Creamer, Lewis already seeking Solheim retribution

By Randall MellFebruary 9, 2013, 3:42 pm

Sometimes losing is like awful tasting medicine.

You have to force it down before you start feeling better.

That’s what it was like for Americans Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer as they stood behind the 18th green in Ireland watching the Europeans howl and dance in the giddy aftermath of Europe’s stunning come-from-behind 15-13 victory at the Solheim Cup almost 18 months ago.

With the sun sinking and the cold, damp shadow of Killeen Castle falling over them, Lewis and Creamer stood stiffly together.

“I made myself stay there and watch because I wanted to remember that,” said Lewis, the LPGA’s player of the year last season. “I wanted to remember what it felt like. With everything that happened that week, we probably still should have won.”

Creamer turned to Lewis there and made a pledge.

“This is never going to happen again,” she said.

Since the Solheim Cup’s beginning in 1990, the Americans have never lost on their home soil, and they will be back at home this year. The biennial event will be staged Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver.

With the LPGA’s 2013 season set to begin next week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the stakes ratchet up in this Solheim Cup season. The Americans begin jockeying for roster spots with qualifying points escalating. So do the Europeans.

U.S. captain Meg Mallon and her assistant, Dottie Pepper, were in Denver this week on a Solheim Cup promotional blitz.

“We’re all ready to go,” Lewis said. “And we want that cup back.”

Europe ended a three-match losing streak to the Americans in Ireland. They won in stunning fashion with the Americans looking like they had clinched victory late in the singles matches. The Americans led in the final three matches on the course, but they didn’t win any of them. In about a 30-minute blitz, Europe’s Suzann Pettersen, Azahara Munoz and Caroline Hedwall turned around their matches.

“I remember sitting there watching and thinking, 'Is this really happening?'' said Creamer, who is 11-3-5 in four Solheim Cups. 'It was a terrible feeling. I had never been on a team that lost.'

The Americans nearly pulled out the victory despite playing singles without Cristie Kerr, who was unable to tee it up with a wrist injury and conceded her match to Karen Stupples before reaching the first tee.

Mallon feels the intensity of interest escalating among Americans who lost in Ireland, but there are questions to be answered in the six-month buildup. There are 18 events before the United States roster is set at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open. What new faces will make the team? Which familiar faces won’t?

“I figure I have four or five players who are probably a lock to make the team,” Mallon said. “After that, it’s wide open.”

Mallon didn’t say who the probable locks are, but the U.S. point standings tell the story. Lewis, Kerr, Creamer, Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome are the top five. Brittany Lang, Lexi Thompson and Katie Futcher hold down the next three spots. Thompson and Futcher have never played a Solheim Cup.

With American qualifying revamped, only the top eight point earners make the team. In a new feature, the next two Americans in the Rolex world rankings automatically qualify. Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie hold those spots.

Mallon will also get two captain’s picks. The ageless Juli Inkster, Vicky Hurst, Natalie Gulbis, Jessica Korda, Mina Harigae and Gerina Piller are among a large contingent with a shot to make the team. So are Christina Kim, Ryan O’Toole, Pat Hurst and Nicole Castrale with rebound years. 

Mallon’s team, whoever ends up making it, already feels like it’s on a mission.

“I know I’ll have a highly motivated team,” Mallon said. “And the Europeans are also highly motivated to win for the first time on American soil.”

Here’s your American Solheim Cup qualifying primer:

• The race to make the team runs through the finish of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews, two weeks before the Solheim Cup. The American and European teams will be introduced in a news conference at the Old Course.

• The top eight Americans on the USA Solheim Cup points list automatically make the team.

• The top two Americans in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who aren’t already qualified off the points list also automatically make the team.

• Mallon will have two captain’s picks.

• Qualifying points were accumulated last season but escalate in 2013. A victory is worth 60 points this year, up from 40 points last year. A major championship triumph will be worth 120 points, up from 80 last year. Points are awarded for top-20 finishes with second place in regular events earning 30, third place 28.5 and all the way down to two points for 20th.

Here’s the USA Solheim Cup points list going into next week’s Australian Women’s Open:

1. Stacy Lewis 518

2. Cristie Kerr 294

3. Paula Creamer 264

4. Angela Stanford 234

5. Brittany Lincicome 203

6. Brittany Lang 154

7. Lexi Thompson 132

8. Katie Futcher 97

9. Michelle Wie 93

9. Vicky Hurst 93

11. Mina Harigae 77

12. Natalie Gulbis 74

13. Morgan Pressel 70

14. Jessica Korda 66

15. Gerina Piller 60

Here’s the American Solheim Cup world rankings list:

40. Morgan Pressel

65. Michelle Wie

72. Jessica Korda

78. Vicky Hurst

79. Mina Harigae

80. Katie Futcher

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.

Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."