Europe looking for historic Solheim Cup victory

By Associated PressAugust 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Just once, Laura Davies wants to experience how it feels to win the Solheim Cup on someone elses turf.
 
The Americans have done it. Twice, in fact.
 
To overcome the crowds and the American team, which is always first-class and they always come in playing really well, which theyve done again, and just to beat them over here, I think the sense of satisfaction Sunday night would be beyond anything Ive achieved, Davies said.
 
Look at the statistics and all the chatter ahead of Fridays start at Rich Harvest Farms, though, and it would appear another year will go by without Davies getting her wish.
 
The U.S. team includes two of the worlds four best players, while four of Europes players are ranked 125th or lower. In addition to that home-field advantage ' chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! echoed around the course Thursday afternoon, no small feat in a place that plays 6,670 yards ' the Americans have won the last two Solheim Cups.
 
And then theres that gaping hole left by Annika Sorenstams retirement. Sorenstam was a staple of the European team the last decade, and her 22 match victories and 24 points are the most by any player, European or American.
 
I think, obviously, everybodys writing us off as the underdogs, Europes Janice Moodie said.
 
Just dont tell the Americans that.
 
Angela Stanford waited all of about 30 seconds Thursday before saying shes sick of hearing about the Americans being favorites. The Solheim Cup, after all, is match play, where quirky things happen more often than not. Entire events can turn on one putt, and the best team on paper isnt always the one celebrating on Sunday.
 
We need to go out and play like were the underdogs because I think that theyre going to be ready to play and theyre going to be ready to fight, Stanford said. Its one thing to think, yeah, we have a lot of talent and were stacked. But you cant go in thinking that the ball is just going to go in the hole. I mean, its still golf.
 
Just look at last weekends shocking finish at the PGA Championship.
 
Tiger Woods had won the two weeks leading up to the PGA, was atop the leaderboard at Hazeltine National all week and was 14-for-14 when he began the final round of a major with a lead. Yet it was little-known Y.E. Yang who walked off with the Wanamaker Trophy, not Woods.
 
Everyone knows we have not won on American soil, Europe captain Alison Nicholas said. There has to be a first time on some stage in some place. My word is, `possible.
 
The first two days of the Solheim Cup consist of 16 team matches and the tournament closes with 12 singles matches. As defending champions, the Americans need 14 of the 28 points to retain the cup. Europe needs 14 1/2.
 
Play begins with the fourball matches ' each player plays their own ball, and low score counts as the team score ' and things could get interesting early.
 
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer face Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson in the opening match. Kerr and Creamer are the Nos. 3 and 4 players in the world, respectively, but Pettersen might be Europes most consistent player, and she and Gustafson have a long history together at the Solheim Cup.
 
The final match pits Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie against Catriona Matthew and Maria Hjorth. Pressel and Wie, of course, are the face of golfs youth movement, players who were holding their own against the grown-ups as teenagers. Wie is a Solheim Cup rookie while Pressel beat Sorenstam in a key singles match in 2007.
 
Matthew is one of Europes veterans, but she won the Womens British Open two weeks ago.
 
The perception in our team room is that we have to play our best golf to beat this team. And we do, U.S. captain Beth Daniel said. Match play, anything can happen.
 
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.
 
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”