Beth Daniels plan may determine Solheim Cup winner

By Jay CoffinAugust 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Its been a good fight so far.
This 11th Solheim Cup began with talks of an American walkover, was met with excitement on the first tee Friday morning, hit a bit of a lull Saturday morning, but now has exploded into an outright slugfest.
Europe grabbed the point back that it lost on Day 1 and the matches are now tied at 8 on the eve of Sunday singles.
The Americans wont admit that theyre the overwhelming favorites but they are. They know it; Europe knows it.
Paula Creamer
U.S. captain Beth Daniel chose to sit Paula Creamer during the Saturday morning fourballs. (Getty Images)
Sure, Europe has two major champions on its roster (Catriona Matthew and Anna Nordqvist) but that doesnt equate to experience and depth. The cumulative world ranking of the Europeans is 946 compared with 330 for the Americans. The averages are 78.83 for Europe and 27.5 for the U.S. Natalie Gulbis is the lowest ranked American at No. 51; Europe has six players ranked lower than Gulbis, including Diana Luna at No. 191.
Lucky for the Europeans, this just so happens to be the year of the underdog, Exhibit A being Y.E. Yang last week at the PGA Championship.
The nitty-gritty numbers still suggest that U.S. will win singles and keep its record intact of winning every Solheim Cup on home soil. Europe has only ever won three singles sessions outright in 10 attempts and is a paltry 41-64-5 overall in 10 previous Cups.
We havent been that good over the years [in singles], European captain Alison Nicholas said. But we have nothing to lose. We have to go out and play our hearts out.
Thats what theyve done so far. If youd have told Nicholas that by Saturday evening her team would be tied and that unheralded Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera (3-0) would have as many points as Matthew, Suzann Pettersen and Helen Alfredsson combined (2-6-2) shed have also believed that she was next in line to succeed the Queen of England.
But the facts are the facts and Europe has a chance to win this Cup because of Nocera, Nordqvist (2-1) and Maria Hjorth (2-1-1). If theyre going to take the next step, the aforementioned triumvirate of Pettersen, Alfredsson and Matthew ' Europe s three best and most experienced players ' must find a way to step it up.
Were all playing well, said Nocera, who shot 91-74 at the Womens British Open just three weeks ago. Were willing to win the Cup.
Meanwhile, U.S. captain Beth Daniels decision to hold out each team member at least one session has been debated to death. She feels that the golf course is difficult and long and that having each person more rested, they will all have fresher legs for singles.
The decision was more in question after the morning fourball session when Europe came out storming to a 2 - 1 victory with American stalwart Paula Creamer on the bench, which marked the first time shes ever sat out a session in two previous Solheim Cups.
Its very hard because I want to play as much as I can, said 23-year-old Creamer. But Im here for my team.
The philosophy has received jeers from critics who are quick to point out that Tiger Woods never has sat out a session in either a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup.
Daniel has, however, mostly received praise from her team. Cristie Kerr, the LPGAs leading money winner, sat out Friday afternoon foursomes after she made five birdies in morning fourballs but supported the tactic.
I think its a great decision, said Angela Stanford, a prime candidate to play all five matches. This golf course will wear you out. I know I was beat last night after two [rounds]. Its kind of nice to have a breather.
Daniel wont hit a shot Sunday but a lot of people, particularly Americans, may remember her as the one who helped win or lose this Solheim Cup. Itll all depend on whether her philosophy works, one that she says was complete Saturday evening when she turned in her singles lineup.
My job is done, Daniel said. Its up to them, theres not a lot more I can do.
If the first two days are any indication, whatever happens, itll be a good fight.
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    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

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    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”