Solheim report cards are in!

By Jay CoffinSeptember 25, 2011, 5:59 pm

UNITED STATES

Captain Rosie Jones C

Captains are either heroes or goats, that’s just the way it works. Minor tweaks and attention to detail are what decide matches that are this close. Pairing Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford twice in foursomes was a big mistake and not resting Cristie Kerr a session, knowing her wrist was fragile, was another. Playing Paula Creamer all five sessions wasn’t an egregious error. Jones did get a huge boost from oft-criticized pick Ryann O’Toole, who ended with a 2-0-2 record, validating the pick. But bottom line, the Americans had more talent and lost.

Morgan Pressel (4-0-0) A+

Pressel was fuming when she sat the opening session but responded with four consecutive victories and was the MVP for the U.S. She won with three different partners, then was scrappy in singles when she fought back from a 2-down deficit to defeat Anna Nordqvist.

Christina Kim (1-0-1) A

Thought to be one of the weaker players on this U.S. team because she arrived in poor form, Kim stepped up big in her two matches. Kim and Ryann O’Toole found a rhythm in fourballs and Kim drummed Maria Hjorth, 4 and 2, in singles.

Paula Creamer (3-1-1) B+

Creamer was a horse again for the U.S., playing all five matches, but she ran out of gas in singles and played poorly in a 6-and-5 rout by Catriona Matthew. Still, without Creamer, the U.S. wouldn’t have been close going into Sunday. Without her playing well on Sunday, the Americans just didn’t have enough firepower.

Ryann O’Toole (2-0-2) B

An emotional week for O’Toole ended on a major downer as she lost the last two holes in singles with a 2-up lead. Even though she’s disappointed, she never lost a match outright and played four times. Many people believed she would play only twice after having struggled mightily the past month.

Vicky Hurst (1-1-0) B

The captain’s pick didn’t play much and she lost her Friday fourball match, 5 and 4, with Brittany Lincicome but Hurst contributed with three birdies. Although she didn’t play at all on Day 2 she stepped up in singles and beat Melissa Reid, who has won three times on the Ladies European Tour this year.

Brittany Lincicome (2-2-0) C

Lincicome’s record may look like she deserves a better grade but she lost a big singles match to Solheim Cup rookie Christel Boeljon in a place where she should’ve thrived. When Lincicome plays well, she’s tough to beat. When she plays poorly, she loses interest.

Cristie Kerr (2-2-1) C

Kerr should’ve been more honest with Rosie Jones and insist she sit out a session before singles. Playing so much with an injured wrist was bound to catch up with her, and not playing in singles cost her team a point. It would’ve been better to sit a session Saturday and guarantee a Sunday start.

Brittany Lang (1-3-0) C

Lang’s three team matches were disappointing but she was partnered in two of them with Juli Inkster, who did not play well, then paired with Michelle Wie in fourballs when they ran into a hot-putting Laura Davies. She stepped up in singles and won 6 and 5.

Juli Inkster (0-2-1) C

Inkster clearly does not have the stamina she once did and didn’t play well in both foursome matches with Brittany Lang as a partner. But the veteran gutted out a crucial half-point in singles against Laura Davies by winning the 18th hole with a par.

Michelle Wie (1-3-0) C-

It was a strange week for Wie. She and Cristie Kerr won the first match of the Solheim Cup, then she never won again. It's difficult to knock her singles performance, though. She gutted it out but lost to Suzann Pettersen, who closed with three consecutive birdies. Wie birdied two of the last five but it wasn’t enough.

Stacy Lewis (1-3-0) D+

This wasn't the rookie Solheim Cup performance Lewis was looking for. Hand it to her for hanging tight with Sophie Gustafson in a good singles match, but Lewis and Angela Stanford clearly had tension in both of their foursome matches.

Angela Stanford (0-3-0) D

Stanford should’ve been more of a leader in these matches as she has great experience playing on foreign soil for the Solheim Cup. But she and Stacy Lewis were like oil and water in both foursome matches. She could’ve redeemed herself in singles but didn’t and was the only player on either team to leave without gaining a point.


