Solheim Cup Polishing

By Randall MellAugust 3, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupThe grumbling is growing louder.
 
U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel acknowledges that she hears it, and it disturbs her.
 
The Solheim Cup is becoming a strictly Off Broadway affair. The United States vs. Europe feels like a consolation bracket with so many of the worlds best international players excluded and Swedens Annika Sorenstam now in retirement. The world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa of Mexico wont be there and neither will the most dominant force in womens golf ' the Asians. Not to mention the resurgent Aussies, who have three of the top 20 players in the world rankings, will be noticeably absent.
 
These sentiments are sure to lead to more media grousing that the Solheim Cup needs a makeover to broaden its appeal and create a grander stage to showcase the best in womens golf as the Aug. 21-23 international team competition nears at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
 
Such grumbling gets the dander up on the ultra competitive Daniel.
 
It does a little bit, she said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lancashire, England, where the Solheim Cup teams were presented. This is the competition Karsten Solheim wanted because of his Norwegian roots, a competition like the Ryder Cup.
 
These things go in cycles. Europe has some good, young players who will be good players, but right now, on paper, our team looks very, very strong. In two years, that could change.
 
Daniel didnt choose her two captains picks Sunday ' Michelle Wie and Juli Inkster ' because they create buzz, but the picks do help escalate interest.
 
The event needs good storylines to fuel interest beyond its traditional golf audience the way the Ryder Cup does.
 
Like her or not, Wie, 19, remains a lightning rod in womens golf, a spectacle who amps up TV ratings and gate receipts.
 
The Hall of Famer Inkster, 49, will be a focal point as the oldest player in the history of the competition who is likely playing her final Solheim Cup.
 
It also helps the event that Scotlands Catriona Matthew won the Ricoh Womens British Open because Europe looked downright sickly with its top three point-winners off the Ladies European Tour Solheim Cup standings missing the cut with dreadful showings at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
 
Frances Gwladys Nocera, Spains Tania Elosegui and Italys Diana Luna were cumulatively 55-over par after two rounds of the seasons last major.
 
Nocera couldnt break 90 in the first round. Elosegui and Luna both failed to break 80 in the second round.
 
These dismal failures threaten the credibility of the competition.
 
So does the fact that the Americans have dominated it.
 
The United States leads the Solheim Cup series 7-3 and has never lost on American soil (5-0). The Americans won in a 16-12 rout in Sweden the last time the event was staged.
 
Make no mistake, we are up against it, said Englands Laura Davies, who will make her 11th appearance as the only player to compete in every Solheim Cup.
 
Matthews victory helps build some much needed momentum for the team competition.
 
As overmatched as the Europeans look on paper, at least they have two LPGA titles this summer, both major championships with Swedens Anna Nordqvist winning the McDonalds LPGA Championship in June.
 
Brittany Lincicomes victory at the Kraft Nabisco is the only major championship title won by an American in the last nine played.
 
Europeans have won seven of the last 21 majors, equaling the number won by Asians. The Americans have won four in that span.
 
Americans have gone the last three months without a victory, nine LPGA events without a title. Cristie Kerr was the last American to win when she hoisted the trophy at the Michelob Ultra Open on May 10. If a non-American wins the next LPGA event, it will equal the longest American drought in any season in the 59-year history of the LPGA. With Sorenstam at the height of her powers, international players won the last 10 events of the 2002 LPGA season.
 
The Asians are on a roll having won seven of the last nine LPGA events.
 
Daniels right about these international team events working in cycles, but she probably doesnt want to hear that what the Solheim Cup needs is an upset.
 
When Europe turned the Ryder Cup around, it jolted new interest in the event.
 
The Americans 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.
 
While there is sure to be more grousing that the Solheim Cup needs to be expanded to include more of the worlds golf powers, there will be pushback, too.
 
To be honest, if they change it that way, it will be the end of the Solheim Cup, Davies said. Its Europe against America. Thats what the Solheim Cup is. If you try to bring internationals under one flag, it wont work. Europes a continent. If you make it international, a mish-mash of continents, there is no flag to fly. You couldnt come together as a team, and it wouldnt make sense. People wouldnt get it.
 
It has been suggested that new teams be given a chance, that an Asian team be brought into the mix, or an international team outside Europe and the United States.
 
Those suggestions wont end until the U.S. vs. Europe becomes so compelling nobody cares whos left out.
 
In that regard, as Davies says, Europes up against it with something to prove on American soil.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

    Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.