USA All the Way

By Mike RitzSeptember 24, 2002, 4:00 pm
Edina, Minn. -- Patty Sheehan turned cartwheels ' literally. Eleven American players and their caddies swarmed. Hugs and kisses and tears abounded. Team USA had won the Solheim Cup.
Captain Sheehan has won 35 times on the LPGA Tour. She owns six major championship titles. The 45-year-old dynamo is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame. But nothing, she said, compared to this ' captaining the Americans to victory. Im so proud of my players this smile may never leave my face, she said.
There was good reason to express American pride on this crisp, sunny Sunday afternoon. The Europeans started the day with a two-point lead. Team USA would have to win at least seven of the 12 singles matches and tie another to wrest the Cup back from Europe. The Yanks had accomplished such a feat in 1996 in Wales, erasing a 9-7 deficit by winning 10 of the 12 singles matches to take the Cup, 17-11.
The male American caddies that day in Europe decided not to shave to generate some good luck. The bag-carrying men eschewed the razors again, this time. Were the dirty dozen, beamed Bobby Inman, Meg Mallons caddie. The gritty guys may never shave again.
Early wins by Juli Inkster and Laura Diaz eliminated the Europeans advantage. The Yanks steamrolled their way to a 15-12 win. Team USA has now prevailed in five of the seven biennial matches, never losing on home soil.
The Cup was clinched for the Americans in a most inauspicious fashion. With the Yanks needing at least 14 points to recapture the prize, Pat Hurst earned point No. 14 with a 4-and-2 victory over Mhairi McKay. One hole back, in the final match, Rosie Jones was two-up on Karine Icher as they played the 15th. Icher was on the par-4 in regulation, 25 feet away. Jones, who missed the green short and right, hit a deft chip from the gnarly rough to 2 feet. Icher whiffed her approach putt, leaving it five feet short. She blew her next one four feet past, snatched up her ball in disgust and conceded the putt and the hole to Rosie.
And just like that, Jones had assured at least one-half point for the Americans and the Cup was theirs. There was no dramatic clinching putt. Rosie just picked up her mark and walked to 16 tee. There was no explosive celebration. Jones didnt even realize what she had just accomplished with her teammates. And those teammates werent there to see it happen. They were all gathered 400 yards away, behind the 16th green.
After Rosie closed out Icher on 16, the American party ensued. Weve got the Cup back, the five-time Solheim player yelled. This is so sweet.
The team gathered in the middle of the green. Inkster, who is now 4-and-1 in singles play, led the cheer: USA All The Way!
Michele Redman, who halved her match with Suzann Pettersen by losing the final five holes, had earned a half-point, but blown a half as well. Still, the second-time Solheim player had nothing to lament. This is a team win. And we won as a team, she said.
It gets more special every time, said Kelly Robbins, who has now been a part of four winning American teams. With her 5-and-3 win over Maria Hjorth, Kelly is now 4-0-1 in Solheim singles play.
Solheim Cup rookie Wendy Ward played Annika Sorenstam, the best player in the world, to a draw. Ive never experienced anything like this, exulted Wendy. Her smile has never been so wide. I havent won a tournament this year, but this makes the year a real success.
On the flip side, European captain Dale Reid said, Well be celebrating next year in Barseback (Sweden), when we win it back.
The all-time Solheim Cup points leader, Laura Davies, summed up losing the most prestigious international event in womens golf: Its miserable.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.