Old Guard Looking To Go Out on Winning Note

By Associated PressSeptember 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Solheim CupThe pictures were supposed to be for posterity.
As European players doused themselves with champagne to celebrate a Solheim Cup victory in Sweden two years ago, Meg Mallon gathered the old guard on the U.S. team for group photos of what many figured would be the last time together playing for their country.
Mallon and Beth Daniel had played on seven teams. Rosie Jones was on six teams, Juli Inkster on five. They were in their 40s and had combined to play in 87 matches. All of them had a winning record.
We thought that might be our last one, Mallon said. Now we have another chance.
Yet the ninth Solheim Cup, which starts Sept. 9 at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., is not about making memories, rather purging them. Still fresh in their minds is the beating the Americans took two years ago in Sweden, and the chaotic finish that contributed to the biggest blowout in these matches.
Catriona Matthew earned the decisive point for Europe, and confusion joined the celebration. Spectators ran through the bunkers and across the course, even with five matches still in progress. Some players were told to stop playing, others continued. Ultimately, it was decided that whoever was behind would concede her match.
The final score: Europe 171/2, United States 101/2.
I dont even look at it as a proper score, Mallon said.
If there is a score to settle at this Solheim Cup, it comes with the added pressure of having never lost on U.S. soil. The closest Europe has come was three years ago at Interlachen in Minnesota, where it led 9-7 going into the singles until succumbing to an American rally.
Im not quite sure how this course is going to set up, but I feel like our team is playing good, Inkster said. Theres nothing better than winning at home. I cant imagine anything worse than losing at home, and we dont plan on doing that. We just need to get off to a better start.
For the quartet in their 40s to go out in style, theyll need help from kids young enough to be their daughters. Never has there been such an infusion of youth on the U.S. team, led by 19-year-old Paula Creamer, whose two victories enabled her to become the first LPGA Tour rookie to earn a spot on the Solheim Cup team.
Creamer was in Sweden two years ago, with red, white and blue paint on her face, having played in the Junior Solheim Cup. She also starred for the U.S. at the Curtis Cup last summer in England.
And she is not afraid to speak her mind.
Standing with her teammates last week in Ohio, Creamer oozed so much confidence that even the veterans were shocked at her message to the Europeans.
All I can say is they had better get ready, Creamer said. Because theyre going to get beat.
Also playing for the first time are 22-year-old Natalie Gulbis and 21-year-old Christina Kim. Joining them on the team is 27-year-old Cristie Kerr, the woman atop the U.S. standings.
And to think that only a few years ago there was a dearth of good young U.S. players. The next team might include Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie, if she ever joins the LPGA Tour.
I have to say, four years ago I was like, Whos going to play? There was no one out there, Inkster said. Im quite pleased we have some good young players that can carry on that tradition. Younger players are stepping up. It used to be younger meant you were 25 or 26. Now its 18 and 19.
While the United States brings young and old, Europe answers with power.
Crooked Stick, a Pete Dye creation outside Indianapolis, is where the world was introduced to the grip-it-and-rip-it style of John Daly, the ninth alternate who overpowered the course to win the 1991 PGA Championship.
Its the toughest Solheim Cup course ever, European captain Catrin Nilsmark said. Asked what type of players Crooked Stick suited best, she mentioned long hitters, good short games and Sorenstam.
Europe has no shortage of length, led by Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Maria Hjorth and Sophie Gustafson, all of whom are among the top six in driving distance on the LPGA Tour.
The Europeans also have a collection of players unknown in these parts, the way the Ryder Cup used to be in the 1980s and most of the 1990s. Newcomers include Ludivine Kreutz and Gwladys Nocera of France, and Karen Stupples of England, whose eagle-double eagle start carried her to the Womens British Open title last year.
America has got a lot of young, non-afraid players, Nilsmark said. But so do we.
The U.S. captain is Nancy Lopez, which should lead to an emotional week at Crooked Stick for a Hall of Famer who teared up while speaking to her team before a practice session last month.
She made her captains picks'Daniel and Wendy Ward'on instinct. But she studied past results and set up two practice rounds for the Americans to work on the alternate-shot format that has crippled them.
Two years ago, Europe won 61/2 points from the eight alternate-shot matches; the Americans got their points from that format by halving three matches.
We all know we stink at it, and we dont know why, Inkster said. Sometimes, we try too hard for each other. But these practice rounds have helped.
Despite the vast difference in age, Lopez has seen them come together over the last few months at tournaments and practice sessions. She sees the quiet determination of Mallon, Daniel and Jones, who is retiring after this year; and the unbridled excitement of Creamer, Kim and Gulbis.
This team has all the experience we need to win the Solheim Cup, Lopez said. Weve got young players who are so enthusiastic, and I think theyre going to keep us going. And then youve got the veterans to help them along if they have any problems with pressure. But I dont think thats going to happen.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

    Getty Images

    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

    Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.