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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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray

On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”