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.
Related Links:
  • Golf Channel Tournament Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Getty Images

    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.