Europeans Take Commanding Lead

By Sports NetworkSeptember 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden -- The European team collected 3 1/2 of a possible four points to take the lead after Friday morning's foursomes matches at the Solheim Cup.
Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 player in the world and hometown favorite, delighted the galleries Friday as she teamed with Suzann Pettersen in defeating the American tandem of Laura Diaz and Heather Bowie, 4 and 3.
'It's nice to win but to play in front of the home crowd - you can feel how much they're pulling for us,' said Sorenstam. 'The atmosphere is just fantastic and it makes it even more special.'
The first match of Friday's morning alternate-shot session was the closest as the American team of Beth Daniel and Kelly Robbins halved their match with Laura Davies and Carin Koch for the only points on the United States side.
Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie, the Scottish duo selected to the team by captain Catrin Nilsmark, clobbered the American team of Juli Inkster and Wendy Ward, 5 and 3.
Sophie Gustafson and Elisabeth Esterl dispatched captain Patty Sheehan's heavily favored U.S. pair of Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon with relative ease on Friday. The Europeans won, 3 and 2, as they cut off an American rally on the back nine at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
In the first Solheim Cup outside of the United States or United Kingdom, play began under foggy conditions and with heavy hearts. All participants are sporting black ribbons in honor of the slain Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh, who was murdered earlier in the week.
Play was contested for almost 30 minutes before the fog became too much. The session was stopped for over 90 minutes but when play resumed, the Europeans took full advantage.
Sorenstam and Pettersen won the first hole Friday when Bowie missed a short par putt. The rout was on from there as Diaz drove into the water at the third and the Americans lost that hole to fall 2-down.
Bowie canned a 12-foot birdie putt to win the fifth hole but she missed another short putt to drop the seventh and fall 2-down once again. The Americans bogeyed 10 and 11 and fell 4-down, a deficit they were never able to overcome.
The Europeans closed out the match at 15.
'I think our games are very similar,' said Sorenstam, referring to her partner. 'We complimented each other really well today. When he needed to, we made a putt or when we needed to, we hit it close.'
The opening match started with a 30-foot birdie putt by Daniel to go 1-up but the Europeans took two of the next three holes to go 1-up.
On the second nine, Europe held their 1-up lead until the U.S. won the 11th with par. Europe took back the lead with a win at 13 when Robbins failed to save par from six feet.
The U.S. side won the 14th with bogey to square the match, then took the 15th with par to go 1-up for the first time since the first hole. Koch ran home a long birdie putt at 16 to draw even and both teams made par at 17, thanks to a clutch 15-footer by Robbins.
On the closing hole, Robbins sank a 12-foot bogey putt but Koch, normally the steadiest putter on the European side, missed a 10-foot, par-saving putt right of the hole. The bogeyed left each team with a half point, the only match that kept the Europeans from a clean sweep.
Koch is still undefeated in this her third Solheim Cup with a record of 7-0-2.
Inkster and Ward were even with Moodie and Matthew at the turn but the Scottish pair caught fire on the second nine. Matthew drained a 25-foot birdie to win the 10th, a seven-footer to win the 11th and Moodie rolled home a 10-foot birdie to capture their third hole in a row and go 3-up.
Europe won the 14th with par then Matthew canned a 15-foot birdie putt at the 15th to polish off the 5-and-3 win.
'We both played really well this morning,' said Matthew. 'We both judged the pace well. It's great to get off to a good start.'
Gustafson set the tone at No. 1 with a chip-in birdie but Mallon matched her with a 10-footer at the same hole. The European side built a 4-up lead after 11 holes when Jones left her bunker shot on the fringe at No. 11.
The U.S. side did not give in as they took the 13th and 14th holes to cut their deficit to 2-down but Gustafson and Esterl won the 16th to close out the match.
Friday afternoon will feature four fourball matches.
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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

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    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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    Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

    Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

    Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

    This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

    Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

    The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.