Notes Solheim for Stupples

By Martin ParkAugust 2, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Weetabix WomenBERKSHIRE, England -- It might be over a year to go until next years Solheim Cup matches, where holders Europe will aim to beat the USA at Crooked Stick GC in Indianapolis, but with her victory at the Weetabix Womens British Open, Karen Stupples has jumped into contention for one of the seven automatic spots in Catrin Nilsmarks European team.
 
Karen StupplesStupples is currently in second place on 64.50 points behind world No. 1 Annika Srenstam and will have a huge head start when she returns to playing European golf next season.
 
Double points are available for next seasons run-in to The Solheim Cup and with Stupples playing all four majors and a fair chunk of next years Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour, not many bookmakers would give you odds on the Kentish woman failing to get in the side.
 
If by any fluke, she does not play her way in to the top seven spots, Nilsmark has the luxury of five wild card picks as a safety net to have Stupples teeing it up against the Americans.
 
This year I have previous commitments to the LPGA Tour, but definitely, I will be playing more in Europe next year as I can rejoin the LPGA as an International member and play on both sides of the Atlantic, said the 31-year-old from Deal in Kent, who becomes the third British player to win a major after Laura Davies and Alison Nicholas.
 
Its always been a dream of mine to play in The Solheim Cup. I loved playing in the Curtis Cup so its a natural progression for me. Its my biggest goal for next season.
 
Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Race Heats Up
With some scintillating performances over the last few weeks, Finnish teenager Minea Blomqvist has turned the Ryder Cup Wales rookie of the year race in her favor as she leads Wales Becky Brewerton with three events to play.
 
The award is given to the highest placed rookie on the Ladies European Tour each season and boasts a long list of world class players who have won the award including Annika Srenstam, Karrie Webb, Laura Davies and Helen Alfredsson.
 
The 19-year-old from Helsinki sits in fifth place on this seasons LET Order of Merit on 372.93 points, two places ahead of Brewerton in seventh place on 330.49 points ' exactly the same as their respective Solheim rankings.
 
The Finn took full advantage as Brewerton opted not to play in the OTP Bank Central European Open when Blomqvist won her maiden title to become the first rookie to win on the LET since 2001, when Paula Marti, Suzann Pettersen and Karine Icher won five titles between them.
 
All three went on to represent Europe in The Solheim Cup in 2002 and there is little reason to suspect both Blomqvist and Brewerton wont repeat history next year in America after some excellent performances this year so far. Brewerton has finished second twice this year already with one third place, which saw her take a healthy lead among the rookies.
 
But Brewerton missed the cut at the Weetabix Womens British Open, while Blomqvist made the cut right on the 2-over par mark. But her record breaking third round of 10-under par 62 ' her second in three weeks ' shot her up the leaderboard and in contention for the title.
 
A final round 70 saw her finish in eighth place and overtake Brewerton at the top of the Order of Merit.
 
The race is likely to go down to the wire with the HP Open in Sweden and the Wales Golf as it should be Ladies Open in the next two weeks, with the award decided at the Catalonia Ladies Masters from October 1-3.
 
Stupples Makes the Biggest of Birds
Englands Karen Stupples got off to a dream start in the final round of the Weetabix Womens British Open as she began with an eagle three at the opening hole and an albatross two at the par-5 second.
 
Stupples hit her 5-iron second shot to the second hole from 205-yards and watched it run down the green, hit the flagstick and jam into the side of the cup.
 
It was only the second albatross made in a womens major championship after Asa Gottmo made one at Turnberry in 2002.
 
Stupples ties 36-hole tournament record.
 
Englands Karen Stupples tied the Weetabix Womens British Open 36-hole record (par-72 course) with a 65-70=135 (-9). Stupples tied Karrie Webbs record of 9-under-par, which was set during the 1997 Weetabix Womens British Open also held at Sunningdale Golf Club.
 
Blomqvist Makes History with her Second 62
During Saturdays third round of the Weetabix Womens British Open, Minea Blomqvist from Finland set the lowest ever score at a major golf championship, mens or womens, with a stunning 10-under-par 62 breaking the course record of 63 set by Karrie Webb in 1997.
 
