Americans using 2011 defeat as Solheim motivation

By Randall MellAugust 13, 2013, 9:57 pm

PARKER, Colo. – Some losses never leave you.

The top three Americans in the world rankings today can all say that about losing the Solheim Cup in Ireland two years ago.

Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr are the most decorated champions on the American roster. Lewis is No. 2 in the world, Creamer No. 11 and Kerr No. 12. They’re the last three Americans to win major championships. They’ve combined to win 33 LPGA titles, but that one loss in Ireland bitterly resonates above all that this week with the Americans determined to win back the cup from Europe at Colorado Golf Club.

Lewis, Creamer and Kerr failed to contribute a single point to the American cause in that nightmarish Sunday at Killeen Castle. The loss was stunning in how three of the toughest competitors on the American side got blanked.

They haven’t forgotten what that feels like.

Lewis stayed there in the aftermath with the rest of the Americans to watch Europe giddily celebrate its 15-13 triumph.

“I made myself stay there and watch because I wanted to remember that,” Lewis told “I wanted to remember what it felt like.”

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Lewis remembers Creamer turning to the rest of the Americans amid the celebration and making a pledge.

“This is never going to happen again,” Creamer told them.

Here is all you need to know about how painful that Sunday was on America’s best: As tough as they are, Creamer and Kerr broke down in tears. They don’t cry after losses, but they did that day.

The top three Americans in the world went 0-3 in singles.

With the matches 8-8 going into Sunday, Creamer was sent off first to secure the United States’ first point and to set the tone. There was no surprise seeing Creamer leading off. She is an American bulldog at the Solheim Cup. She was 11-2-5 overall in Solheim Cups going into that Sunday, a perfect 3-0 in singles.

Creamer, though, was the first American to fall, and she fell hard.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew routed Creamer 6 and 5. The sight of that thrashing on scoreboards across Killeen Castle emboldened the rest of the Europeans.

In the second singles match off, Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson whipped Lewis 2 up.

This wasn’t the tone Creamer and Lewis wanted to set.

“I remember sitting there at the end, watching it and thinking, `Is this really happening?’” Creamer said. “It was a terrible feeling. I had never been on a team that lost before.”

Kerr was emotionally crushed before she even reached the first tee in the anchor match.

With her injured left wrist aching too much to allow her to play, Kerr wept telling Solheim Cup officials on the practice range that she would have to concede her match to Karen Stupples.

“I had a photo of my teammates in my yardage book to motivate me, but, unfortunately, I just couldn’t go one more round,” Kerr said. 

Kerr fell distraught into her husband’s arms on the range when she realized she couldn’t go.

“Words really can’t express the way I felt,” Kerr said. “I let my teammates down, my country down, my captain down. I didn’t let myself down, because I gave it all I had. I played four matches in a lot of pain.”

It should come as no surprise Lewis, Creamer and Kerr finished 1-2-3 on the U.S. points list for qualifying for this year’s Solheim Cup. They’re among eight players back from the American team that lost in Ireland.

All eight return this week looking to erase that sour memory and avoid adding an even worse memory. The Americans have never lost a Solheim Cup on American soil.

Angela Stanford was asked if the loss in Ireland lingers as motivation.

“I remember the feeling waking up Monday morning in Ireland and thinking, `Man, I’m going to have to listen to the Europeans for two years,’” Stanford said. “I think our team has used it as motivation.”

Lewis used that loss to help her become the LPGA’s Player of the Year last season and become the Rolex world No. 1 for four weeks earlier this year.

“If that Solheim Cup doesn’t happen, I don’t think I would have been able to do anything I’ve done the last two years,” Lewis said. “It changed me as a golfer and as a person. I learned so much about myself and how to handle adversity, handle a tough situation on and off the golf course.”

The Americans will have that loss in Ireland driving them again this week.

“I definitely think we – myself and our team – have something to prove this year,” Kerr said.

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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.