Captaining The Cup
It's an honor that is not lost on Sheehan. 'I have prepared long and hard for this, and I'm so looking forward to being the captain, and, it's going to be a great experience for me, probably the cornerstone of my career.'
Sheehan, a member of the 1990, '92, '94, and '96 Solheim Cup Teams, has made a study of past captains' methods; noting Kathy Whitworth's control and attention to detail, JoAnne Carner's ability to motivate and Judy Rankin's reassuring style. 'You know I may be a combination of all of those because I have watched all of them, and, sort of picked up little things from each one of them,' Sheehan said.
In her mind there is no doubt that her team, comprised of five Solheim rookies, two Hall of Fame members, and five LPGA Tour veterans, will reach their goal of bringing the cup home once again.
A Hall of Fame member herself - with 35 wins to her credit including 6 majors - Sheehan needs not prove whether she has the intestinal fortitude necessary to bring her team to victory. In the course of her LPGA Tour career she weathered a devastating personal setback during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, in which she lost most all of her personal possessions. Then, she incurred the loss of an 11-stroke third round lead, which cost her the 1990 U.S. Women's Open. But Sheehan, cut from fine Vermont cloth, found strength in herself when others might have succumbed to defeat. Just two years later, determined to succeed, she defeated Juli Inkster in a playoff, in turn taking home the '92 Women's Open title.
That same fiery spirit and determination will now attempt to captain Inkster and 11 others to their team victory.
Now, days before the seventh Solheim Cup gets underway, Sheehan has the daunting task of pairing her team members. 'I've been struggling over putting together my pairings. I have about 20 sheets of paper in front of me that I've got pairings on. Some of them involve the ball consideration and some of them don't. Some of them involve personality and some involve the style of play. But, you know, I'll be making the pairings probably Monday or Tuesday so that we know approximately who to put in the practice rounds with, and they can start to familiarize themselves with each other.'
'I think putting a rookie with a veteran is probably a pretty good idea,' she continued. 'The rookies need to have a little bit of reassurance, you know, some calmness about the matches that putting two rookies together certainly would make them feel a little uncomfortable.'
Beth Daniel, participant in five out of six Solheim Cup teams, and four time Cup veteran Rosie Jones have spent the last few weeks sharing their insight and experience with some of the younger players. In addition, LPGA Founder and Minnesota native Patty Berg, will share her local knowledge of Interlachen C.C.
Even though this year's team spotlights five rookies - Laura Diaz, Cristie Kerr, Wendy Ward, Emilee Klein and Kelli Kuehne - just one rookie less than the European team, Sheehan is not worried. 'These young players are very talented. They're confident. They're cocky,' said Sheehan. 'These are the players that will be taking our places and carrying on the torch, carrying the flag for the United States in the years to come. It's great to have young blood, if you will, on the team. They bring a whole new dimension to dealing with my pairings, to locker room talk. They're a lot of fun to have around because they're pretty spunky.'
Several of the players have an opportunity to play the course last month and, according to their captain, they loved it. 'They thought it was a great old course,' Sheehan said of the classic Donald Ross design. 'They thought it was a prefect golf course for match play.'
'It's going to be a great week. It's going to be a great week for women's golf. It's probably the ultimate tournament that we have in women's golf worldwide.'
Full coverage of the Solheim Cup
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.