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.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: Who's got next?

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

“It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

“We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?



There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Web.com Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

“First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

“Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

“Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

“It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

“That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”