Hull, 17, thumps Creamer; a rising star in women's golf

By Jay CoffinAugust 19, 2013, 3:01 am

PARKER, Colo. – A new teenaged star is born in women’s golf and she doesn’t wear red, white and blue.

World, meet Charley Hull. She’s 17 years old and is going to be around for a while. You may recognize her as the fresh-faced, long-hitting, ponytailed blonde who waxed American superstar Paula Creamer to the tune of 5 and 4 in singles Sunday at the Solheim Cup, then asked Creamer to autograph a golf ball.

The England native contends the autograph was for a mate back home. Perhaps the friend ought to make sure he’s collected one from Hull too. She’s on the verge of becoming a superstar.

Hull is eminently likeable, saying early in the week that “It would rock my world if I went out there this time and won a couple of points.” After collecting a spectacular 2-1 record for the week she said she’d return home and describe her first Solheim Cup experience as “wicked.”

Hull charmed the masses with an interview on Tuesday at Colorado Golf Club that was equal parts naïve and hilarious.

For starters, she insisted she wouldn’t be nervous.

“Really is no different to hitting a tee shot at my home golf club,” Hull said with European teammate Suzann Pettersen sitting nearby shaking her head. “It’s the same swing and stuff, it’s a lot of people, obviously, but I’m just going to think of it like that.”

Hull insisted she’s never been intimidated on the course.

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“Well I played with Karrie Webb and Laura Davis the other day in the European Masters and I look at it as I was playing good golf and it was a great experience to play with them, but when I got out there and played I thought, ‘you know, they’re just normal people who are just good golfers.’ … I don’t see any point in being really intimidated over it. But I don’t know, I’m still young,” she said.

Over the next few days Hull – a captain’s pick whom Liselotte Neumann vehemently insisted could handle this big stage – proved she wasn’t nervous or intimidated when she went out and delivered the goods against the best American players.

“You have to like the fact that at 17 years of age and the newbie, she is not participating in the cheering and fist pumping,” said Golf Channel analyst Judy Rankin, a former winning U.S. Solheim Cup captain. “She is being respectful. I love the way this girl is handling that this week.”

After a defeat in her first fourball match, Hull’s stock rose Saturday afternoon when she and fellow rookie Jodi Ewart Shadoff took Creamer and Lexi Thompson to the last hole of their fourball match and recorded the 2-up victory. Hull made six birdies including one on the 17th hole from 4 feet after Thompson had already hit her shot to 5 feet. Thompson missed, Hull made and won the pivotal hole.

That match was the first of the session and set the tone for what ultimately ended with a 4-0 European sweep to set up a less stressful Sunday for the continent.

Hull’s singles performance was epic.

Going out in the second match against Creamer was the perfect spot for Hull to shine. First, not many expected Hull to win. Secondly, the pressure was on Creamer to perform because the Americans were in such an overwhelming deficit.

The match was all square after six holes but Hull put on a clinic when she won five of the next seven holes to quickly put the match out of reach. Creamer even holed a bunker shot on the 13th hole for birdie, but Hull then knocked in her birdie putt to halve the hole. Believe it or not, Hull also missed 4-foot birdie putts on Nos. 2, 4 and 8. You get the picture.

“Charley’s going to be around for a long time, and it’s pretty neat to see kind of the future of their team, as well, grow,” Creamer said. “She was a good player and she represented her country very well.”

Everything Hull does is as impressive as her performance this week. She’s the youngest ever to play in the Solheim Cup. She turned pro in March, promptly finished second in her first five Ladies European Tour events and caught the attention of Neumann, who was Hull’s captain two years ago for the Junior Solheim Cup.

Hull’s results speak volumes and are not a fluke. She has the game to be a success for a long time. She takes a violent lash at the ball with the driver and her trademark blonde ponytail whips around and hits her in the face. Her iron game is laser-like and her putting is above average even though she was shaky over a couple shorties during the singles match with Creamer.

Still, the most remarkable trait is Hull’s ability to play golf without a care in the world. It’s not an act. She truly doesn’t get nervous, she doesn’t get intimidated and she plays the game with a fresh approach that should be bottled and sold.

“This is how I always look at golf,” Hull said. “I’m not going to die if I hit a bad shot. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again.”

Said Neumann: “She had a special game and she brings a lot of energy to our team. She plays fearless and it was just awesome to have her on our team.

“I think we all love Charley.”

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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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.