Euros take lead on a crazy Day 1 of Solheim Cup

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2013, 2:17 am

PARKER, Colo. – Hold on to your breakfast.

That should have been the warning attached to the Solheim Cup tickets issued for Friday’s wild start to the biennial matches.

This day took so many dizzying twists and turns from start to finish before finally ending with Europe in command, 5-3.

It was one volatile ride for the Americans, who are looking to re-group and keep the Euros from winning these matches for the first time on American soil.

The day started with American Jessica Korda excusing herself at the first tee to barf up breakfast.

It started with fellow American Lizette Salas wiping away tears walking through the tunnel to the first tee with “USA” chants echoing across Colorado Golf Club. The joy and the pride Salas felt just being here on the American team burst through her after she hugged her parents, Mexican immigrants who sacrificed so much so she could chase her dreams here.

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It ended with Americans Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie flabbergasted when a shoving match broke out between a cameraman and a photographer as they were being interviewed after teaming brilliantly to win their afternoon fourballs to keep the Euros from racing too far ahead.

“It was bizarre,” Kerr said of the scuffle. “There was cursing, and some shoving, and the police coming over.”

This day ended with Stacy Lewis fuming, marching red-faced to the clubhouse angered by the drop Europe’s Carlota Ciganda got at the 15th hole after bombing her approach into a hazard. Ciganda’s remarkable save there helped her and Suzann Pettersen defeat Lewis and Lexi Thompson, 1 up. Lewis sternly made her case against the drop to a rules official after the match and then waved off a reporter’s questions as she marched to the clubhouse to cool off.

Lewis wore the frustrated face of this American team at day’s end. She embodied the exasperation of a struggling team in a harder spot now in its quest to win back the Solheim Cup after losing it two years ago in Ireland.

Lewis, No. 2 in the Rolex world rankings, was inexplicably shut out Friday, losing in both her morning foursomes and afternoon fourball matches. It was inexplicable because Lewis was so out of sorts most of the day, spraying shots and missing putts just 12 days after winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Now 1-5 in Solheim Cups, Lewis will be looking to regroup and find the form that has made her the best American in the game today.

“Stacy was upset about the day, because she was starting to turn her game around at that time,” U.S. captain Meg Mallon said. “She started playing well and to make some birdies. That’s my job now, to go back and get her refocused for tomorrow, which I’m sure she’s already there. She's a very bright person.” 

Lewis said the 25 minutes it took to make the ruling killed the American momentum in that match. 

'As far as moving on, the good thing is we are only two points down, and, if anything, this just gives everyone more motivation,' Lewis said.

The United States was wobbled early, with the Euros seizing three of the first four morning foursomes matches.

The Euros sent a message thumping the top three Americans in the world with Lewis, Paula Creamer and Kerr all getting shut out in the morning.

Europe’s Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher were the morning MVPs, taking down the formidable American pairing of Kerr and Creamer, 2 and 1. It only counted for one point, but it felt like more. It was the first time Kerr and Creamer lost in their four pairings together in Solheim Cups.

Kerr was asked if the first day’s outcome staggered the Americans.

“I don’t think so,” said Kerr, who got red hot making seven birdies in afternoon fourballs. “We have seen it before. We have to have a really strong day tomorrow to give us the momentum to go into singles. We are prepared to do it, no matter what it takes.”

Europe’s Pettersen reprised her role as this team’s spirited leader. She was 2-0 on the day. She teamed with Beatriz Recari in morning foursomes to defeat Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang, 2 and 1. She teamed with Ciganda in beating Lewis and Thompson in that afternoon fourballs that so infuriated Lewis.

“It just never gets old,” Pettersen said.

Caroline Hedwall was another force on the European side. She stiffed iron shots close and made a bushel basket full of putts in going 2-0.

The Americans' bright spots included the team of Morgan Pressel and Korda. They won the only American point in the morning, defeating Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, 3 and 2.

In the afternoon, Kerr and Wie were dominant, defeating Matthew and Charley Hull, 2 and 1. Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang won the other American point in fourballs, defeating Anna Nordqvist and Giulia Sergas, 4 and 3.

“I think, obviously, everyone is pretty disappointed,” Lang said. “A lot of girls are going to be fired up and ready to go tomorrow.”

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.