Unfinished business

By Jay CoffinSeptember 23, 2011, 7:21 pm

DUNSANY, Ireland – Europe may have lost another Solheim Cup on Friday with its inability to seal the deal.

Sure, captain Alison Nicholas was pleased that her team has a 4 1/2 to 3 1/2 advantage after the opening day. Leading, after all, is better than trailing. But Europe easily could have had a crushing 7-1 lead going into Saturday.

On a chilly opening day, Europe showed plenty of fight, but no ability to finish. Leaderboards that were blue most of the day often turned to red by the end of each session.

The Europeans chose to focus on the positive.

“Our goal is to win every day,” said Suzann Pettersen, who won both of her matches for Europe but will sit out the Saturday morning foursomes. “We won today.”

Said Nicholas: “They fought hard and with passion. You can’t change anything.”

A team that expects to win can’t do the things Europe did. There were shanks, skulls, chunks and flubs at the most inopportune times, sometimes twice on the same hole. If you followed the LPGA for a year you wouldn’t see the errors that were made by Europe over the 36-hole marathon day.

The morning foursomes ended 2-2, but were 3-1 in Europe’s favor for most of the session. Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome were 2 down after 14 holes, then won three of the last four holes to defeat Melissa Reid and Karen Stupples, who chunked a chip shot on the 18th hole, handing the Americans the full point.

“I’m gutted that I didn’t pull that shot off when I needed to,” Stupples said.

The afternoon was more of the same. Europe easily won Match 3 in the afternoon when Sophie Gustafson and Caroline Hedwall thumped Lincicome and Vicky Hurst, 5 and 4. Shortly after that match ended Europe had the lead in all three other matches, foreshadowing a possible fourball sweep.

Momentum turned quickly when Christina Kim made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole in her match with the much-criticized Ryann O’Toole against Catriona Matthew and Sandra Gal. Moments later Creamer made a 12-footer for birdie to get back to level with Morgan Pressel against Laura Davies and Melissa Reid.

Pressel then made the putt of the day on 18, a 25-footer for birdie, allowing the Americans to steal the match for the full point. Shortly thereafter Kim and O’Toole salvaged a halve.

“Knowing all these Americans, they’re always managing to turn it around and sneak in a point here and there,” Pettersen said.

That’s because the Europeans often let them.

The Europeans are already frustrated by the perceptions created by American wins in the past three Solheim Cups. Those perceptions affect not only them, but the competition itself. If Europe loses again this week and comes to Colorado Golf Club for the 2013 matches without having won in a decade, how much interest will there be?

The frustration is evident in the faces of the Europeans. They're tired of all the questions regarding their apparent lack of competitive fire. They’re insulted that some don’t feel they're worthy of being in this competition, and they’re sick of hearing that Asia should become part of this 21-year tradition.

U.S. captain Rosie Jones is understandably concerned only with her own team. “I can’t give these girls enough credit for digging it out when they really needed to,” she said. “With a lot of heart my team came back.”

With a whole lot of help, too.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.