The 19-year-old from Helsinki carded six birdies and two eagles and equalled her lowest personal total of 62 which she set en route to her maiden victory in Hungary at the OTP Bank Central European Open three weeks ago.
 
But this was a shot lower under par as the Old Lake course in Hungary was a par 71, while the 6392-yard long Old Course at Sunningdale is a par 72.
 
The Finn started the tournament well with a 4-under-par 68, which included seven birdies and a triple bogey at the 11th hole. But in the second round, Blomqvist racked up 40 putts in a 6-over-par 78 and only just made the halfway cut at two over par.
 
Yesterday, I was just happy to make the cut to go on in the tournament, said Blomqvist, who has won three professional events this year and the Order of Merit on the Nedbank Womens Golf Tour in South Africa.
 
I made an eagle and then went on and I had a feeling today that everything is going good and thats always and easy feeling to take.
 
I knew immediately that it was my own record when the putt went in on the 18th. I was nervous at the time and I was thinking I was going to make par, but I would like to make birdie.
 
In fact, the only thing she missed all day was the step leading into the scorers hut. Even then she kept her composure, smiled and signed for her place in history and the equal lowest score on the Ladies European Tour.
 
The previous low round in a major championship was a 63 recorded four previous times. Blomqvist finished tied for eighth in the event.
 
Blomqvist matched the mark of 62 set by Norways Suzann Pettersen at last years final round of the HP Open in Sweden and also Trish Johnsons 62 in the 1996 French Open. However, Johnsons 62 was 11 under around the par 73 Arras GC in Northern France.
 
Matthew has another hole-in-one at Sunningdale
 
Scotlands Catriona Matthew fired an ace at the par-3 eighth hole with a 6-iron from 164-yards during the third round of the Weetabix Womens British Open. It was her second hole-in-one at the event after she did the same thing on the 15th hole in 2001.
 
Austrias Natascha Fink also made a hole-in-one at the eighth during Sundays final round.
 
Nicholas Calls it a Day in Professional Golf
In an emotional interview on the BBC with Hazel Irvine, Englands Alison Nicholas, winner of the Weetabix Womens British Open in 1987, announced her impending retirement from professional tournament golf at the end of this season.
 
After 20 years travelling around the globe, and winning 12 events on the LET and six other worldwide victories, including a memorable victory in the 1997 Womens US Open, when she defeated the legendary Nancy Lopez at Pumpkin Ridge, Nicholas, also known as Big Al opted to call it a day.
 
Its time to move on now, said a tearful Nicholas, who made the cut in her final British Open.
 
Ive got Osteoarthritis in my neck and my body is telling me to slow down a bit and it really is time to look at something else outside golf.
 
Im really going to miss the crack on Tour and Ive achieved everything I ever could have dreamed of, especially the US Open. When I began playing golf, I was given Nancys book and she was always my idol. It really was a bit surreal to beat her at that event and its my most cherished moment.
 
Im still going to be involved with the game as vice-captain of The Solheim Cup, so I wont be completely disappearing and it would be so special to me if we as a team could go and win the trophy over in the USA next yearthat would really top off a wonderful career for me.
 
Davies Cure for Slow Play
Shoot them! ' The words of Laura Davies, one of the fastest players in womens golf after enduring a five hour round at Sunningdale during the Weetabix Womens British Open.
 
I think the girls play too slowly. Having been inside the ropes a couple of weeks ago watching the boys play at Troon, four hours and 20 minutes says it all really, added Davies.
 
We should play quicker, everyone knows that. I think the players speed up when the officials are timing them and slow down when they go ' its an art form and its bloody irritating.
 
I think on the womens Tour, Ive just got this feeling that the reason is all of the short putts get marked. The girls seem to take much more care about standing on the lines and I think the guys just putt out anywhere from 3 feet.
 
Perhaps their etiquette is over the top, people should just tap in, unless its really wet greens. But on greens like this, you could stand all day in a spot and not make an indentation, which is perfect.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Weetabix Women's British Open
  • Full Coverage - Weetabix Women's British Open
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.