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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Davies wins Senior LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second in the LPGA's Founders Cup.


Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship


Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

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Asia offers chance for players to get early jump on season

By Rex HoggardOctober 17, 2018, 6:00 pm

When the field at this week’s CJ Cup tees off for Round 1 just past dinner time on the East Coast Wednesday most golf fans will still be digesting the dramatic finish to the 2017-18 season, which wrapped up exactly 24 days ago, or reliving a Ryder Cup that didn’t go well for the visiting team.

Put another way, the third event of the new season will slip by largely unnoticed, the victim of a crowded sports calendar and probably a dollop of burnout.

What’ll be lost in this three-event swing through Asia that began last week in Kuala Lumpur at the CIMB Classic is how important these events have become to Tour players, whether they count themselves among the star class or those just trying to keep their jobs.

The Asian swing began in 2009 with the addition of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, although it would be a few years before the event earned full status on Tour, and expanded in 2010 with the addition of the CIMB Classic. This week’s stop in South Korea was added last season and as the circuit transitions to a condensed schedule and earlier finish next year there are persistent rumors that the Tour plans to expand even more in the Far East with sources saying an event in Japan would be a likely landing spot.

Although these events resonate little in the United States because of the time zone hurdles, for players, the Asian swing has become a key part of the schedule.

Consider that seven of the top 10 performers last year in Asia advanced to the Tour Championship and that success wasn’t mutually exclusive to how these players started their season in Asia.

For players looking to get a jump on the new season, the three Asian stops are low-hanging fruit, with all three featuring limited fields and no cut where players are guaranteed four rounds and FedExCup points.

For a player like Pat Perez, his performances last October virtually made his season, with the veteran winning the CIMB Classic and finishing tied for fifth place at the CJ Cup. All total, Perez, who played all three Asian events last year, earned 627 FedExCup points - more than half (53 percent) of his regular-season total.

Keegan Bradley and Cameron Smith also made the most of the tournaments in Asia, earning 34 and 36 percent, respectively, of their regular-season points in the Far East. On average, the top 10 performers in Asia last year earned 26 percent of their regular-season points in what was essentially a fraction of their total starts.

“It's just a place that I've obviously played well,” Justin Thomas, a three-time winner in Asia, said last week in Kuala Lumpur. “I'm comfortable. I think being a little bit of a longer hitter you have an advantage, but I mean, the fact of the matter is that I've just played well the years I played here.”

Perhaps the biggest winner in Asia last season was Justin Rose, who began a torrid run with his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, and earned 28 percent of his regular-season points (550) in the Far East on his way to winning the FedExCup by just 41 points.

But it’s not just the stars who have made the most of the potential pot of Asian gold.

Lucas Glover finished tied for seventh at the CIMB Classic, 15th at the CJ Cup and 50th in China in 2017 to earn 145 of his 324 regular-season points (45 percent). Although that total was well off the pace to earn Glover a spot in the postseason and a full Tour card, it was enough to secure him conditional status in 2018-19.

Similarly, Camilo Villegas tied for 17th in Kuala Lumpur and 36th in South Korea to earn 67 of his 90 points, the difference between finishing 193rd on the regular-season point list and 227th. While it may seem like a trivial amount to the average fan, it allowed Villegas to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals and a chance to re-earn his Tour card.

With this increasingly nuanced importance have come better fields in Asia (which were largely overlooked the first few years), with six of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking making the trip last week to Malaysia and this week’s tee sheet in South Korea featuring two of the top 5 in world - No. 3 Brooks Koepka and No. 4 Thomas.

“I finished 11th here last year and 11th in China the next week. If I can try and improve on that, get myself in contention and possibly win, it sets up the whole year. That's why I've come back to play,” Jason Day said this week of his decision to play the Asian swing.

For many golf fans in the United States, the next few weeks will be a far-flung distraction until the Tour arrives on the West Coast early next year, but for the players who are increasingly starting to make the trip east, it’s a crucial opportunity to get a jump on the season.

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Watch: Woods uses computer code to make robotic putt

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 3:10 pm

Robots have been plotting their takeover of the golf world for some time.

First it was talking trash to Rory McIlroy, then it was making a hole-in-one at TPC Scottsdale's famous 16th hole ... and now they're making putts for Tiger Woods.

Woods tweeted out a video on Tuesday draining a putt without ever touching the ball:

The 42-year-old teamed up with a computer program to make the putt, and provided onlookers with a vintage Tiger celebration, because computers can't do that ... yet.

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”