Europe Easily Defeats US for Solheim Cup

By Sports NetworkSeptember 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- When American Rosie Jones conceded a seven-foot birdie putt to Catriona Matthew Sunday at the 17th hole, that gave the Scot a 3-and-1 victory and gave the European team the required 14 1/2 points to win the Solheim Cup.
 
Annika Sorenstam, the local favorite at Barsebck Golf & Country Club and World No. 1, set the table for Matthew's clinching point. A few minutes earlier, Sorenstam downed Solheim Cup rookie Angela Stanford, 3 and 2, to get the Europeans to 13 1/2 points.
 
Then it was up to Matthew, who had been controversially left off the last two European teams. Matthew knocked her approach to seven feet at 17 and when Jones missed a long birdie try, she walked over and conceded the point and the Cup to Europe.
 
'This is absolutely fantastic,' said European captain Catrin Nilsmark, who limped around on crutches all week thanks to a severe back injury. 'It has been a wonderful day and a wonderful week and I am so proud of my players and the way Sweden has hosted the event.'
 
'It rates up there for sure,' said Sorenstam. 'This crowd, I want to thank them all for coming, obviously for supporting us. It's been so great this week. It's a first-class tournament, first-class venue.'
 
Sorenstam has enjoyed an amazing 2003 campaign. She became the first women to compete on the PGA Tour in 58 years at the Colonial, completed the career Grand Slam with wins at the LPGA Championship and Women's British Open and now a spectacular Solheim Cup.
 
This was the third Solheim Cup victory for the European squad and its first since the 2000 staging at Loch Lomond.
 
The final score ended up with Europe claiming a 17 1/2 - 10 1/2 win, but not after some strange occurrences at the end of the event.
 
Once Matthew clinched the Cup for Europe, all other matches still on the course were conceded and the player ahead at the time of the concession received the full point. Some players weren't sure who conceded the match to whom or whether or not the matches were halved.
 
What it meant was that Cristie Kerr, who was 1-up through 15 holes against Suzann Pettersen, earned the full point for the U.S.
 
Laura Davies was ahead of Meg Mallon, Mhairi McKay was up on Beth Daniel and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc had the lead over Kelly Robbins in the anchor match so the Europeans took full points in those matches, which led to the lopsided score.
 
Laura Diaz, who missed a critical three-footer at 18 in Saturday's final fourball that would have earned a halve, atoned for the loss with a 5-and-4 drubbing of Germany's Elisabeth Esterl.
 
Sunday's single action came down to differing strategies by Nilsmark and American captain Patty Sheehan. Nilsmark owned a three-point lead heading into Sunday and stacked her lineup early. Sheehan went in a different direction as evidenced by the talented players who did not even get to complete their matches.
 
Advantage Nilsmark and Europe.
 
Janice Moodie seemingly made every putt all week and carried it over to Sunday when she dispatched American captain's pick Kelli Kuehne, 3 and 2, in the opening match.
 
Sophie Gustafson slaughtered Solheim Cup rookie and Sheehan's other pick Heather Bowie, 5 and 4. Iben Tinning of Denmark held on to beat Wendy Ward, 2 and 1, in a crucial match that ended on 17.
 
Then it was Sorenstam and Matthew, who shut the door on the Americans' chances at a historic comeback. No Solheim Cup team had ever overcome a two-point deficit with the singles to play and that record stayed intact.
 
Juli Inkster earned a convincing 5-and-4 win over Carin Koch in the second match and Michele Redman rallied to beat Spain's Ana Belen Sanchez, 2 and 1, for the Americans' only wins in the first seven matches.
 
'I take all the credit for losing today,' admitted Sheehan, who led the team to victory last year at Interlachen in Minnesota. 'I don't think I did such a good job on my lineup today. I probably should have put all the heavy hitters in the first seven or eight.'
 
After the Moodie, Gustafson and Inkster victories, things got tight for the Americans and it started with Ward. She had not played well all week and trailed 3-down around the turn.
 
Ward won the 11th with par and had a great chance to get 1-down at the 12th, but missed a five-footer for birdie. She eventually cut the margin to 1-down with a three-footer to win the 13th, but Tinning took over at No. 17.
 
Tinning drove into the right rough at 17 but fashioned a spectacular approach to two feet. Ward drove farther right at the hole and played her second into a greenside bunker. She blasted out to three feet, then missed the par save and conceded the match to Tinning.
 
'Iben played a pretty solid round of golf,' said Ward, who went 0-4 this year. 'She hit a heck of a shot in here on 17. I really wanted to make her have to make that putt.'
 
Redman came back to beat Sanchez, giving the U.S. a full point, but the writing was on the wall as Europe needed two points and both Sorenstam and Matthew were dormie.
 
Sorenstam flew out of the gate on Sunday with a 4-up lead through seven holes but Stanford hung tough. Stanford, who lost in a playoff for the U.S. Women's Open, won eight and nine with a birdie and par but Sorenstam won 10 when Stanford made a double-bogey.
 
Stanford won the 13th but Sorenstam holed an 18-footer for birdie and a win at 15. Sorenstam closed out the match one hole later and left Sweden with a 4-1 record.
 
'It was important to get the momentum going early and we did that,' said Sorenstam. 'The matches I played were very, very close and anything could have happened.'
 
Matthew overcame a 2-down deficit after two by not losing a hole the rest of the way. She won the 12th and seemed to match Jones with par every time it was needed.
 
'I was just so nervous coming down that last hole,' said Matthew. 'I knew it was kind of down to my game and I was trying to hit the green.'
 
Then all of the matches stopped, an unprecedented move since traditionally players complete the matches for pride. At last year's Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods and Jesper Parnevik played until the 18th when Europe had already won the Cup three matches earlier.
 
The U.S. now owns a 5-3 record in eight Solheim Cups and will have the chance to reclaim the Cup in 2005 at Crooked Stick near Indianapolis, Ind.
 
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    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

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    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 Web.com 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.


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    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."

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    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."