Solheim scenarios: Big weekend ahead for U.S. team

By Randall MellAugust 4, 2017, 11:05 pm

St. ANDREWS, Scotland – The cutline sharply shaped the American Solheim Cup picture Friday at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

While jockeying is still possible, some scenarios are now clear cut.

The teams will be finalized on Sunday. The matches are scheduled Aug. 18-20 at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.

For the Americans, Angela Stanford and Austin Ernst now know they will have to rely on Juli Inkster’s two captain’s picks if they’re going to make the team. They both missed the cut and can’t qualify on points or through the world rankings.

Here is the breakdown of who’s in and who’s still hoping to get in based on the current U.S. Solheim Cup points list:

Eight players will make the team off the U.S. Solheim Cup points list. Plus, two more players will make it off the U.S. world rankings list, the two highest ranked players who aren’t qualified on points.

The top six on the points list have secured their spots:

1. Lexi Thompson

2. Stacy Lewis

3. Gerina Piller

4. Cristie Kerr

5. Jessica Korda

6. Danielle Kang

Though Korda is in on points, she withdrew from the Women’s British Open Thursday with a forearm injury. The severity of that injury could require a replacement, but Korda’s team said she’s rehabbing with the intent to play.

Solheim Cup standings entering Ricoh Women’s British Open

7. Michelle Wie made the cut Friday, but she could get bumped out of the top eight in points. There are seven players behind her who still have mathematical chances to pass her.

Still, at No. 35 in the Rolex world rankings, Wie is a virtual lock to make the team off the world rankings list. If she gets bumped off the points list, she likely shoots to the top of the world rankings list. Plus, given her strong form, she’s also a virtual lock as a captain’s pick.

8. Lang is almost as secure as Wie, even if Lang is bumped off the points list. At No. 37 in the world, Lang would likely grab one of those two world ranking spots.

9. Brittany Lincicome currently holds the top spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup world ranking list. She’s No. 42 in the Rolex world rankings, but she made the cut at Kingsbarns and could easily bump into the top eight in points. All she needs is a T-18 or better finish to move past Lang.

10. Angela Stanford missed the cut. She needs a captain’s pick to make the team, but she is a veteran of six Solheim Cups. Though she doesn’t have a strong Solheim record (4-13-3), Stanford took down Suzann Pettersen in singles in Germany two years ago, a pivotal and symbolic triumph in the historic American comeback that will always define her Solheim Cup resume. It’s a victory that ought to continue to resonate with Inkster.

11. Austin Ernst missed the cut and requires a captain’s pick. Ernst just missed out on making the 2015 team. She has three top-10 finishes this year, but none in the last four months.

12. Lizette Salas holds the second qualifying spot on the U.S. world rankings list at No. 45 in the Rolex rankings. She made the cut at Kingsbarns and is in contention to win. She can pass Lang on the points list by finishing T-11 or better this weekend. Salas is playing solidly this summer with four finishes of T-15 or better in her last six finishes.

13. Marina Alex can make the team on points, but she needs to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open. After making the cut at Kingsbarns, she has given herself a chance. She’s No. 60 in the world rankings and has to move ahead of No. 45 Salas to have a shot through the world rankings list.

14. Mo Martin can still make the team on points, but she also needs to win Sunday. Don’t put it past her. She won the Women’s British Open three years ago and excels at links golf. She’s in contention again to win this weekend. Martin is No. 54 in the world rankings list and also needs to move ahead of No. 45 Salas to have a chance off the rankings list. Martin’s dependable ball striking has to make her a captain’s consideration.

15. Jennifer Song must win the Women’s British Open to make the team on points, but she made the cut at Kingsbarns to give herself that chance. She’s No. 76 in the world rankings.

16. Alison Lee must win the Women’s British Open to make the team on points, but she also made the cut to give herself that chance. Lee was on the American team that won in the historic comeback in Germany. She’s No. 62 in the world rankings. She is the last player to have a chance to make the team on points.

20. Paula Creamer needs Inkster’s good favor, but she was hopeful this week that she can still get it as a captain’s pick. Creamer is one of the most successful Americans in Solheim history. Her 16.5 points are surpassed only by Inkster and Cristie Kerr. Creamer made the cut at the Women’s British Open and will be looking for a big weekend.

22. Rookie Angel Yin can't make the team on points, but at No. 59 in the Rolex world rankings she could make it with a push into the top two on the U.S. world rankings list. She is in position to contend for the title at Kingsbarns with a big weekend.

23. Morgan Pressel is another Solheim star, a veteran of five Solheim Cup matches, but like Creamer her form has been off this year. Still, Pressel made the cut at Kingsbarns.

27. Nelly Korda can’t make the team on points or world rankings, and she missed the cut Friday at Kingsbarns, but Inkster hasn’t hidden her admiration of Korda’s skills, consistency and “fiery” makeup. She’s in the running for a captain’s pick.

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than a drop, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.

Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout

''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''

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Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:10 am

DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.

Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.

“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.

Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.

“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”

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Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2018, 12:56 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.

Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.

“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”

It’s been that way for her teammates, too.

Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.

And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).

Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.

“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”

So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?

“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”

The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.

“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”

And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.

“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”