Solheim Fever Descends on Sweden
Ask European team member Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 player in the world and a native of Sweden. Sweden is the host of this years celebration of womens golf Sept. 12-14.
Theyre excited, she said of her fellow Swedes, and Im excited.
Its going to be a great event for many reasons. Its the first time we can really showcase Sweden, its such a big event. I know theyve sold something like 80,000 tickets. So, Im expecting that the whole country will be there, and I hope the golf will be as good as the tournament.
American Juli Inkster admits the butterflies have started working on her psyche. But she wouldnt want to be anyplace else.
You work two years to get here, and then you wonder why you do it, because its so nerve-wracking, she confessed.
But its a lot of fun. Weve got a great team. Its going to be a great challenge, but its going to be a lot of fun.
In addition to Inkster, the American team will include Beth Daniel, Laura Diaz, Rosie Jones, Cristie Kerr, Meg Mallon, Michele Redman, Kelly Robbins, Angela Stanford and Wendy Ward. Heather Bowie and Kelli Kuehne complete the 12-person team as captain Sheehan's two captain's picks.
Europe will counter with Sorenstam and fellow Swede Sophie Gustafson, Germany's Elisabeth Esterl, Iben Tinning of Denmark, Ana B. Sanchez of Spain, Scotland's Mhairi McKay and England's Laura Davies. Nilsmark selected as her captains picks Patricia Meunier-Lebouc of France, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Sweden's Carin Koch, and Scotlands Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie.
'This is a fun time for me,' said Sheehan after she announced her team. 'I have a couple of young players as picks, and we have such depth on our team, such experience and so many great players that I felt that it would be great to have some young new blood and enthusiasm coming from the younger players to sort of inject some adrenaline in our team.
Sheehans picks of Bowie (28) and Kuehne (26) represent the youth that she wants to impart to her team. The veteran leadership will come from Daniel (seven appearances), Mallon (six), Jones and Robbins (five) and Inkster (four appearances).
The 2003 U.S. team will include two rookies to the event: Stanford, who is three-year tour veteran, and Bowie, who is in her fourth year on tour.
Sheehan believes it is one of the strongest teams in Solheim Cup history. Why?
Because we have a lot of experience and the younger players that I have, the rookies are all very strong and confident players and every single one of them has a lot of great match play history, she said. Match play records. Kelli Kuehne probably has one of the best for a rookie. Cristie Kerr is, she's unbelievable. Cristie Kerr has done something that not many people can do. And that is transform herself.
Davies has played in all seven previous Solheim Cups for Europe. Sorenstam has appeared in five. The remainder of the Europeans are one- or two-time competitors with a scattering of first-timers.
Laura has always loved the Solheim Cup, Sheehan said. She really is the heart and sole I think of the European team and so she's getting ready. She's putting her game face on.
Koch, who has missed significant time this season after giving birth to her second child, is an impressive 7-0-1 and was unblemmished in 2002 until halving the final match on the course on Sunday against Daniel.
'The Solheim Cup is probably the showcase event for all of women's golf in the world,' said Sheehan. 'We know that and the players always rise to the occasion and always play incredible exciting golf.
I look forward to the experiences being The Solheim Cup captain for the American side. I have been through it once. It was the most wonderful experience being a winning captain. And I look forward to bringing the Cup home.'
Qualifying points for the U.S. team were awarded weekly to the top-10 finishers and ties at official LPGA tournaments. Points were doubled at the four major championships every year. The LPGA's four major tournaments are the Kraft Nabisco Championship, McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by AIG, U.S. Women's Open and the Weetabix Women's British Open.
The Solheim Cup will be televised by The Golf Channel in the United States. The Golf Channel will televise at least 27 hours of live golf during this year's Solheim Cup, plus both the opening and closing ceremonies and a 30-minute wrap-up show after the first two days of competition. In addition, The Golf Channel will re-air in primetime three hours of the most compelling portions from each day's competition.
It will be a lifetime experience for the women, says Sheehan.
The Solheim Cup experience is none other than extraordinary for these players. They spend two years trying to get on the team and it is unbelievable, the pressure that they will be under for those matches at the Solheim Cup. (The matches) will be more than they have ever experienced before. And the rookies have no idea how unbelievable this is going to be for them.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x