Lighting the Solheim fire

By Randall MellAugust 23, 2011, 8:45 pm

Christina Kim did a little Solheim Cup dance Sunday in Oregon after the Safeway Classic, but nobody complained she was indulging in an excessive celebration.

She danced in her hotel room where nobody could see.

Tenth on the American points list, Kim survived a nerve-racking wait at Safeway to hold on to the final automatic qualifying spot and make her third U.S. Solheim Cup team. Given how she’s struggled to find her form this year, Kim was relieved she didn’t have to depend on being a captain’s pick. She held her breath with Vicky Hurst making a Sunday charge that could have bumped her off the team.

“I was in my hotel room looking at scores, hitting the refresh button on my cell phone every 20 seconds,” Kim told “It was terrifying. I screamed when I knew I had made it, and, I probably did a little dance.”

Kim loves the Solheim Cup, and she loves playing for her country. She sports a formidable 5-2-1 record in the competition, where her passion made her a controversial focal point in the American victory at Rich Harvest Farms two years ago.

With Kim’s fiery celebrations drawing criticism from the Europeans in ‘09, she promises to be one of the lead storylines at Killeen Castle in Ireland in her first Solheim Cup road trip. Both of Kim’s previous appearances in the matches have come on American soil.

In ’09, Kim’s exuberance while teamed with Michelle Wie got the most attention from observers who thought she was over the top.

Mark Reason of the The Daily Telegraph of London wrote: “The two-faced dog of jingoism and triumphalism ripped at the throat of Europe’s players as Kim whipped it on with unrestrained glee . . . Goodness knows what Lee Westwood might have made of it all. He would probably have taken Kim’s wedge and shoved it up her beret.”

John Huggan, a Golf Digest European correspondent, weighed in: “At the risk of being portrayed as a bit of a fuddy-duddy, it must be pointed out that Kim, on occasion, veers into a place where opponents are – however inadvertently – treated with something less than proper respect.”

Even American TV analyst Dottie Pepper chastised Kim in a column she wrote for after that Solheim Cup: “I know Christina Kim loves the galleries and is a ham, but she should be a little more respectful of the game. In the NFL, she’d have been given 18 excessive celebration penalties.”

Given the criticism, should we expect Kim to take a toned-down approach to Europe?

“If I change the way I am, I’ll probably have a lot of pent-up energy,” Kim said. “If I don’t release it, it will probably be a bad thing. I’m just going to be me. If I’m loud and jumping up and down, I’m loud and jumping up and down. It just depends on the moment.

“There will probably be moments where I’m so focused, I have to remind myself to breathe. There will be other moments where I’m so overwhelmed with emotion, I’ll let out a roar.”

Kim wants to make it clear she doesn’t believe she was over the top in her reactions to shots two years ago. She doesn’t believe she crossed a sportsmanship line.

“We have a lot of really fiery players on our team, and I think electricity will circulate through all the matches,” Kim said. “I don’t think I will be any, quote-unquote, leader of the pack in a cheerleading sense. I didn’t think I was last time. Everyone was very exuberant and passionate about representing her country.

“The thing is, what people don’t understand, is that when I celebrate, it’s to celebrate the execution of a great golf shot. I’m not celebrating anyone down.”

Kim, 27, said critics overlook that she was also exuberant in acknowledging her competition’s outstanding shots. In the match that drew so much attention, Kim points out she showed excitement congratulating opponents for outstanding shots. She specifically cited lauding Europe’s Tania Elosegui when she won a hole with an eagle and fist-pumping for her when she stuffed an iron shot to 4 feet at the 17th hole in that controversial Saturday four-ball match.

“There was a lot of misconception about what went on, and there were a lot of things said that really hurt me,” Kim said.

Kim wants to celebrate great shots in Ireland, and she’s working to have her form ready to do just that.

“I’ve struggled off the tee, but I feel like I’m striking the ball better,” she said. “Everything’s close to being really, really good, but it’s been so damn frustrating.”

A U.S. Solheim Cup victory would remedy that.

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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)."