Inkster brings fun, promising strategy to U.S. squad

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2014, 10:34 pm

Juli Inkster brings a truck load of victories with her as the next U.S. Solheim Cup captain.

She brings something else that may prove just as valuable to an American team trying to win back the cup after two dispiriting losses.

She brings a sense of perspective that comes with winning seven major championships while raising two daughters safely through their teenage years. She brings the ability to see the big picture, a mother’s gift of knowing how to navigate through life’s overblown dramas without losing sight of what’s really important.

Inkster’s quick wit and famous wisecracks will be part of any formula she takes to Germany when the 2015 Solheim Cup is played at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club outside Heidelberg. She thought the U.S. team looked tight losing last year at Colorado Golf Club, where Europe put a record 18-10 rout on the Americans while winning for the first time on U.S. soil.

“I think it's just really crucial that we go out there and take a little pressure off,” Inkster said in a teleconference Monday. “The girls played tight, and I'd like to see them play a little looser, because on paper we have a great team. Last year they had a great team, but you don't play on paper.

“I'd just like the girls to kind of loosen up a little bit, not worry about whether they win or lose and just go out there and play their games, because if they play their games, I'm pretty confident that they're going to win.”

If a captain's strategy came through Inkster’s first news conference as the U.S. captain, that was it.

Stacy Lewis, looking to play on her third American Solheim Cup team, could have seen that coming.

“When we see all the highlight videos Solheim Cup week, Juli is in most of them, and she's usually dancing around the green and having fun,” Lewis said. “I think that's what she's going to bring to this. Like she said, we've played tight the last few years. We've played to not lose, instead of just going out there trying to win. I think she's going to help us relax a little bit and hopefully have a little bit more fun with it.”

At 53, Inkster has proven herself as a player. She has no interest in being a playing captain. She’s an LPGA Hall of Famer with 31 LPGA titles. She’s the most decorated American to play in the Solheim Cup with team records for most appearances (9), most points (18½) and most matches won (15). Yet, she still loves to play the game. That’s why she remains an active, full-time player on tour.

“Unlike the last few captains, Juli’s been around the tour the last few years,” Lewis said. “She knows us really well. So, I think that's going to help her and help everybody kind of going forward.”

Inkster knows her fellow Americans well. She knows what buttons to push. Her famous sense of humor is sure to be a part of that.

“She’ll kid around with you, needle you in a way that makes it fun for you,” Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan once said of her Solheim Cup teammate. “All the players appreciate her sense of humor, and they admire her ability to balance her personal life while playing golf. I know she’s my hero.”

Inkster got a laugh at the U.S. Women’s Open at the Broadmoor a couple years ago. With all the talk about how she had a chance at 51 to win another major, she walked into the media interview room that week with a cane. When a tournament handed out Juli Inkster bobblehead dolls one year, she examined one with a wry smile. “They gave me a chest,” she cracked.

Don’t be fooled, though. Inkster’s intense, but she knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off. That’s her gift.

“Let’s just have some fun with it,” Inkster said of this next Solheim Cup. “It’s not do or die. You’re still going to be the same person when you get on that plane and fly home, but it will be a lot more enjoyable flight if we have that Cup with us.”

That might be Inkster’s ultimate definition of playing for fun.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”