Whan, Inkster aiming for a raucous Solheim Cup

By Randall MellJune 20, 2017, 5:51 pm

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan led what amounted to a homecoming pep rally during Solheim Cup media day Monday in Des Moines, Iowa.

He told Iowans the festive nature of the international biennial women’s team event will be unlike any golf competition the state has ever hosted, including the last major it hosted, the U.S. Senior Open in 1999.

“No offense to the USGA and no offense to men over 50, but this ain’t no Senior Open we are bringing here,” Whan said. “I’m sure that was fun, but I promise you this won’t feel like that.”

Whan said he has actually lost his voice screaming support to players watching Solheim Cups.

“This is an event where the 'quiet please’ signs go away,” Whan said. “We don’t want that. You’ll be quiet for a couple seconds and then start screaming again. This is a football game that met a soccer match that met MMA.”

The United States vs. Europe women’s team event is less than two months away (Aug. 18-20), and Whan joined U.S. captain Juli Inkster and potential American team members Jessica Korda and Austin Ernst in whipping up enthusiasm. The event will return to network television for the first time in 15 years, with NBC announcing this week that it will air Sunday singles matches beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 20. Golf Channel will air all three rounds, including early Sunday singles play from noon-4 p.m. ET, and will also air the opening and closing ceremonies.

During media day, Inkster announced plans to more fully enlist the support of American fans attending Friday, Saturday and Sunday rounds at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. She is calling for fans to wear red on Friday, white on Saturday and blue on Sunday.

“I’d love to have a red out, a white out and a blue out,” Inkster said.

Inkster wants it colorful and noisy.

“I love that my team feeds off that,” Inkster said.

The Americans defeated Europe in an epic Sunday comeback in Germany two years ago. The Europeans won the two Solheim Cups staged before that, including the last played in the United States, when the Euros won in a record rout at Colorado Golf Club in 2013.

Overall, the Americans lead the competition, 9-5.

The American roster will be finalized at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Aug. 6.

“We still have three majors left with double points,” Inkster said. “We still have a lot of golf to play.”

The top eight Americans on the final U.S. Solheim Cup points list will make the team, as will the two Americans who are positioned highest in the world rankings who aren’t already qualified on points. Inkster will also make two captain’s picks at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Here is the updated U.S. Solheim Cup points list:

1. Lexi Thompson, 612
2. Stacy Lewis, 386.5
3. Gerina Piller, 350.5
4. Cristie Kerr, 338.5
5. Jessica Korda, 299
6. Brittany Lang, 247
7. Austin Ernst, 227
8. Michelle Wie, 214
9. Angela Stanford, 211
10. Danielle Kang, 202.5
11. Brittany Lincicome, 192
12. Mo Martin, 178
13. Lizette Salas, 162.5
14. Jennifer Song, 134
15. Marina Alex, 128.5
16. Alison Lee, 124

*Points are awarded to top-20 finishers in LPGA events, with first place earning 60 points, second place getting 30, third place taking 28.5 points and on down to three points for 20th place. Points are doubled in major championships.

Here is the U.S. Solheim Cup World Rankings List:

1. Mo Martin (No. 37)
2. Brittany Lincicome (No. 40)
3. Danielle Kang (No. 42)
4. Angela Stanford (No. 48)
5. Lizette Salas (No. 53)

*This list features the highest ranked Americans who aren’t among the top eight on the U.S. points list. The top two on this list at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open will qualify for the team.

Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.