U.S. Solheim qualifying complete; captain's picks Monday

By Randall MellAugust 24, 2015, 3:02 am

It’s all about the captain’s picks now.

And most of the intrigue is whether U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster will make a slumping Paula Creamer one of her two picks Monday to fill out the American team that will meet Europe in Germany next month. The United States will head to St. Leon-Rot Golf Club looking to turn around its fortunes after losing the last two Solheim Cups.

The American team’s 10 qualifiers were finalized Sunday night at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open with no significant changes.

Gerina Piller held down the final spot on the American points list, and Alison Lee and Lizette Salas nailed down the two spots on the world rankings list.

Inkster will announce her two picks in a Golf Channel Solheim Cup show Monday at 7 p.m.

Inkster is faced with some tough choices with Creamer among four Solheim Cup veterans who didn’t qualify for the team. Brittany Lang, Jessica Korda and Christina Kim are also Solheim Cup veterans who didn’t meet the qualifying standard. They’re on the short list of candidates for captain’s picks along with Mo Martin and Austin Ernst.

Creamer, 29, is a five-time Solheim Cup player who boasts an impressive 12-6-5 record in the matches. Inkster and Creamer share a strong Solheim Cup bond. They were a formidable duo early in Creamer’s career. They were 3-2-1 as partners. Creamer, however, has struggled much of this season. She shot 81 Friday to miss the cut at Canadian Women’s Open, her third consecutive missed cut.

Korda, 22, made the cut at the Canadian Women’s Open, tying for 32nd, but she has battled elbow soreness this summer and had made just one cut in her previous six events heading to Canada. She played in her first Solheim Cup two years ago in Colorado.

Lang, 30, missed the cut in Canada but has had a solid summer. She’s 5-4-2 in three Solheim Cups.

Kim, 31, tied for 65th in Canada. She won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational late last year, her first title in nine years. She’s 6-2-2 in three Solheim Cups.

Martin, 32, hasn’t played in a Solheim Cup but won the Women’s British Open last year. She tied for 25th in Canada and tied for fifth in Portland last week. Martin has had a solid summer and appears to be recovered from the thumb injury that plagued her late last year and earlier this season.

Ernst, 23, also hasn’t played in a Solheim Cup. She won the Portland Classic for her first LPGA title last year and has had a consistent summer getting into contention for a Solheim spot.

Nine of the 10 American qualifiers this year played on the American team that lost in Colorado in 2013. Lee, an LPGA rookie, is the only new face among the American qualifiers.

Here are the Americans who secured automatic qualifier spots Sunday:

U.S. SOLHEIM CUP POINTS LIST

1 Stacy Lewis

2 Lexi Thompson

3 Cristie Kerr

4 Michelle Wie

5 Brittany Lincicome

6 Morgan Pressel

7 Angela Stanford

8 Gerina Piller

U.S. SOLHEIM CUP WORLD RANKINGS LIST

1 Alison Lee

2 Lizette Salas

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.