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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
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."
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."