Tale of the tape: U.S, Euro Solheim Cup teams

By Randall MellAugust 25, 2015, 3:38 pm

How do the American and European Solheim Cup teams stack up going to Germany in three weeks?

The Americans are younger. They’re ranked considerably higher overall in the Rolex world rankings. They’ve won twice as many LPGA titles and twice as many majors.

On paper, the Americans tower over Europe, but are they the underdogs going to St. Leon-Rot Golf Club, Sept. 18-20? With Europe playing at home this year, with the momentum and confidence of having won the last two Solheim Cups, are they the favorites?

All 12 players on the European roster are Solheim Cup veterans. Eleven of the 12 were either on the team that beat the Americans in 2013 or 2011.

“We’re the underdogs,” U.S. captain Juli Inkster said.

It makes sense. The Americans have lost the last two Solheim Cups. They got waxed in Colorado two years ago, beaten in a record rout. And now they’re headed overseas, with giant crowds expected in Germany for the biennial international competition.

But odds makers don’t think so.

All the bookmakers have the Americans favored. Paddy Power makes the United States 8-13 favorites, William Hill makes them 4-6 favorites and Totesport makes them 8-11 favorites.

The Americans have an average world ranking of 24.6, the Europeans 50.6.

The Americans have won 16 LPGA titles over the last two seasons, the Euros have won four. If you think that comparison’s bogus because the LPGA is an American-based tour, know that all but two players on the European roster are active LPGA members.

The Americans have won 10 major championships, the Europeans four.

The Americans are even younger, if that’s an advantage. Their average age is 28.3 compared to the Europe’s 30.3.

Here’s the tale of the tape, U.S. vs. Europe:

European player Age World rank LPGA titles Major wins Solheim record
Suzann Pettersen  34  7  15  2  14-9-6
Gwladys Nocera    40  63  0  0  5-3-2
Charley Hull    19  45  0  0  2-1-0
Melissa Reid    27  77  0  0  1-3-0
Anna Nordqvist    28  10  5  1  6-5-1
Azahara Munoz    27  23  1  0  4-3-1 
Sandra Gal    30  43  1  0  0-2-1
Carlota Ciganda    25  52  0  0  3-0-0
Catriona Matthew    46  53  4  1  12-9-8
Caroline Hedwall    26  107  0  0  7-1-1
Caroline Masson    26  71  0  0  2-1-1
Karine Icher    36  57  0  0  3-1-1

U.S. player Age World rank LPGA titles Major wins Solheim record
Stacy Lewis  30  3  11  2  2-5-1
Lexi Thompson  20  8  5  1  1-2-0
Cristie Kerr  37  14  17  2  12-14-4
Michelle Wie  25  20  1  6-5-1
Brittany Lincicome  29  13  6  2  5-7-2
Morgan Pressel  27  24  2  1  8-5-2
Angela Stanford    37  33  5  0  3-11-3
Gerina Piller   30  38  0  0  0-2-1
Lizette Salas  26  32  1  0  0-1-2
Alison Lee  20  29  0  0  0-0-0
Brittany Lang   30  42  1  0  5-4-2
Paula Creamer    29  40  10  1  12-6-5
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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.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.