Bunker Shots Solheim Cup

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupWith the Solheim Cup at hand, we set the storylines for the week with the help of strong womens wisdom.
 
Its no fun to be favored this season
 
My passions were all gathered like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose. ' Actress Bette Davis (1908-89)
 
The U.S. Solheim Cup team is an overwhelming favorite against Europe this week.
 
That ought to scare American captain Beth Daniel.
 
The way this year in golf is going, the U.S. team uniforms ought to be fitted with targets on the backs.
 
In this year of the spoiler we were just witness to one of the greatest upsets in the history of golf. Y.E. Yang played the ultimate spoiler in his victory against Tiger Woods Sunday at the PGA Championship.
 
The Americans are at home with the Solheim Cup to be played Friday through Sunday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The United States is 7-3 in Solheim Cups and has never lost at home (5-0).
 
No American on the 12-woman roster is ranked lower than No. 51 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings. Thats double the number of Europeans within the top 51. A third of the European roster isnt even among the top 100 in the world. Though Scotlands Catriona Matthew won the Ricoh Womens British Open, the European depth was exposed there when the top three players on the Ladies European Tour team points list all failed to make the cut. Frances Gwladys Nocera, Italys Diana Luna and Spains Tania Elosegui were cumulatively 55-over par in the seasons final major.
 
What the Solheim Cup needs . . .
 
Its not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over. ' Poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
 
Theres pressure on Europe this week to win the Solheim Cup for first time on American soil.
 
Theres also pressure just to make the matches relevant.
 
With the Americans heavily favored, with media already grousing that the event needs to be revised to bring top players from other parts of the world into the mix, the last thing the Solheim Cup needs is for the Americans to jump to a quick start and win in a rout.
 
Of course, as the American leader, the last thing Daniel wants to hear is that these matches need an upset, but that would put a giant jolt back into the event.
 
The Ryder Cup was in this same spot not so long ago with Americans dominating that event. The United States had won 13 consecutive Ryder Cups when a new breed of European players sparked a 16 to 11 upset in 1985. Spains Seve Ballesteros, Englands Nick Faldo and Germanys Bernhard Langer helped change the nature of the competition to the point where the Americans were actually the underdog when they upset Europe at Valhalla last year. The competition was expanded from Great Britain/Ireland to all of Europe in 1979.
 
Of course, the Solheim Cup is a match-play event, from alternate-shot to four balls to singles. With match play a format that suits underdogs and upsets, Europe shouldnt be discounted too easily.
 
I do not believe this is going to be as lopsided as some people predict it will be, Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper said. I believe Alison Nicholas has a much stronger and deeper team than most people think. I think she got the help she needed from two particular players: Laura Davies, who added an event on her schedule, so she didn't force her captain to have to pick her, and also Catriona Matthew, obviously winning the Women's British Open last week, solidified her spot. She had two veteran players she didn't have to use as picks. I think it allowed her to fill out her team the way she did in a very good way. I don't think its going to be the runaway that so many people think it would be on paper.
 
American Pepper-ing at the Solheim Cup
 
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ' Author and activist Helen Keller (1880-1968)
 
Dottie Peppers strong link to the Solheim Cup goes beyond her impressive 5-1 record in singles.
 
If you Google Peppers name, the second item that pops up is YouTubes replay of her Chokin Freaking Dogs comment during the American victory in Sweden two years ago. She made the comment after American Sherri Steinhauer missed a short putt at the 18th hole in foursomes that allowed the Europeans to halve the match. The comment made it onto airwaves after an audio man failed to cut the microphones during a delay going to a commercial. It created a furor within the American teams ranks.
 
With Pepper headed back to the TV booth for Golf Channels Solheim Cup telecast this week, she understands media will revisit the issue.
 
We were in a commercial break, for I believe, YouTube says it's now 6.5 seconds, Pepper said. My niece was quick to bring it up,`Dot Dot, you're on YouTube. Not exactly the way I wanted to make it there. It's pretty obvious we were in a break. Yeah, my passion bled through. As a journalist, you have to take yourself out of the player's mode. In a break, I'm rooting as hard as I can for the American team. I'm a passionate sports buff. When I saw the American team really back pedaling, losing control of the matches, I said what I said. I didn't hide from it. If the players wanted to chew me out, they did. If they elected to handle it differently, they did that, too. I didn't run or hide from it. I stand by what I said. Certainly hope our audio is a little better next time.
 
American captain Beth Daniel was an assistant captain under Betsy King when Peppers comments became an issue.
 
Lets just say nobodys forgotten it, Daniel said. I know she didnt mean for it to be on the air, and I understand it was total emotion, but it was very hurtful to the team. I happened to be standing right on the green when Sherri hit the putt. I thought it was an excellent putt. I dont think it was really relayed how difficult the conditions were, how cold and chilly it was with 40 mph winds. You could have missed a 2-footer on a day like that. Ive come to terms with it. Its time to move on.
 
Steinhauer, whos recuperating from a pair of hip replacement surgeries, is the vice president of the LPGA Board of Directors and will attend this weeks event. She says she hasnt crossed paths with Pepper since the comment was aired.
 
Dotties who she is, and Ill leave it at that, Steinhauer said. Shes feisty, and Im feisty.
 
Getting in playoff position at the Wyndham
 
There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness and death. 'Author Fran Lebowitz
 
The Wyndham Championship offers PGA Tour pros their last chance to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, or to improve their point position for a playoff run.
 
The top 125 in FedEx Cup points earn spots at The Barclays in next weeks start to the PGA Tour Playoffs.
 
If they started this week, the Wyndhams defending champion wouldnt be playing in them.
 
Carl Pettersson, who beat Scott McCarron by two shots at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to win Wyndham last year, is 151st in FedEx Cup points. He needs at least a solo 10th place finish to have a shot at cracking the top 125. Andres Romero holds the 125th spot, but he isnt in the field this week.
 
Other notable players outside the top 125 who are looking to play their way into the playoffs include Stuart Appleby (138th in points), Rocco Mediate (143rd) and David Duval (149th).
 
Big names searching for big turnarounds
 
Im in love with the potential of miracles. For me, the safest place is out on a limb. 'Actress Shirley MacLaine
 
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and John Daly are all in the Wyndham Championship field.
 
Garcia and Scott are suffering through down seasons and are barely qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Garcia may be No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but hes just 115th in FedEx Cup points. Scott is 111th in points. Daly's last two events include a missed cut at the Buick Open and then a withdrawal following the first round of the PGA Championship citing a bad back.
 
Watch exclusive GolfChannel.com LIVE streaming coverage of Day 1 of the Solheim Cup, Friday from 2 pm- 4 pm ET.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Wyndham Championship
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
     
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”