Europe in Control Heading to Singles

By Sports NetworkSeptember 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- Annika Sorenstam holed a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th to halve the hole, then watched as partner Suzann Pettersen drained a 15-footer at 18 to defeat Laura Diaz and Kelly Robbins and give the European team a split in the Saturday fourball matches at the Solheim Cup.
 
The European squad will take a 9 1/2 - 6 1/2 lead into Sunday's singles matches. No team has ever gone on to capture the Solheim Cup after trailing by more than two heading into the final day, so if the United States is to defend its title, the team will have to make history to do it.
 
There are 12 singles matches on Sunday each worth a point and the U.S. has traditionally dominated the singles. They dropped three of four points in the morning foursomes Saturday and will need all of their depth if they are to bring the Cup back to America.
 
In Saturday's other fourball contests, Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel trounced Mhairi McKay and Ana Belen Sanchez, each playing for the first time in the 2003 Solheim Cup, 5 and 4. Americans Kelli Kuehne and Cristie Kerr beat Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson, 2 and 1, and Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie handled the U.S. team of Rosie Jones and Wendy Ward, 4 and 3.
 
The anchor match between Sorenstam and Pettersen and Diaz and Robbins was a Solheim Cup classic as the Americans tied the match with a seven-foot birdie by Diaz at the 13th.
 
Robbins chipped close with her third shot at the par-5 16th and seemed poised to take the lead. Pettersen drained a five-footer for birdie then Robbins holed her's to keep the match all-square.
 
At the 17th, Diaz nearly holed her approach but the ball settled four feet from the cup. Sorenstam landed her second on the left fringe, 20 feet from the hole while both Robbins and Pettersen were in trouble on the hole.
 
Since Robbins was away, the Americans had the honor and elected to let Diaz putt right away. She converted the birdie putt but Sorenstam, the hometown favorite and No. 1 player in the world, ran home her birdie putt to match Diaz and take the match to 18 all-square.
 
At the 18th at Barsebck Golf & Country Club, Robbins tried to cut her drive over the trees but her ball hit one and kicked right. Diaz went through the fairway, as did Pettersen but Sorenstam split the short grass with her drive.
 
Robbins hit a remarkable shot that nicked a tree but still landed on the putting surface 50 feet from the hole. Diaz landed her approach on the rough in front of the green but bounced up to three feet. Pettersen played her second to 15 feet at the 18th and Sorenstam left herself with seven feet.
 
Once again the Americans employed the strategy of letting Diaz putt first since she was closer. Diaz pulled her putt and opened a huge door for the Europeans.
 
Robbins missed her miracle birdie attempt then Pettersen completed her perfect run in the team competition with her fourth victory, thanks to that 1-up win.
 
'I'm tired. I'm worn. Physically I don't think there's a problem, but it's just mentally, especially when it's match play,' said Sorenstam. 'It's been a long day. We fought so hard. When I saw it drop, I was just like, 'great, this is over, we got a point.''
 
Diaz spoke afterwards about the missed chance at 18.
 
'Overall I putted pretty well but unfortunately my hands were a little shaky on that last putt,' admitted Diaz.
 
The U.S. seemed ready to take the momentum in the singles with early victories in Saturday's fourballs.
 
Inkster and Daniel, who bested the previously unbeaten Carin Koch and Sorenstam Friday afternoon in fourballs, wasted little time against Sanchez and McKay. Daniel sank a three-foot birdie putt at the first to go 1-up and the U.S. extended the lead when the Europeans could not save par at the fourth.
 
The Americans went 3-up when Inkster chipped in for birdie from the side of the green at the eighth. Inkster and Daniel gave one back with a sloppy bogey at the par-5 ninth but won the 10th with a par.
 
The U.S. side won the 12th and 13th to go 5-up and closed out the match on the next hole.
 
'Beth hit some great shots in the middle of some holes,' said Inkster. 'It's just a pleasure playing with her. We let up once but other than that we kept the pressure on them.'
 
Kuehne and Kerr led after a birdie at six but Gustafson drained a 20-footer for birdie to win the seventh and square the match. The Europeans captured the 11th hole when Kerr missed a seven-footer for par but the Americans knotted it up when Kuehne converted a four-foot birdie putt at the 13th.
 
The teams halved the 14th and 15th holes with some clutch putting but Kuehne once again knocked it close at 16. She rolled home her three footer for birdie and a 1-up lead.
 
Kerr played a brilliant approach from the right side to tap-in range at the 17th. Davies tried to hole her blast out of the bunker but missed and Gustafson's birdie try also failed to fall so the American tandem earned their second fourballs win of the Solheim Cup.
 
'I knew it was close but I didn't know how close it was until I walked up,' said Kerr, referring to her approach at 17. 'I tried to keep my composure because the way they were playing, they're going to make it from wherever they are.'
 
Moodie and Matthew, the Scottish picks by captain Catrin Nilsmark, continued their solid play from Saturday morning, where they halved with Meg Mallon and Robbins.
 
The European duo was 2-up heading to the back nine, thanks to four front-nine birdies. Matthew missed a 20-foot par putt at the 11th to drop the hole and cut the lead to 1-up but Moodie's hot putter carried the team from there.
 
Moodie canned a six-footer for birdie to win the 12th, then won the 14th and 15th when neither American could get up and down for par. That ended the match and gave the European pairing a 2-0-1 record as a team this year at Barsebck.
 
'We know one another well enough and if somebody else is off the hole, we know the other is strong enough to pick it up,' said Moodie. 'I think that's a big difference.'
 
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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

    1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.


    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

    Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

    “We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

    Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

    “It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

    It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

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    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.