Lighting the Solheim fire

By Randall MellAugust 23, 2011, 8:45 pm

Christina Kim did a little Solheim Cup dance Sunday in Oregon after the Safeway Classic, but nobody complained she was indulging in an excessive celebration.

She danced in her hotel room where nobody could see.

Tenth on the American points list, Kim survived a nerve-racking wait at Safeway to hold on to the final automatic qualifying spot and make her third U.S. Solheim Cup team. Given how she’s struggled to find her form this year, Kim was relieved she didn’t have to depend on being a captain’s pick. She held her breath with Vicky Hurst making a Sunday charge that could have bumped her off the team.

“I was in my hotel room looking at scores, hitting the refresh button on my cell phone every 20 seconds,” Kim told GolfChannel.com. “It was terrifying. I screamed when I knew I had made it, and, I probably did a little dance.”

Kim loves the Solheim Cup, and she loves playing for her country. She sports a formidable 5-2-1 record in the competition, where her passion made her a controversial focal point in the American victory at Rich Harvest Farms two years ago.

With Kim’s fiery celebrations drawing criticism from the Europeans in ‘09, she promises to be one of the lead storylines at Killeen Castle in Ireland in her first Solheim Cup road trip. Both of Kim’s previous appearances in the matches have come on American soil.

In ’09, Kim’s exuberance while teamed with Michelle Wie got the most attention from observers who thought she was over the top.

Mark Reason of the The Daily Telegraph of London wrote: “The two-faced dog of jingoism and triumphalism ripped at the throat of Europe’s players as Kim whipped it on with unrestrained glee . . . Goodness knows what Lee Westwood might have made of it all. He would probably have taken Kim’s wedge and shoved it up her beret.”

John Huggan, a Golf Digest European correspondent, weighed in: “At the risk of being portrayed as a bit of a fuddy-duddy, it must be pointed out that Kim, on occasion, veers into a place where opponents are – however inadvertently – treated with something less than proper respect.”

Even American TV analyst Dottie Pepper chastised Kim in a column she wrote for Golf.com after that Solheim Cup: “I know Christina Kim loves the galleries and is a ham, but she should be a little more respectful of the game. In the NFL, she’d have been given 18 excessive celebration penalties.”

Given the criticism, should we expect Kim to take a toned-down approach to Europe?

“If I change the way I am, I’ll probably have a lot of pent-up energy,” Kim said. “If I don’t release it, it will probably be a bad thing. I’m just going to be me. If I’m loud and jumping up and down, I’m loud and jumping up and down. It just depends on the moment.

“There will probably be moments where I’m so focused, I have to remind myself to breathe. There will be other moments where I’m so overwhelmed with emotion, I’ll let out a roar.”

Kim wants to make it clear she doesn’t believe she was over the top in her reactions to shots two years ago. She doesn’t believe she crossed a sportsmanship line.

“We have a lot of really fiery players on our team, and I think electricity will circulate through all the matches,” Kim said. “I don’t think I will be any, quote-unquote, leader of the pack in a cheerleading sense. I didn’t think I was last time. Everyone was very exuberant and passionate about representing her country.

“The thing is, what people don’t understand, is that when I celebrate, it’s to celebrate the execution of a great golf shot. I’m not celebrating anyone down.”

Kim, 27, said critics overlook that she was also exuberant in acknowledging her competition’s outstanding shots. In the match that drew so much attention, Kim points out she showed excitement congratulating opponents for outstanding shots. She specifically cited lauding Europe’s Tania Elosegui when she won a hole with an eagle and fist-pumping for her when she stuffed an iron shot to 4 feet at the 17th hole in that controversial Saturday four-ball match.

“There was a lot of misconception about what went on, and there were a lot of things said that really hurt me,” Kim said.

Kim wants to celebrate great shots in Ireland, and she’s working to have her form ready to do just that.

“I’ve struggled off the tee, but I feel like I’m striking the ball better,” she said. “Everything’s close to being really, really good, but it’s been so damn frustrating.”

A U.S. Solheim Cup victory would remedy that.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.