USA All the Way

By Mike RitzSeptember 24, 2002, 4:00 pm
Edina, Minn. -- Patty Sheehan turned cartwheels ' literally. Eleven American players and their caddies swarmed. Hugs and kisses and tears abounded. Team USA had won the Solheim Cup.
Captain Sheehan has won 35 times on the LPGA Tour. She owns six major championship titles. The 45-year-old dynamo is a member of the Golf Hall of Fame. But nothing, she said, compared to this ' captaining the Americans to victory. Im so proud of my players this smile may never leave my face, she said.
There was good reason to express American pride on this crisp, sunny Sunday afternoon. The Europeans started the day with a two-point lead. Team USA would have to win at least seven of the 12 singles matches and tie another to wrest the Cup back from Europe. The Yanks had accomplished such a feat in 1996 in Wales, erasing a 9-7 deficit by winning 10 of the 12 singles matches to take the Cup, 17-11.
The male American caddies that day in Europe decided not to shave to generate some good luck. The bag-carrying men eschewed the razors again, this time. Were the dirty dozen, beamed Bobby Inman, Meg Mallons caddie. The gritty guys may never shave again.
Early wins by Juli Inkster and Laura Diaz eliminated the Europeans advantage. The Yanks steamrolled their way to a 15-12 win. Team USA has now prevailed in five of the seven biennial matches, never losing on home soil.
The Cup was clinched for the Americans in a most inauspicious fashion. With the Yanks needing at least 14 points to recapture the prize, Pat Hurst earned point No. 14 with a 4-and-2 victory over Mhairi McKay. One hole back, in the final match, Rosie Jones was two-up on Karine Icher as they played the 15th. Icher was on the par-4 in regulation, 25 feet away. Jones, who missed the green short and right, hit a deft chip from the gnarly rough to 2 feet. Icher whiffed her approach putt, leaving it five feet short. She blew her next one four feet past, snatched up her ball in disgust and conceded the putt and the hole to Rosie.
And just like that, Jones had assured at least one-half point for the Americans and the Cup was theirs. There was no dramatic clinching putt. Rosie just picked up her mark and walked to 16 tee. There was no explosive celebration. Jones didnt even realize what she had just accomplished with her teammates. And those teammates werent there to see it happen. They were all gathered 400 yards away, behind the 16th green.
After Rosie closed out Icher on 16, the American party ensued. Weve got the Cup back, the five-time Solheim player yelled. This is so sweet.
The team gathered in the middle of the green. Inkster, who is now 4-and-1 in singles play, led the cheer: USA All The Way!
Michele Redman, who halved her match with Suzann Pettersen by losing the final five holes, had earned a half-point, but blown a half as well. Still, the second-time Solheim player had nothing to lament. This is a team win. And we won as a team, she said.
It gets more special every time, said Kelly Robbins, who has now been a part of four winning American teams. With her 5-and-3 win over Maria Hjorth, Kelly is now 4-0-1 in Solheim singles play.
Solheim Cup rookie Wendy Ward played Annika Sorenstam, the best player in the world, to a draw. Ive never experienced anything like this, exulted Wendy. Her smile has never been so wide. I havent won a tournament this year, but this makes the year a real success.
On the flip side, European captain Dale Reid said, Well be celebrating next year in Barseback (Sweden), when we win it back.
The all-time Solheim Cup points leader, Laura Davies, summed up losing the most prestigious international event in womens golf: Its miserable.
Getty Images

LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

Getty Images

Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.

Getty Images

Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 3:53 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”

The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.

“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”

Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.

“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

Getty Images

Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 3:03 pm

John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Tour.

Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.

But Senden told that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.

"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."

Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.

Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.