Earned Not Just Given

By Randall MellAugust 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupRookie Michelle Wie earned her way onto the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
The American point standings may not say so, but U.S. captain Beth Daniels heart told her as much.
Named Sunday as one of Daniels two captains picks for the Solheim Cup matches Aug. 21-23 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., Wie adds star power to the event as one of the games largest draws, but Daniel insists Wies ability to boost TV and gate attractions isnt the reason she selected her.
Those things had nothing to do with it, Daniel said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lancashire , England, site of the Ricoh Womens British Open. I told everyone that in my mind she earned her way onto the team. If someone had told me to pick Michelle Wie, it would have had no influence over me. I looked at all the stats and whats best for the team. As captain, its my responsibility to field the best 12 players I can.
Wie, 19, joined Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, 49, as captains picks.
Wie finished 13th on the final U.S. Solheim Cup points standings, notable because as a rookie she had just this season to earn her points in the two-year Solheim Cup cycle. Wie was sixth among Americans in points earned this year. Wies five top-10 finishes were better than any other player in contention for a captains pick. Daniel said Wies LPGA ranking this season as No. 1 in birdie average and co-No. 1 in putting also were factors.
It was one of my biggest goals this year, and I'm just so excited to be wearing this jacket and this hat and to be representing my country, Wie said during the announcement. Its such a thrill for me. I'm just so honored and so thankful that Beth picked me, and I'll do my best not to let her down.
Paula Creamer was the leading point earner among the 10 Americans who earned automatic roster spots. Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel , Kristy McPherson, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis earned the other spots.
Wie joins Lang and McPherson as Solheim Cup rookies.
We have some experience in the Solheim Cup on this team, but in terms of age, we have a very young team, Daniel said. And to me, that's really exciting, because this is the future of American golf, and it's a pretty exciting future.
Inkster will be the oldest competitor in Solheim Cup history. Throw her out, and the average age of the American squad is 26.0.
Daniels two captains picks were about youthful firepower and savvy veteran leadership.
While Inkster hasnt recorded a top-10 finish this season, she brings a wealth of experience as a 31-time LPGA winner whose 14-8-5 record in seven Solheim Cups gives her more victories than any American in the history of the event. Her 16 points equals Meg Mallon for most among Americans.
Juli brings so many intangibles, Daniel said. Shes respected by the kids on the team, and she has so much match-play knowledge. She also brings leadership qualities.
In choosing Wie and Inkster , Daniel skipped over Solheim Cup veteran Pat Hurst, who won the MasterCard Classic in March. Hurst , though, went cold this summer, failing to finish better than a tie for 40th in her last 10 starts.
It was unbelievably tough to leave Pat off, and it just killed me, Daniel said. Definitely, this was the worst part of the job.
The United States , which has never lost the Solheim Cup on its home soil (5-0), will be heavily favored against the Europeans. The Americans have eight players ranked among the top 30 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, twice as many as the Europeans.
European Captain Alison Nicholas squad will feature Norways Suzann Pettersen as its highest ranked player at No. 6 in the world rankings.
Englands Laura Davies will tee it up for the 11th time in the Solheim Cup, making her the only player to compete in every Solheim Cup staged. Shes the events all-time leading point winner with 23 points.
Swedens Helen Alfredsson earned her eighth Solheim Cup appearance off the world rankings list, her seventh appearance as a player. She is the first in Solheim Cup history to make the team as a player after serving as captain. Alfredsson was captain when Europe fell two years ago in Sweden .
Frances Gwladys Nocera , Spains Tania Elosegui, Italys Diana Luna and Swedens Sophie Gustafson made the team off the Ladies European Tour points list. Scotlands Catriona Matthew, winner of Sundays Ricoh Womens British Open, and Swedens Maria Hjorth made the team off the world rankings list.
Nicholas named Swedens Anna Nordqvist, Scotlands Janice Moodie and Wales Becky Brewerton as her three captains picks. Nordqvist won the McDonalds LPGA Championship in June.
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”