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.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.