Its no fun to be favored this season
My passions were all gathered like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose. ' Actress Bette Davis (1908-89)
The U.S. Solheim Cup team is an overwhelming favorite against Europe this week.
That ought to scare American captain Beth Daniel.
The way this year in golf is going, the U.S. team uniforms ought to be fitted with targets on the backs.
In this year of the spoiler we were just witness to one of the greatest upsets in the history of golf. Y.E. Yang played the ultimate spoiler in his victory against Tiger Woods Sunday at the PGA Championship.
The Americans are at home with the Solheim Cup to be played Friday through Sunday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The United States is 7-3 in Solheim Cups and has never lost at home (5-0).
No American on the 12-woman roster is ranked lower than No. 51 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings. Thats double the number of Europeans within the top 51. A third of the European roster isnt even among the top 100 in the world. Though Scotlands Catriona Matthew won the Ricoh Womens British Open, the European depth was exposed there when the top three players on the Ladies European Tour team points list all failed to make the cut. Frances Gwladys Nocera, Italys Diana Luna and Spains Tania Elosegui were cumulatively 55-over par in the seasons final major.
What the Solheim Cup needs . . .
Its not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over. ' Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Theres pressure on Europe this week to win the Solheim Cup for first time on American soil.
Theres also pressure just to make the matches relevant.
With the Americans heavily favored, with media already grousing that the event needs to be revised to bring top players from other parts of the world into the mix, the last thing the Solheim Cup needs is for the Americans to jump to a quick start and win in a rout.
Of course, as the American leader, the last thing Daniel wants to hear is that these matches need an upset, but that would put a giant jolt back into the event.
The Ryder Cup was in this same spot not so long ago with Americans dominating that event. The United States had won 13 consecutive Ryder Cups when a new breed of European players sparked a 16 to 11 upset in 1985. Spains Seve Ballesteros, Englands Nick Faldo and Germanys Bernhard Langer helped change the nature of the competition to the point where the Americans were actually the underdog when they upset Europe at Valhalla last year. The competition was expanded from Great Britain/Ireland to all of Europe in 1979.
Of course, the Solheim Cup is a match-play event, from alternate-shot to four balls to singles. With match play a format that suits underdogs and upsets, Europe shouldnt be discounted too easily.
I do not believe this is going to be as lopsided as some people predict it will be, Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper said. I believe Alison Nicholas has a much stronger and deeper team than most people think. I think she got the help she needed from two particular players: Laura Davies, who added an event on her schedule, so she didn't force her captain to have to pick her, and also Catriona Matthew, obviously winning the Women's British Open last week, solidified her spot. She had two veteran players she didn't have to use as picks. I think it allowed her to fill out her team the way she did in a very good way. I don't think its going to be the runaway that so many people think it would be on paper.
American Pepper-ing at the Solheim Cup
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ' Author and activist Helen Keller (1880-1968)
Dottie Peppers strong link to the Solheim Cup goes beyond her impressive 5-1 record in singles.
If you Google Peppers name, the second item that pops up is YouTubes replay of her Chokin Freaking Dogs comment during the American victory in Sweden two years ago. She made the comment after American Sherri Steinhauer missed a short putt at the 18th hole in foursomes that allowed the Europeans to halve the match. The comment made it onto airwaves after an audio man failed to cut the microphones during a delay going to a commercial. It created a furor within the American teams ranks.
With Pepper headed back to the TV booth for Golf Channels Solheim Cup telecast this week, she understands media will revisit the issue.
We were in a commercial break, for I believe, YouTube says it's now 6.5 seconds, Pepper said. My niece was quick to bring it up,`Dot Dot, you're on YouTube. Not exactly the way I wanted to make it there. It's pretty obvious we were in a break. Yeah, my passion bled through. As a journalist, you have to take yourself out of the player's mode. In a break, I'm rooting as hard as I can for the American team. I'm a passionate sports buff. When I saw the American team really back pedaling, losing control of the matches, I said what I said. I didn't hide from it. If the players wanted to chew me out, they did. If they elected to handle it differently, they did that, too. I didn't run or hide from it. I stand by what I said. Certainly hope our audio is a little better next time.
American captain Beth Daniel was an assistant captain under Betsy King when Peppers comments became an issue.
Lets just say nobodys forgotten it, Daniel said. I know she didnt mean for it to be on the air, and I understand it was total emotion, but it was very hurtful to the team. I happened to be standing right on the green when Sherri hit the putt. I thought it was an excellent putt. I dont think it was really relayed how difficult the conditions were, how cold and chilly it was with 40 mph winds. You could have missed a 2-footer on a day like that. Ive come to terms with it. Its time to move on.
Steinhauer, whos recuperating from a pair of hip replacement surgeries, is the vice president of the LPGA Board of Directors and will attend this weeks event. She says she hasnt crossed paths with Pepper since the comment was aired.
Dotties who she is, and Ill leave it at that, Steinhauer said. Shes feisty, and Im feisty.
Getting in playoff position at the Wyndham
There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness and death. 'Author Fran Lebowitz
The Wyndham Championship offers PGA Tour pros their last chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, or to improve their point position for a playoff run.
The top 125 in FedEx Cup points earn spots at The Barclays in next weeks start to the PGA Tour Playoffs.
If they started this week, the Wyndhams defending champion wouldnt be playing in them.
Carl Pettersson, who beat Scott McCarron by two shots at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to win Wyndham last year, is 151st in FedEx Cup points. He needs at least a solo 10th place finish to have a shot at cracking the top 125. Andres Romero holds the 125th spot, but he isnt in the field this week.
Other notable players outside the top 125 who are looking to play their way into the playoffs include Stuart Appleby (138th in points), Rocco Mediate (143rd) and David Duval (149th).
Big names searching for big turnarounds
Im in love with the potential of miracles. For me, the safest place is out on a limb. 'Actress Shirley MacLaine
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and John Daly are all in the Wyndham Championship field.
Garcia and Scott are suffering through down seasons and are barely qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Garcia may be No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but hes just 115th in FedEx Cup points. Scott is 111th in points. Daly's last two events include a missed cut at the Buick Open and then a withdrawal following the first round of the PGA Championship citing a bad back.
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.