Davies running out of time to make Solheim team

By Randall MellJuly 25, 2013, 9:59 pm

Laura Davies doesn’t want an era to end, but the pressure is mounting on her in the two-week run-up for European Solheim Cup qualifying.

Davies is the only player to have competed in every Solheim Cup staged, all 12 going back to the inaugural in 1990.

She also holds records for most matches played (46), most points won (25) and most matches won (22, tied with Annika Sorenstam).

At 49, however, Davies is in a difficult spot to make the team for a 13th time with just two qualifying events left before the European team is set. She’s way down the qualifying ranks. She is 21st in the Euro Solheim Cup points standings and needs to crack the top four to secure an automatic roster spot. At No. 179 in the Rolex world rankings, Davies is even farther down in the Euro Solheim Cup world rankings list. She's 25th. She would also need to crack the top four on the Euro rankings list to earn an automatic roster spot.

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Davies has this week’s ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters in England and next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland to try to qualify, or at least show something to captain Liselotte Neumann, who has four picks to make.

Davies told European reporters on the eve of this week's Ladies Masters that she would like to win and make her way on the team.

“I’m hoping I can do that, or just to show a bit form to the captain,” Davies said. “There might be one pick left that she’s um-ing and ah-ing about. I think the team pretty much sets up. A lot of people agree about who’s definitely in. There might be one spot left up for grabs and maybe if someone has a strong finish these two weeks they might get the captain’s attention.”

The Solheim Cup is scheduled Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver. The teams will be announced a couple hours after the conclusion of the Women’s British Open.

Davies has 41 Solheim Cup points. Currently, Germany's Caroline Masson holds the fourth qualifying spot on points with 107.50. A victory at the Ladies Masters is worth 40 points this week, with a win at the Women’s British Open worth 80 points next week. There are points for top-10 finishes this week and top-20 finishes next week.

“You want to be there on merit,” Davies said. “You don’t want to be a captain’s pick. It means you haven’t done enough for two years to warrant that automatic spot, but then again the picks are there for a reason and sometimes you want something different. Sometimes it’s a new player, sometimes it might be bringing in an experienced player.”

If the European team were named today, Norway's Suzann Pettersen, Spain's Carlota Ciganda, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and Masson would make the team on points. Spain's Beatriz Recari, Sweden's Anna Nordqvist, France's Karine Icher and Spain's Azahara Munoz would make if off the world rankings.

The four captain's picks? Neumann has some tough choices in whether to go with form or Solheim Cup experience.

Sweden's Caroline Hedwall, who had a hand in Europe defeating the Americans in Ireland two years ago, is on the edge of qualifying off either the points list or the world rankings list. She seems a likely captain's pick. Though England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff has no Solheim Cup experience, she's No. 45 in the world and becoming a regular on LPGA leaderboards this year. Germany's Sandra Gal, who helped the Euros win in Ireland, also seems a strong possibility at No. 54 in the world but so does France's Gwladys Nocera, who is fifth on the Euro points list and has played on three Solheim Cup teams.

There's also a wealth of experience to choose from in Davies, Sweden's Sophie Gustafson and Maria Hjorth, England's Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid and the Netherlands' Christel Boeljon. They've all played on winning European Solheim Cup teams but have struggled to find their best form this season. England's 17-year-old Charley Hull is also garnering a lot of attention as an LET rookie.

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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

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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.

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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."

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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.


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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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."