US Pumped for Curtis Cup

By Associated PressJune 11, 2004, 4:00 pm
FORMBY, England -- European and British teams hold the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and Walker Cup. Now it's up to Michelle Wie and her teammates to keep the only cup the United States owns.
The competition gets underway Saturday at the Formby Golf Club in the Curtis Cup, a biennial amateur competition between teams from the United and Great Britain & Ireland.
'I can promise you that my eight players understand the significance,' U.S. captain Martha Kirouac said Friday. 'They know that the Curtis Cup is held by Americans and we intend that that Cup continues to be held by the Americans.'
GB&I captain Ada O'Sullivan said her team received a letter of encouragement from Sam Torrance, who guided Europe to a Ryder Cup win over the United States in 2002.
'We are missing one,' Torrance wrote. 'We have the Ryder, Solheim and Walker Cups. You know what you have to do, girls.'
With the 14-year-old Wie spearheading the team, the Americans are favored to win for a fifth consecutive time. They have 23 wins, six defeats and three draws since the competition began in 1932.
Wie, the youngest player ever to compete in the Curtis Cup, has twice contended for majors on the LPGA Tour and came within a shot of making the cut against the men on the PGA Tour.

'I'm really excited,' she said. 'It's so great to be playing for my country. I feel very proud of myself for making it this far.'
The American flag was flown at half staff at Friday's opening ceremony in honor of late President Ronald Reagan.
The two-day event between eight-women teams has three foursomes (alternate shot) matches and six singles matches each day.
Wie was paired with Brittany Lang against Anne Laing and Claire Coughland for the third of Saturday morning's alternate shot matches. Americans Paula Creamer and Jane Park will play Shelley McKevitt and Emma Duggleby in the first match, with U.S. pair Sarah Huarte and Anne Thurman facing Nicola Timmins and Danielle Masters in the second.
There were suggestions that Wie might sit out the first session, but Kirouac chose instead to rest Elizabeth Janangelo and Erica Blasberg.
'That was a gut-wrenching decision but I've got nothing less than 150 percent support,' Kirouac said. 'I have eight players who are all playing well. Everybody's positive and ready to go.'
The teams practiced Friday in the strongest winds of the week at the links course in northwest England. The GB&I team hopes it continues that way.
'The wind will be a huge factor for us,' O'Sullivan said. 'We need it to be windy, we don't want it to be calm. A lot of our players are links players.'
The young American team - five of them are teenagers and the oldest is 22-year-old Huarte - weren't concerned about windy conditions. But they did seem to experiment more with club selection Friday.
'I've played in weather like that,' Janangelo said. 'It takes some getting used to. But we can hit the little punch shots, keeping it low into the wind, that we need. ... We have the knockdown shots. Hopefully the wind will pick up and make for some interesting golf and some fun shots out there.'
The Americans practiced informally and independently Friday. Wie played with Janangelo and looked impressive as she holed a pitch shot at the ninth.
'The plan was to get the hard work done by Thursday afternoon so they could do what they wanted Friday,' Kirouac said. 'I think the chance to play in the higher wind today enticed some to go out and play a few holes in the wind.'
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Curtis Cup

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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”