'There is no love lost': Inkster vs. Sorenstam

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2017, 7:14 pm

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – They’re giants of the game.

This Solheim Cup intrigues on a number of levels, but it starts at the top now that Suzann Pettersen is on the sidelines.

Annika Sorenstam vs. Juli Inkster.

They won’t hit a shot this week, but Europe’s Sorenstam and America’s Inkster do more than control the pieces on the game’s chessboard as captains here at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. They’re in charge of pairings, devising strategies and creating what they hope will be winning atmospheres.

While they respect each other and are intent on upholding the Solheim family’s honorable intentions creating this biennial international team event, they want to beat each other.

They’re both Hall of Famers, rivals from way back.

They’re highly competitive athletes, who don’t like losing, especially to each other.

“There’s a sense that there is no love lost between the two, that they're just from two completely different worlds in the way they live life, their philosophical approach to life, and playing golf,” said Kay Cockerill, a Golf Channel analyst and friend to Inkster. “I just think it's a very interesting dynamic between the two. It will be interesting if we see any kind of head bumping or intense conversations between the two, which could very well happen.”

It happened two years ago in Germany, but it ended up being overshadowed by the furor surrounding Pettersen and the lack of concession to Alison Lee, which fueled the United States’ historic comeback in singles.

Before that, there was Inkster’s Saturday showdown with Sorenstam over whether Sorenstam violated the captain’s agreement by giving advice to European players. Inkster and Sorenstam squared off in a heated discussion before the afternoon fourballs, with Sorenstam insisting she was wrongly accused. The agreement states that only captains can give advice during the competition. Sorenstam was a vice captain.

“I was extremely hurt,” Sorenstam said back then. “I knew the lesson from Colorado. I was insulted, and I addressed it with Juli.”


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Back in Colorado two years before that, Sorenstam was accused of relaying advice to a player through a European caddie.

“Juli is not a confrontational person,” said Pat Hurst, an American assistant captain and long-time friend to Inkster. “But Juli’s going to protect her team, stick up for her players, no matter what.”

Sorenstam was more of a loner on tour in her prime, with the distance she kept as a competitor helping to cultivate her intimidating aura.

Inkster was more approachable, immensely popular, someone who moved easily from one group to another on a practice range, teasing and prodding players and caddies alike.

Sorenstam dominated her era, which overlapped with Inkster’s. They were as different as players as they were as people.

Sorenstam, 46 was a big hitter, the cool Swede who won with cold precision, with an intimidating aura that felt like it gave her a two-shot lead before she reached the first tee.

She won 72 LPGA titles, more than anyone not named Kathy Whitworth (88) and Mickey Wright (82). She won 10 majors, more than everyone but Patty Berg (15) and Wright (13). She won with a sledgehammer.

Inkster, 57, won as much with grit as she did talent. She won 31 LPGA titles, seven majors.

While Sorenstam’s record towered over most anyone she stared down, there was no staring down Inkster.

“Juli is one of the few people that, probably, can show up Annika, and has shown her up on the golf course,” Cockerill said. “I think Annika really looks up to and admires Juli and respects her, and she’s, perhaps, one of the few people that could intimidate Annika.”

Sorenstam and Inkster played against each other in six Solheim Cups.

Inkster’s American teams won four of them.

Inkster was 2-0 vs. Sorenstam in those matches. She routed Annika 5 and 4 in the leadoff singles match in Scotland in 2000. She teamed with Beth Daniel to take down Sorenstam and Carin Koch, 1 up, in fourballs in 2003. That was the first time the Solheim Cup was played in Sweden, Sorenstam’s homeland.

Memorably, Inkster also denied Sorenstam a chance to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Prairie Dunes in 2002. Sorenstam took a two-shot lead into the final round, but Inkster put up a 66 on her and beat her by two shots.

It may be history, as they say, but history keeps score.

Sorenstam and Inkster are both champions, but they took such different paths to their trophies. It makes for a compelling back story in how they’ll shape a path to the trophy that is awaiting at this week’s end, the Solheim Cup.

The captain’s matchup adds to the heightening drama in these matches.

“The Solheim Cup’s intensity level has been increasing, and the rivalry has been getting bigger and more intense as the years have been going along,” said Golf Channel’s Karen Stupples, a two-time Solheim Cup player from England. “It’s the little things that happen during the course of the matches that forms big rivalries, and that makes it really interesting for the fans and spectators watching it on TV.”

Sorenstam and Inkster’s matchup makes it more compelling.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.