with the 5-iron.

''I started that thing pretty far left and hit a pretty big cut in there because I had just too much stick,'' Wood said.

It landed 12 feet below the hole for a birdie putt.

Thomas made 17 pars and a double bogey when he three-putted from 6 feet on No. 16. He felt the same way as Woods.

''I'm in a good spot – really good spot – going into this week,'' Thomas said.

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Woods to play with Dufner (12:10 p.m.) in third round

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 12:10 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Jason Dufner in the third round of the Honda Classic.

Woods and Dufner, both at 1-over 141, four shots back, will tee off at 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday at PGA National. They’re in the 10th-to-last group.


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Co-leaders Luke List and Jamie Lovemark will go at 1:40 p.m.

Some of the other late pairings include Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger, who will be playing together for the third consecutive day, at 1 p.m.; Louis Oosthuizen and Thomas Pieters (1:10 p.m.); and Webb Simpson and Russell Henley, in the penultimate group at 1:30 p.m.

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Woods doesn't mind 'fun' but brutal 17th hole

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods doesn’t mind the boisterous crowd that surrounds the par-3 17th hole at PGA National.

And why should he?

When the wind died down Friday afternoon, Woods played a “big ol’ cut” with a 5-iron that dropped 12 feet from the cup. He made the putt – one of just nine birdies on the day – and when he walked off the green, the fans gave him a standing ovation.

The scene is expected to be even more raucous Saturday at the Honda Classic, especially with Woods in contention.

There is a Goslings Bear Trap tent just to the right of the tee. The hole has become a hot topic in recent years, after a few players complained that the noise from the nearby crowd was distracting as they tried to play a wind-blown, 190-yard shot over water.


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Woods was asked his thoughts on the party setup after finishing his second-round 71.

“As long as they don’t yell in our golf swings, we’re fine,” he said. “They can be raucous. They are having a great time. It’s fun. They are having a blast, and hopefully we can execute golf shots, but as long as they don’t yell in our golf swings, everything’s cool.”

After the recent Waste Management Phoenix Open, a few players told Woods that fans were trying to time their screams with the players’ downswings.

“There’s really no reason to do that,” Woods said. “I think that most of the people there at 17 are golfers, and they understand how hard a golf shot that is. So they are being respectful, but obviously libations are flowing.”

The 17th played as the most difficult hole on the course Friday, with a 3.74 scoring average and a combined score to par of 104 over. More than a quarter of the tee shots found the water.