After injury, Pettersen's Solheim role changes

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2017, 9:15 pm

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – This Solheim Cup seemed fated to begin and end with Suzann Pettersen.

The first tee is always wild in this event, with its boisterous traditions, from the patriotic celebrations to the creative chants, but Pettersen’s arrival this year promised to make it more awkward in its edgy, nervy and chaotic welcome to the week’s drama.

Nobody quite knew what we should expect when Pettersen stepped to the first tee Friday in foursomes, her first time back on American soil as a European in the Solheim Cup since that furor broke out in Germany two years ago.

Booing?

Heckling?

Or a polite and respectful welcome?

For better or worse, Pettersen’s introduction on the first tee ranked as one of the most anticipated moments of this women’s golf season.

“I hope they don’t heckle her,” U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster said Monday. “I hope they respect her and respect her play.”

We won’t know what Friday would have brought.

And we won’t know how Pettersen would have handled the weight of this challenge.

We’ll never know.

The script’s torn to pieces.

With Pettersen’s withdrawal Wednesday with a back injury, this Solheim Cup goes in search of new theater, new heros and anti-heros.

Pettersen was a scriptwriter’s dream, because she was all of that. She was Europe’s hero, America’s anti-hero. Her shoulders seemed broad enough, her will fierce enough to carry that kind of weight.


Solheim Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Team records: United States | Europe


“I don’t think anything really affects Suzann,” Inkster said before hearing news of Pettersen’s withdrawal. “I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal.”

It’s difficult to imagine that somehow, deep down, Pettersen might be relieved. There will be some folks who suspect that, but it doesn’t fit her M.O.

Pettersen, who said she slipped a disc in her back while running last weekend back in her Norwegian homeland, was asked if she was worried about getting a hostile reception on the first tee.

“No,” she said. “Very disappointed not to play, obviously. To be able to play for the crowds they say we are going to have this weekend, it’s probably going to be the biggest crowds we’ve ever had.”

Now that’s quintessential Pettersen.

Catriona Matthew is replacing her. Matthew is no slouch at 47. The Scot also gets a huge dose of the credit for helping the Euros turn themselves around against the Americans. She’s 15-10-8 in these matches. She was 3-1 in Germany as a 45-year-old.

Now Pettersen takes Matthew’s place as a vice captain. There’s some tiny consolation in that, in the notion that it will help prepare Pettersen to be a captain someday. She’ll bring everything to the captain’s job that she brought as a player.

European captain Annika Sorenstam told Pettersen Wednesday to grab a headset.

“You might change your mind once I start speaking,” Pettersen told her.

“OK, I’m going to mute you,” Sorenstam cracked.

Somehow, some way, you know Pettersen will still be trying to figure out some way to help the Euros win this week.

Even before she was at the center of the controversy that ignited in Germany two years ago, when American Alison Lee scooped up an 18-inch putt she thought the Euros conceded, a mistake that thrust Pettersen into the middle of a firestorm, Pettersen was the face of the European effort.

Pettersen was Europe’s heart and soul.

She was such a large part of Europe turning these biennial matches to its advantage, with the upset in Ireland six years ago, and with the record rout in Colorado four years ago, Europe’s first victory on American soil.

Pettersen, 36, made the Solheim Cup more competitive and more dramatic.

“Suzann is always one of the thorns in the side of the Americans,” Morgan Pressel said in Germany.

This Solheim Cup won’t be quite the same without her. She’s 16-11-6 in these matches. Nobody teeing it up this week has won more Solheim Cup matches on the European or American side.

Nobody teeing it up this week has won more points (19) in the Solheim Cup.

“It made me really sad,” American Michelle Wie said of the Pettersen news. “I don't remember a Solheim without Suzann in it. She has always been such a big part of the European team. I remember going against her, being really good friends, always. They were matches you knew were going to get intense, were going to be really fun.”

That’s why this week won’t be the same without Pettersen inside the ropes.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: