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.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

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.