Alternate Solheim Solutions

By Brian HewittSeptember 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
So American golf wakes up this morning to the sobering realization that the Ryder Cup belongs to the Europeans, the Solheim Cup belongs to the Europeans and the Walker Cup belongs to Great Britain and Ireland. This has never been the case before. Does it signal the end of American superiority in our sport?
 
Hardly.
 
But it does provide reason to take a measured pause. It was impossible not to be struck, watching the Solheim Cup matches, that the Americans had eight tries to win a foursomes (alternate shot) match and didn't convert on any of them. That's hard to do. The Americans did halve three of the eight foursomes matches. But the primary reason they entered Sunday's singles matches shouldering the large burden of a three-point deficit was because of their ineffectuality in alternate shot.
 
Is there a way to fix this? Maybe.
 
If the Solheim Cup means as much to the American women as they say it does (and there's no reason to doubt them on this), why don't they force themselves to practice alternate shot more often? The Euros benefit from the fact that alternate shot competitions are common in inter-club matches. They are more exposed to the vagaries of this format growing up in the game.
 
It's probably impractical to stage a sanctioned LPGA event with alternate shot as the format. But what about the silly season? Or what about that schedule gap early in the year? How about a week-long winter training camp for prospective Solheim Cuppers with lots of alternate shot in the mix?
 
For that matter, has anybody considered that college golf--a team sport in the best sense--doesn't promote alternate shot. It's certainly not the fault of college golf that the American women got trounced over the weekend in Sweden. But would it be such a bad thing to consider an occasional alternate shot event for women's college golf?
 
Alternate shot is a demanding and entertaining way of playing golf. If installed, in some fashion at the college golf level, it would even further promote teamwork. Would that be such a bad thing?
 
Meanwhile, it's no secret that certain of the top American men aren't excited about playing a 'Cup' every year. Now it is the Ryder Cup in even-numbered years and the Presidents Cup in the odd-numbered years. But one of the benefits of having our top men compete in foursomes and fourballs every year is it gives them and their captains a better chance to find out which pairs work best. It also gives them more practice 'under the gun' at alternate shot.
 
Finally, it easy to second-guess American Patty Sheehan's captain's pick of rookie Heather Bowie at this Solheim Cup. Bowie did not win a match and did not especially distinguish herself with her quality of play. But the fact is, we 'first-guessed' Sheehan on this pick at the time of the selections. To repeat: Veteran Pat Hurst (6-4-1 lifetime in Solheim Cup matches and playing well at the time of the selections) still has to be scratching her head in wonderment over her omission from the team.
 
Give Sheehan credit for standing up to her choices after the matches ended. Give her credit for sportsmanship and avoiding the temptation to offer excuses. Sheehan is a class act. But it is the hope here that the next American captain is Nancy Lopez. Lopez is not shy about her desire to captain the American Solheim Cup team. Why not sooner rather than later?
 
Already Lopez has demonstrated she understands the dynamic of the Solheim Cup. Last week she told The Golf Channel that, if selected captain, she would hope to have more than two captain's picks. Currently the Euros have five to the Americans' two. This is a huge discretionary advantage for the Europeans. Lopez also said, before the matches, that she would lean more towards putting her best players at the top of the lineup for the Sunday singles.
 
This is called 'front-loading.' It worked famously for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw in Massachusetts in 1999. And it worked just as effectively for Euro Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance at the Belfry last year.
 
Finally, this: Since when did it become fashionable to 'concede' singles matches once the team outcome is determined? Players should feel honor-bound to play the matches until they are over. This is all about the spirit of the competition. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out. If you go off late in the day, resign yourself to the fact that the team competition may be over before you finish.
 
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


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.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“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.”