Europe Dominates Foursomes Again

By Sports NetworkSeptember 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- Europe claimed three of four points in Saturday's foursomes matches to extend their lead at the Solheim Cup. The European side owns a 7 1/2 - 4 1/2 advantage at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
 
Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch avenged their loss Friday afternoon by beating Heather Bowie and Wendy Ward, 3 and 2, on Saturday.
 
The Swedish duo lost 1-up in a Friday fourball match against Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel for their first loss as a team in two Solheim Cups, but the hometown favorites claimed their revenge Saturday morning.
 
The match was close through the front nine but the Europeans won three holes out of four around the turn. The Americans got one back at 14 thanks to a European bogey but the match ended when Sorenstam and Koch parred No. 16.
 
'I think our game really fits this type of format,' said Sorenstam. 'Carin and I get along so well. If I didn't hit it good, then she would hit it good. It was fun to win.'
 
Sorenstam and Koch might have benefited from the huge crowds that have gathered at Barsebck. There are 30,000 tickets sold for Saturday's action and aside from cheering on their countrywomen, the galleries were treated to some exciting golf Saturday morning, which was enhanced by strong winds kicking up around the course.
 
The young European tandem of Elisabeth Esterl and Iben Tinning halved their match with Solheim Cup rookie and U.S. Women's Open runner-up Angela Stanford and Michele Redman.
 
In the anchor match, Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins went the full 18 holes with the Scottish duo of Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie. The teams halved their match as neither could cash in on birdie tries at the last.
 
The first match of the day went to the Europeans. Suzann Pettersen ran her record in this year's competition to 3-0 as she and Sophie Gustafson bested the American pair of Cristie Kerr and Kelli Kuehne, 2 and 1.
 
Esterl and Tinning took a 1-up lead when the rookie Stanford missed a two- footer to halve the 14th but Tinning missed a slightly longer putt at 15 that squared the match.
 
Stanford atoned for the mishap at 14 when she sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole to reclaim a 1-up advantage but that was quick lived. Esterl, a 27-year-old German, knocked the team's approach to inches at the 17th. The U.S. conceded her birdie then missed their putt to see the match evened up on 18.
 
Tinning left the team's second shot 45 feet short of the hole at 18 while Stanford hit her's 15 feet below the cup. Esterl blew the birdie try four feet past while Redman lagged her birdie putt close enough the Europeans gave the Americans their par. Tinning stroked home the tester and earned the half point.
 
'It was great match,' said Redman. 'We both played great, the Europeans played great. We had a tough match out there today.'
 
Saturday morning's final match saw the U.S. pull even at the par-5 12th when the Europeans made a mess of the hole. Europe reclaimed a 1-up lead at the next hole when Moodie converted on a three-footer for birdie.
 
Moodie missed a 15-footer for par at the 15th and Robbins ran home a four-footer to square the match. Matthew knocked the team's third shot at the par-5 16th to five feet to set up birdie but before Moodie holed the putt, Robbins knocked in an 18-footer to halve the hole and move to No. 17.
 
The Americans looked to be in trouble at 17 when Mallon missed the green right with the team's approach. Robbins' chip hit the stick and settled inches from the cup for the conceded par. Matthew sank a three-footer for par of their own and it was on to 18 with the match all-square.
 
Neither Robbins nor Moodie hit spectacular approaches to No. 18, with Robbins 35 feet short of the hole and Moodie about 10 feet closer. Mallon struck a good putt and was conceded par while Matthew left around two feet for their team's par.
 
Robbins and Mallon conceded the tricky putt and each team left with a half point.
 
'We would have liked to get a full point out of this but that was a tough match,' said Mallon. 'We know what happens here. It's important this afternoon to get some points on the board and then it's all about tomorrow.'
 
Pettersen and Gustafson went 3-up after a birdie at 12 but Kerr and Kuehne clawed back into the match. Kuehne and Kerr each holed birdie putts at 13 and 14 to get 1-down but Pettersen shut the door on the match with an eight-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
 
'You have to stay in there and take it shot by shot,' said Pettersen. 'Every putt is important.'
 
There are four fourball matches Saturday afternoon then 12 singles matches on Sunday. The U.S., as defending champions, need 14 points to retain the Solheim Cup while Europe needs 14 1/2 to win it.
 
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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.