Play Nears Players Ready

By Rich LernerSeptember 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- Wendy Ward was trying to get a handle on why Americans -- men and women -- struggle in alternate shot.

'We never play it,' she began. 'Maybe the Europeans are more laid back where they can say, 'Hey, wherever you put it partner, I'll find it!''

In Friday morning foursomes, Ward will team with Juli Inkster against the Scottish tandem of Janice Moodie and Catriona Matthew. Moodie was brilliant at Loch Lomond but wrongly overlooked by last year's captain, Dale Reid, as an at-large selection. Moodie, who fits perfectly the phrase 'classy and sassy,' still sent the team a good luck letter, and it reduced even Reid to tears.

On paper, which is usually good for nothing in these matches, Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen appear to be overwhelming favorites to beat Laura Diaz and Solheim rookie Heather Bowie. But if the U.S. can steal a point or even a half in that contest, it could provide a huge early momentum swing.

'Heather and Laura are very good friends,' explained captain Patty Sheehan. 'And I know they feel comfortable playing with each other.'

Compatability is vital in foursomes, both in terms of playing style and personality. European captain Catrin Nilsmark paired Sorenstam with another long hitter, Petterson, and linked fun-loving Laura Davies with Carin Koch in a match against Beth Daniel and Kelly Robbins.

'Carin really likes a bit of a good time on the golf course, so it's a good combination from that aspect,' said Nilsmark.

Certainly, the Americans cannot afford to repeat the Day 1 disaster of three years ago when they got blanked in the opening session, 4 to nil. On foreign soil, with 25,000 partisans in the other corner, climbing out of that kind of deep hole is an almost impossible task.

As for those sitting out in the morning, there are other ways to contribute. Kelli Kuehne won't tee it up, but recounted a telling story from Interlachen a year ago, a tale which says a lot about why she's here when many thought Pat Hurst should have gotten the nod from captain Sheehan.

'I walked into the team room,' she remembers. 'And the walls were bare. There was no red, white and blue. Anywhere.'

She was fired up at this point just thinking back.

'So I said to Patty, 'I need some paint and some paper, some posters and streamers and some American flags.' Sure enough, Patty sent a runner to get the supplies.'

Sheehan recalls the moment with a smile, shaking her head in amazement. 'We get the stuff, and Kelli's in there by herself, puttin' it up all over the room. By herself!'

What did she put on the posters?

''Go like hell.' ' Stars and Stripes forever.' And 'USA is No. 1.''

Kuehne didn't get the call for this Friday's morning matches. But she did reprise her role as team room decorator.

That's the essence and spirit of The Solheim Cup. Professionals play for pride rather than pay.

Pressure? Mountains of it. But ask any lady who's been a part of it and they won't hesitate to tell you that if it were a match, this week fun beats pressure, 5 and 4.
It's not even close.
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

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    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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