Teams Starting to Gel
Both captains gave indications that their teams, each made up of almost half rookies, were enjoying the Solheim Cup experience at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., near Minneapolis.
The golf course is beautiful, Rosie Jones said. Its in great shape, greens are very ' going to be very tricky as far as hitting the ball into the green and you just have to be below the hole to play this golf course well.
There are some greens that its hard to keep it below the hole, so the putting is difficult, like Rosie said, Beth Daniels agreed.
Short game will make all the difference between winning and loosing a point on the Donald Ross-designed greens at Interlachen. Positioning the ball below the hole will be imperative.
You may see a few people look silly on the greens this week, but thats Donald Ross. Daniels continued.
The American team, in particular, looked exceedingly relaxed mid-week. Perhaps it was due to the patriotic 'barf bags' provided to each team member by staunch supporter Dottie Pepper. More likely it was due to the strength and comaraderie Sheehans team has found within.
Sheehans team will be a difficult force to stop ' especially on American soil and no one echoed this more than Laura Davies.
I think I would probably give the Americans a slight favorite because of a home advantage,' European Solheim Cup veteran Davies said while continuing to exude confidence about her team's chances. I think if you pair up the teams, Annika (Sorenstam) aside - because I think anyone playing against Annika has got their work cut out - because thats been true throughout.
Obviously, some players have been more consistent this year, but in the match play forum that we have got this week, we can all beat each other on any given day, so I really do think its going to be a very close match and it wouldnt surprise me if it comes down to the last thing on Sunday afternoon.
Davies indicated that the team would be looking to Sorenstam to win four points. Teammate Helen Alfredsson, considered by many to be the best match player in the world, backed that up and is confident that her fellow Swede can live up to the expectations.
We just have to make sure that she is happy and playing her best game, Alfredsson said of Sorenstam.
Davies has played in every Solheim Cup since inception. Its, without a doubt, the most enjoyable event we play, once we get going, Davies said in mid-week.
I have to say, the start of the week is a bit slow, practice rounds, you just seem to always be doing something, we were just talking about it on the way down, and its something, its part of the week, but its not the most enjoyable,' she said. 'The most enjoyable is when the gun goes off, and I think some of the new players to the team find that side of it quite hard.
So me, as a veteran on the team, just tell them to enjoy it because it really is, win or lose, its the most enjoyable week every two years, so that would be my advice to them.
While the Europeans are counting on Alfredsson and Davies to help the rookies through the week, the Americans are counting on Juli Inkster. Im far from the leader here, Inkster joked. These guys tell me what to wear.
You know, we had a lot of rookies on this team, but we have a lot of veterans, too, and I think everybody is chipping in, and I think thats the way it should be.
With one practice day left, the clock is ticking for both Sheehan and Reid to submit their parings. I can honestly say, I am not close at all at the moment, Captain Reid said. I am still another practice day to go, I want to see how everybody else is, I am still chatting a lot to my players, so, you know, obviously, I have to get the team in on the time required, but hopefully Pam and myself will come up with the right choice.
I pretty much have a good idea of who I am putting with whom, and feel pretty good about it, Sheehan confidently said of her team. The way I look at it, I dont really have any bad parings, so I have got 12 players and I could basically throw up balls, like you do on the first tee, and whoever's ball goes next to who is a pretty good pairing.
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.