Solheim Cup fan experience second to none

By Jason DeeganSeptember 23, 2011, 4:32 pm

Jason Deegan is spending the week on a tour around Ireland's golf courses. On Friday, he stopped in to watch a day of Solheim Cup action. 

COUNTY MEATH, Ireland – The flags, patriotic songs, chanting and roars heard 'round the golf course.

All the elements that make the Ryder Cup so special were on display during Friday's morning matches at the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle just outside Dublin. My first Solheim Cup experience has been a fun one.  

The best part? All this excitement comes without the hassles of the massive crowds you see at the Ryder Cup. There were no traffic jams heading to the venue. You could watch as much golf as you wanted, almost from the front row.

And there was no problem moving from place to place to see the action. I always thought the Ryder Cup couldn't be beat for atmosphere – and it can't – but the Solheim Cup comes pretty close.

'It's unbelievable,' said Bonnie Brandt, who traveled with 32 friends from Albuquerque, N.M. 'I hear it gets rowdier and rowdier as we get into the weekend.'

Solheim Cup crowds are smaller than the Ryder Cup, obviously, but they're no less into it. Everywhere you look, people are decked out in red-white-and-blue or European blue. Everything in Sharon Talarico's wardrobe showcased the American flag: her bejeweled hat, red jacket, blue sweater and colored scarf.

'I love the exuberance,' said Talarico, who lives in Richmond, Va. 'Golf is a little tame for me. The Solheim gives you a chance to cheer and wear bling. You are all allowed to display favoritism.'

There are more women than men, too, by a wide margin. That's not a bad thing.

'There are a lot more females here,' said Brandt, who is already planning on attending in 2013 at the Colorado Golf Club. 'They are all buddy-buddy. At a Ryder Cup, you tend to get pushed (around). Here everybody is more friendly. You let the smaller person move in front. It is much easier to move around.'

I loved being able to go where I pleased. I joined the thrilling morning match won by Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome on the 17th hole, the start of a dreadful European meltdown by Karen Stupples and Mel Reid. I walked right up to the ropes to get a great view of Creamer's perfect tee shot. With a little hustle, I claimed a spot along the ropes again for her second shot. That's unheard of in a Ryder Cup mosh pit.   

U.S. fans are definitely outnumbered, but they are making their presence felt. Before the opening tee shots of the afternoon matches, Americans sitting in the grandstands belted out a stirring rendition of 'God Bless America,' thanks to sheet music passed out to the crowd. The European fans even applauded afterward, proving there's a little more goodwill here than a Ryder Cup. Maybe that's just the good-hearted nature of the Irish hosts shining through once again.

Andrea Garland and Lynn Schreder traveled from Iowa to experience it all.

'The crowds and the loyalty to the countries, it's energizing,' Garland said. 'You get to see some great competitive golf.'

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Watch: Dechambeau simulates dew on East Lake range

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 18, 2018, 11:02 pm

Bryson DeChambeau has certainly lived up to his nickname of "Mad Scientist" since joining the PGA Tour, using his eccentric style to win four events, including the first two tournaments of this year's FedExCup Playoffs.

And he's staying on brand at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he enters as the favorite to capture the FedExCup title.

The 24-year-old was spotted on the East Lake range Tuesday, preparing for potential morning dew on the golf ball this week - by having a member of his team spray each golf ball between practice shots:

While this type of preparation might come off as a little excessive to the average golfer, it's rather mild for DeChambeau, considering that in the last two weeks alone he has discussed undergoing muscle activation tests and measuring his brain waves.

DeChambeau goes off with Justin Rose on Thursday at 2 p.m. He could finish as low as T-29 and still have a mathematical chance of winning the season-long FedExCup.

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Fewer goals but more consistency for Thomas in 2018

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

ATLANTA – After winning last year’s FedExCup, Justin Thomas was asked about his goals for the season and he quickly went to his phone.

A list of 13 “goals” had been typed in, a rundown that ranged from qualifying for the Tour Championship to finishing in the top 10 in half of the circuit’s statistical categories. Nearly every goal had a “Y” next to it to denote he’d accomplished what he wanted.

Thomas was asked on Tuesday at East Lake how his goals are shaping up this season.

“I haven't looked in a while. I really haven't. I'm sure if I had to guess, I'm probably around 50 to 60, 70 percent [have been completed],” he said. “I definitely haven't achieved near as many as I did the previous year. But we still have one week left to knock a big goal off.”

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Thomas pointed out that although he didn’t add to his major total this season or win as many times as he did last year, he still feels like he’s been more consistent this year.

He has more top-25 finishes (19) than he did last year (14), missed fewer cuts (two compared to six last season) and has improved in nearly every major statistical category.

“It's been a really consistent year, and I take a lot of pride in that,” Thomas said. “That's a big goal of mine is to improve every year and get better every year, so if I can continue in this direction, I feel like I can do some pretty great things the rest of my career.”

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Woods' probation for reckless driving ends one month early

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2018, 9:00 pm

Tiger Woods' year-long probation stemming from last year's DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.

According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.

Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.

The 14-time major champ was arrested on charges of DUI in May of 2017 after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his parked Mercedes-Benz in Jupiter, Fla.

Although tests showed Woods was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, he admitted to taking several pain and sleep medications to cope with his fourth back surgery which was performed in April.

Since his arrest, Woods has returned to competition, rising to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking after a pain-free campaign in 2018.

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Players wrapping their heads around FedEx changes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 8:01 pm

ATLANTA – Even players who have known the details of the PGA Tour’s plan to dramatically change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion were still digesting the details on Tuesday at the Tour Championship.

“I think it’s maybe easier to follow for people at home. Kind of definitely strange and very different to be on 10 under par starting on the first tee,” said Justin Rose, who begins this week’s finale second on the points list.

Next year when a new strokes-based system will decide the season-long race, Rose would begin his week at East Lake 8 under, two strokes behind front-runner Bryson DeChambeau and eight shots ahead of Nos. 26-30 on the points list.

Most players said the new format will be an improvement over the current model, which is based on a complicated points structure. That’s not to say the new plan has been given universal support.

Current FedExCup standings

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Under the current format, the 30th-ranked player has a .4 percent chance of winning the cup, while the first player on the points list has a 27 percent chance. Those odds remain virtually identical under next year’s strokes-based format.

“I’m not saying the 30th guy should have the same shot as the fifth guy, but just make the odds a little bit better. Give them a 5 percent chance,” Billy Horschel said. “The strokes could be distributed differently. Maybe put the leader at 6 under [instead of 10 under] and then you go down to even par. Five or six shots back, over four days, you still have a chance.”

There will no doubt be a period of adjustment, but after more than three years of planning, most players were pleased with the general elements of the new plan if not all of the details.

“It's never going to be perfect,” said Justin Thomas, last year’s FedExCup champion and a member of the player advisory council. “No system in any sport is ever going to be perfect, and the Tour has done such a great job of talking to us and trying to get it as good as possible. But it's just hard to understand the fact that you could be starting behind somebody else and still somehow win a golf tournament or an official win.”