Euros Turn Tide Take Momentum

By Sports NetworkSeptember 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- At one point on Friday morning, it looked like the United States would take a commanding 3-1 lead into the afternoon four-balls at the Solheim Cup.
Then the Europeans stormed back and reversed the score, taking a 3-1 lead after Friday's foursomes matches.
Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen won five consecutive holes to erase a 4-down deficit and post a 1-up victory over the American tandem of Laura Diaz and Michele Redman.
Another U.S. team that squandered a huge lead was Pat Hurst and Christina Kim. They were 3-up, but the European pairing of Sophie Gustafson and Trish Johnson clawed back and earned a halve.
Paula Creamer and Beth Daniel, the youngest and oldest participants in the Solheim Cup, wasted a 2-up advantage and halved their match with Europeans Catriona Matthew and Carin Koch.
The only match Europe dominated from the beginning was Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth against Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis. The European side jumped out to a 3-up lead through six, but the Americans made it interesting late in the match. In the end, Europe walked off with a 2-and-1 win.
Diaz and Redman were 4-up after a win at the 12th hole, but Sorenstam got her team going with an amazing tee shot at the par-3 13th. She lipped out a 9-iron and was conceded birdie, which ended up winning the hole.
From there, the Europeans won the 14th with par despite Sorenstam knocking the team's second over the green. The No. 1 player in the world then chipped the team's third shot to 10 feet at the 15th, and Pettersen drained the birdie putt to draw within 1-down.
At the 16th, Sorenstam hit an approach 4 feet over the hole, while the Americans made a mess of the par-4. Redman drove into a fairway bunker, then Diaz hit their second in a trap near a green. Pettersen rolled in the birdie putt and now the match was all-square with two to play.
Sorenstam hit her tee ball to 35 feet at the par-3 17th, but it did not matter as Pettersen sank the long birdie try. Redman missed from 5 feet closer and now Europe was 1-up with one to go.
The two halved the 18th to give Europe the full point.
'We did what we had to do,' said Pettersen, who holed a long putt to win a fourball match with Sorenstam against Diaz on Saturday afternoon in 2003. 'Annika hit a super shot on 17 and it just happens.'
Hurst, last week's State Farm Classic winner, and Kim won the sixth and seventh to go 2-up. Hurst ran home a 15-footer for birdie at the 10th to extend the lead, but Europe benefited from American mistakes down the stretch.
Kim missed a 5-footer for par and the halve at 16, then missed from a shorter distance one hole later. The U.S. was 1-up until Johnson holed an 18-footer for birdie at the 17th to knot the match.
Neither Hurst nor Johnson found the fairway off the tee at 18, but Gustafson landed their approach 40 feet long. Kim ran through the green, but Hurst lagged her birdie try to 2 feet, a foot longer than Johnson's putt. Kim sank the putt and the Europeans' putt was conceded, so it was another halve.
'We've got to learn to close the door,' admitted Hurst. 'We played well, they played well and we had fun out there.'
In the opening match, the Americans won the seventh and eighth holes to move 2-up. The Europeans got within 1-down at the 15th when Matthew knocked the third shot inside a foot to set up a conceded birdie. Creamer tried to halve the hole, but her 20-footer from the fringe lipped out of the hole.
The European side squared the match at 17 when Daniel, one of Nancy Lopez's captain's picks, missed a 4-footer for par. At the 18th, Daniel hit the team's second into the front bunker, while Matthew knocked the Europeans' approach 30 feet right of the hole.
Creamer blasted out to 4 feet, the exact length of putt that Daniel missed one hole earlier. Koch ran her birdie try 3 feet past. Daniel converted the par save, as did Matthew, and the sides walked off with a halve.
'I feel like we played really well. We gave ourselves so many opportunities,' said Daniel. 'We shot 2 under par today. It was just a really good match.'
Kerr and Gulbis struggled out of the gate on Friday as Gulbis, one of three rookies on the American side, missed a 3-footer that could have won the second hole. The Europeans moved 3-up through six holes, then the teams traded wins until Davies and Hjorth were 4-up with four to go.
The Americans won No. 15, then when Davies drove well left of the fairway at 16, the U.S. team found itself 2-down. The teams halved 17 with par to end the match.
Friday afternoon will feature four fourball matches. Americans Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon come off the bench to face Hjorth and Iben Tinning. Kerr and Gulbis are back to meet Gustafson and Karen Stupples, Hurst and Wendy Ward are facing Sorenstam and Matthew, then Juli Inkster plays for the first time with Creamer against Davies and Pettersen.
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

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    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.