Bunker Shots Solheim Cup

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupWith the Solheim Cup at hand, we set the storylines for the week with the help of strong womens wisdom.
 
Its no fun to be favored this season
 
My passions were all gathered like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose. ' Actress Bette Davis (1908-89)
 
The U.S. Solheim Cup team is an overwhelming favorite against Europe this week.
 
That ought to scare American captain Beth Daniel.
 
The way this year in golf is going, the U.S. team uniforms ought to be fitted with targets on the backs.
 
In this year of the spoiler we were just witness to one of the greatest upsets in the history of golf. Y.E. Yang played the ultimate spoiler in his victory against Tiger Woods Sunday at the PGA Championship.
 
The Americans are at home with the Solheim Cup to be played Friday through Sunday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The United States is 7-3 in Solheim Cups and has never lost at home (5-0).
 
No American on the 12-woman roster is ranked lower than No. 51 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings. Thats double the number of Europeans within the top 51. A third of the European roster isnt even among the top 100 in the world. Though Scotlands Catriona Matthew won the Ricoh Womens British Open, the European depth was exposed there when the top three players on the Ladies European Tour team points list all failed to make the cut. Frances Gwladys Nocera, Italys Diana Luna and Spains Tania Elosegui were cumulatively 55-over par in the seasons final major.
 
What the Solheim Cup needs . . .
 
Its not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over. ' Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
 
Theres pressure on Europe this week to win the Solheim Cup for first time on American soil.
 
Theres also pressure just to make the matches relevant.
 
With the Americans heavily favored, with media already grousing that the event needs to be revised to bring top players from other parts of the world into the mix, the last thing the Solheim Cup needs is for the Americans to jump to a quick start and win in a rout.
 
Of course, as the American leader, the last thing Daniel wants to hear is that these matches need an upset, but that would put a giant jolt back into the event.
 
The Ryder Cup was in this same spot not so long ago with Americans dominating that event. The United States had won 13 consecutive Ryder Cups when a new breed of European players sparked a 16 to 11 upset in 1985. Spains Seve Ballesteros, Englands Nick Faldo and Germanys Bernhard Langer helped change the nature of the competition to the point where the Americans were actually the underdog when they upset Europe at Valhalla last year. The competition was expanded from Great Britain/Ireland to all of Europe in 1979.
 
Of course, the Solheim Cup is a match-play event, from alternate-shot to four balls to singles. With match play a format that suits underdogs and upsets, Europe shouldnt be discounted too easily.
 
I do not believe this is going to be as lopsided as some people predict it will be, Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper said. I believe Alison Nicholas has a much stronger and deeper team than most people think. I think she got the help she needed from two particular players: Laura Davies, who added an event on her schedule, so she didn't force her captain to have to pick her, and also Catriona Matthew, obviously winning the Women's British Open last week, solidified her spot. She had two veteran players she didn't have to use as picks. I think it allowed her to fill out her team the way she did in a very good way. I don't think its going to be the runaway that so many people think it would be on paper.
 
American Pepper-ing at the Solheim Cup
 
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ' Author and activist Helen Keller (1880-1968)
 
Dottie Peppers strong link to the Solheim Cup goes beyond her impressive 5-1 record in singles.
 
If you Google Peppers name, the second item that pops up is YouTubes replay of her Chokin Freaking Dogs comment during the American victory in Sweden two years ago. She made the comment after American Sherri Steinhauer missed a short putt at the 18th hole in foursomes that allowed the Europeans to halve the match. The comment made it onto airwaves after an audio man failed to cut the microphones during a delay going to a commercial. It created a furor within the American teams ranks.
 
With Pepper headed back to the TV booth for Golf Channels Solheim Cup telecast this week, she understands media will revisit the issue.
 
We were in a commercial break, for I believe, YouTube says it's now 6.5 seconds, Pepper said. My niece was quick to bring it up,`Dot Dot, you're on YouTube. Not exactly the way I wanted to make it there. It's pretty obvious we were in a break. Yeah, my passion bled through. As a journalist, you have to take yourself out of the player's mode. In a break, I'm rooting as hard as I can for the American team. I'm a passionate sports buff. When I saw the American team really back pedaling, losing control of the matches, I said what I said. I didn't hide from it. If the players wanted to chew me out, they did. If they elected to handle it differently, they did that, too. I didn't run or hide from it. I stand by what I said. Certainly hope our audio is a little better next time.
 
American captain Beth Daniel was an assistant captain under Betsy King when Peppers comments became an issue.
 
Lets just say nobodys forgotten it, Daniel said. I know she didnt mean for it to be on the air, and I understand it was total emotion, but it was very hurtful to the team. I happened to be standing right on the green when Sherri hit the putt. I thought it was an excellent putt. I dont think it was really relayed how difficult the conditions were, how cold and chilly it was with 40 mph winds. You could have missed a 2-footer on a day like that. Ive come to terms with it. Its time to move on.
 
Steinhauer, whos recuperating from a pair of hip replacement surgeries, is the vice president of the LPGA Board of Directors and will attend this weeks event. She says she hasnt crossed paths with Pepper since the comment was aired.
 
Dotties who she is, and Ill leave it at that, Steinhauer said. Shes feisty, and Im feisty.
 
Getting in playoff position at the Wyndham
 
There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness and death. 'Author Fran Lebowitz
 
The Wyndham Championship offers PGA Tour pros their last chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, or to improve their point position for a playoff run.
 
The top 125 in FedEx Cup points earn spots at The Barclays in next weeks start to the PGA Tour Playoffs.
 
If they started this week, the Wyndhams defending champion wouldnt be playing in them.
 
Carl Pettersson, who beat Scott McCarron by two shots at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to win Wyndham last year, is 151st in FedEx Cup points. He needs at least a solo 10th place finish to have a shot at cracking the top 125. Andres Romero holds the 125th spot, but he isnt in the field this week.
 
Other notable players outside the top 125 who are looking to play their way into the playoffs include Stuart Appleby (138th in points), Rocco Mediate (143rd) and David Duval (149th).
 
Big names searching for big turnarounds
 
Im in love with the potential of miracles. For me, the safest place is out on a limb. 'Actress Shirley MacLaine
 
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and John Daly are all in the Wyndham Championship field.
 
Garcia and Scott are suffering through down seasons and are barely qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Garcia may be No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but hes just 115th in FedEx Cup points. Scott is 111th in points. Daly's last two events include a missed cut at the Buick Open and then a withdrawal following the first round of the PGA Championship citing a bad back.
 
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.
 
Related Links:
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.