EUROPE

Captain Alison Nicholas A

This is the only grade you can give to a captain of a winning team, isn’t it? Nicholas learned from her captaining mistakes from two years ago and made all the right moves this time. It’s impressive that Europe answered all the questions about being relevant all week. It’s also impressive that the Europeans won even though the Americans had a much deeper team according to the world rankings. Captaining a winning Solheim Cup team for Europe seals Nicholas’ place in history.

Sophie Gustafson (4-0-0) A+

Gustafson was dominant this week and was the only European to earn four points. She had favorable matchups all week but still showed up and was rock solid. Her singles victory over Stacy Lewis was gritty and she was 2 under in nasty conditions.

Suzann Pettersen (3-1-0) A

Would love to give her an A+ but the lone defeat kept that from happening. She will forever be a Solheim Cup legend for making birdies on the last three holes of singles against Michelle Wie to capture the full point in a 1-up victory. Those who have questioned her guts in big moments will never do so again.

Caroline Hedwall (2-1-1) A

Hedwall was one of the clear surprises for Europe. She thrived in her first match with Sophie Gustafson, then went 1-1 on Day 2. But it all comes down to singles, and coming back from 2 down with two holes remaining against Ryann O’Toole to halve the match clinched the Solheim Cup for Europe.

Catriona Matthew (2-0-2) A

Matthew never gets the attention she deserves because of her quiet demeanor but she always delivers. Her Solheim Cup record is now 12-7-6 and she is 5-1 overall in singles. Her dominating performance against Paula Creamer in singles set the tone for the day.

Azahara Munoz (2-1-1) A

The Spaniard stepped up big and you rarely saw her without a smile. Munoz went 1-0-1 with Catriona Matthew as her partner but struggled with Maria Hjorth in fourballs. But her performance in singles was brilliant. She made birdie on the 17th hole against Angela Stanford to guarantee at least a half-point.

Christel Boeljon (1-2-0) B

Boeljon sat all of Day 1 and played well in both her matches on Day 2 but did not get any help from either of her partners. She gets a good grade for her ability to take down Brittany Lincicome in singles. It was a crucial point when momentum was key.

Laura Davies (1-1-1) C

Davies turned back the clock Saturday when she made five birdies in 15 holes to win Europe’s only point of the afternoon. But she’s docked points for failing to win a full point in singles when she had a 1-up advantage over Juli Inkster on the last hole. She made bogey.

Anna Nordqvist (2-2-0) C

Nordqvist played terribly in her opening foursome match when she had a shank and a skull, both finding water. She was 2 up after eight holes against Morgan Pressel in singles, then lost the next five holes. More was expected from her.

Sandra Gal (0-2-1) C-

Gal looked shaky in her first Solheim Cup. Her half-point came while teaming with Catriona Matthew in fourballs, and she lost another fourball match teamed with Christel Boeljon. It was disappointing that she didn’t put up more of a fight in singles against Brittany Lang.

Melissa Reid (1-3-0) C-

She showed promise and the game to be a Solheim Cup player for a long time but the three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour won only one match, which came as a result of Laura Davies’ five birdies in 15 holes in fourballs. Other than that, it was an unspectacular week. She never should’ve lost to Vicky Hurst in singles.

Maria Hjorth (1-3-0) D+

Most of Hjorth’s grade comes from a sloppy singles performance against Christina Kim, who won 6-and-5. The Swede has been a Solheim stalwart in the past but she did not bring her best to Ireland this year. She’s lucky Europe won, too. If not, her singles loss would look more glaring.

Karen Stupples (1-2-0) D

Stupples was excited to redeem herself from a poor Solheim performance in 2005 when she went 0-2. She never got it going and cost Europe a full point Friday morning with a chunked chip shot on 18. Her only point came because Cristie Kerr conceded her singles match.

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Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 2:24 am

SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.

Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.

''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.

Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.

''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.

He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.

''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''

Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.

''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''

Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.

Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.

But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.

''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''

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LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 1:53 am

LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.

Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.

Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.

''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''

That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.

''Too many,'' Park said.

The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.

''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''

The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.

Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.

Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.

''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''

Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.

She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.

''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''

ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.

Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.

The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.

Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.

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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.