Americans Stick It to Europeans

By Associated PressSeptember 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupCARMEL, Ind. -- Captain Nancy Lopez needed more energy and more wins from her American team at the Solheim Cup on Saturday morning.
 
No problem.

Christina Kim
Christina Kim helped give the U.S. an emotional boost Saturday morning -- and a point.
Rookies Christina Kim and Natalie Gulbis took a big early lead in the day's first match, riled up the crowd for their teammates and even pumped some excitement into the American veterans to help the U.S. win three of four matches and forge a 6-6 tie at the midway point.
 
Another round of four best-ball matches was set for later Saturday before the event ends Sunday with 12 singles matches.
 
After blowing four of six leads on the back nine Friday, it didn't take long for the Americans to sense a change in their play -- or the crowd's enthusiasm.
 
'We did what we needed to do,' said Kim, the most boisterous of the team's three first-time players. 'And the crowd was great today, so much better than yesterday.'
 
Gulbis and Kim made Lopez's decision to send them out first look brilliant.
 
Kim, a crowd favorite, urged the crowd to roar. It kept Gulbis smiling and relaxed, and the two made enough shots to close out two European rookies, French partners Gwladys Nocera and Ludivine Kreutz, 4-and-2 for the first American win in the alternate-shot format.
 
The enthusiasm seemed contagious.
 
With Kim and Gulbis watching the from the 16th hole, having clinched their victory moments earlier, 45-year-old Juli Inkster rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt for a 3-and-2 victory over England's Laura Davies and Sweden's Maria Hjorth. Rookie Paula Creamer put Inkster in the right spot, and when the ball dropped, Inkster jumped as Kim and Gulbis paraded around the green with arms raised.
 
'That was great, that's what we want,' American assistant captain Donna Caponi said.
 
Michele Redman, 40, joined the club by pumping her fist and waving her visor after making a long par-saving putt at No. 17. It kept the U.S. 1-up, a match it eventually clinched on the final hole over Annika Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew.
 
Redman was a late addition after Cristie Kerr woke up with a stiff neck, and her slow play irritated Sorenstam, the world's best female golfer.
 
But it was Matthew's errant tee shot at, into the water down the right side, that gave the U.S. a 2-up victory.
 
'Someone was pounding at my door at 5:20 a.m.,' Redman said. 'I was her first choice. I wanted to prove to her (Lopez) I could do it.'
 
The only U.S. stumble came in the third match. Sophie Gustafson and Carin Koch, both Swedes, won four straight holes at the turn and coasted to a 5-and-3 victory over Laura Diaz and Wendy Ward.
 
Ward is now 2-7-1 all-time in three Solheim Cup appearances.
 
That victory allowed the Americans to do what seemed unthinkable only one day earlier -- beating both of Europe's most reliable winners. Sorenstam and Davies, one of the game's biggest winners, share the record for most Solheim victories at 18. But they couldn't hold off the Americans on Saturday morning.
 
In the afternoon matches, Europe's Iben Tinning and Trish Johnson faced Inkster and Beth Daniel, and Koch and Matthew played Kerr and Creamer. In the other two matches, it was Gustafson-Suzann vs. Rosie Jones-Meg Mallon, and Davies-Sorenstam vs. Hurst-Kim.
 
Related Links:
  • Scoring - Solheim Cup
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Getty Images

    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

    Getty Images

    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

    Getty Images

    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

    Getty Images

    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.