Captains Loose If Not Entirely Healthy

By Rich LernerSeptember 10, 2003, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Rich Lerner is anchoring The Golf Channel's coverage of the 2003 Solheim Cup.
Patty Sheehan stood on the range under an umbrella with assistant captain Jane Geddes, the rain as steady as it had been when it first started around mid-morning. In the distance, a soupy gray shrouded the Oresund. Across that body of water on Tuesday you could see Copenhagen. Today it was invisible.

'We've been wandering in the rain,' laughed Sheehan when asked about her day.

'Everybody getting comfortable?' I wondered.

'I know I'm comfortable because I don't have to play,' she cracked, refusing to turn this week's proceedings into any kind of major melodrama.

On the other hand, comfort's a luxury that her counterpart, Catrin Nilsmark, has experienced precious little of in recent weeks. What was supposed to be a glorious period leading the Europeans on her native Swedish soil has instead become an agonizing stretch because of a ruptured disc in her back. She spent eight days in the hospital, often times in excruciating pain.

Her mobility's limited. She walks gingerly with the aid of crutches. Vice-captain Allison Nicholas handles many of the on-course duties in her stead, Nilsmark reduced to conveying her thoughts to her players around the putting green, the first tee, and of course, in the team room.

It's there that her quick wit and sharp tongue could prove most invaluable in easing the inevitable pressure on her team. A reporter asked if she's on some medication to help her get around. It was then that the woman who nearly incited an international sporting incident by deriding American players last year unleashed her first zinger of the week.

'A bit of a mixture of LSD and morphine and cocaine,' Nilsmark retorted.

In truth, she did need morphine while laid up, so debilitating was the pain, which only began to subside earlier this week.

'I did have a dramatic improvement yesterday,' she explained. 'I'm feeling a lot better. To say that I'm happy is an understatement.'

Annika Sorenstam said of her captain, 'She just wants us to play good golf and not worry. We're more worried than she is.'

Despite her limitations, Nilsmark was able to give her team what many feel is an edge even before the first ball is in the air. She did it with the setup of the Barsebck golf course.

'The thing I noticed the most is they cut all the rough out,' said Meg Mallon.

How does that help the Europeans? Well, the Euros have the longest hitters - Laura Davies, Sorenstam, Sophie Gustafson and Suzanne Petterson - and they can swing away with impunity, knowing that a wayward tee ball won't land them in terribly penal rough.

'No doubt,' emphasized Juli Inkster when asked if the layout favored the Europeans. 'But that's home turf. You play to your strengths.'

'That's a fair statement,' agreed Nilsmark, acknowledging that she used the home captain's prerogative to set up the course any way she likes. 'Our players just aren't used to the kind of rough you see in the States.'

In any event, the U.S. seems unfazed, comfortable in the role of underdog.

'This is the most relaxed I've seen our team,' said Inkster. 'We had a great dinner last night and we told lots of stories. It's funny to see the faces of Angela and Heather, the rookies, as they listen to the vets. Their eyes are just wide open, like, 'This is so cool'!'

Today, despite the rains, most of the players did get in the full 18 holes of practice.

'We're getting antsy,' said Sheehan. 'We're ready to get on with the matches.'

As for the pairings, neither captain's tipping their hand. The announcements come Thursday at 8 AM Eastern Time.

'I'm pretty solid on what I'm thinking,' offered Sheehan. She did add, though, that 'Some things came up today that changed my mind, so we're still in flux.'

The Europeans spent their practice time focusing on singles play, their Achilles' Heel through the years.

'To win here, we have to play well in singles,' explained Sorenstam. 'We've practiced singles this week.'

As Sorenstam spoke to the press inside the media center, the rain continued. A soggy day nearing an end, most of the players had repaired to their quarters for some rest. Nightfall would find them at the gala dinner.

By Thursday, the rains are expected to subside, giving way to a pleasant weekend. But the prevailing sense on this Wednesday is that if the pain stalking the European captain could just make like the rain and go away, then all will be well in Sweden.
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    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 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.