2011 Solheim Cup

September 27, 2011

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Two years ago I attended the Solheim Cup in person at Rich Harvest Farms Golf Course in Illinois. This year it was time for the 12th installment of the Solheim Cup Matches.

These are patterned after the Ryder Cup matches and were first organized and sponsored by Karsten Solheim, of Ping Golf Club manufacturing fame. The matches were held for the 12th time this year and as always alternating between the United States and a European venue. This year the matches were held in Ireland at the Killeen Castle Golf Course.

Europe has not won the Cup since 2003 but turned the tide against the Americans winning by the narrow margin of 15-13. There will be a lot of controversy in the matches this year as there is always is for the losing side.

But this year is way more about courage than any shortcomings of the players this week.

It basically came down to the match with Michelle Wie versus Suzann Petterson. Wie made a birdie on 15 to go 1 up in the match, but then Petterson birdie each of the last 3 holes to secure a 1 up win basically gaining the cup.

One of the picks of Captain Rosie Jones was former Big Break participant and UCLA collegiate golfer Ryan O’Toole. She played extremely well up until a month or so ago on the LPGA tour, routinely being in contention, but had disappeared like the Dodo Bird recently in tournament play.

Jones took a lot of heat for putting O’Toole on the team, and she held firm, never losing a match. She did however fail to close out a match she had under control eventually ending up with a half of point for the tied match with Caroline Hedwall after losing the last 2 holes. This on the heels of the Petterson win, and this put the final verdict as the best the Americans could do would be to half and share the cup.

At that point the Europeans need just one more half at that point to get the cup. Spain’s Azahara Munoz birdied the 17th hole to go 1 up on Angela Stanford and guarantee Europe’s victory.

More heat will be sure to be on Captain Rosie Jones for not sitting American stalwart Kristie Kerr. Kerr who had an injured write played in all 4 matches on Friday and Saturday was unable to go for the singles matches on Sunday, giving the European team an automatic full point. Kerr taped her write and tried to gut it out all week, but was just flat unable to play and really even hold a golf club as she attempted to warm up on the range for Sunday singles play.

Kerr is a gamer, no different than a basketball or football players saying to their coach “tape me up and get me back in there” But everyone has point where they can no longer breach the pain threshold.

Paula Creamer seemed extra nice for the TV camera, but failed miserably getting boat raced 6-5 in the pole position match of the day against Catriona Matthew. That set a poor tone for the American side, which coupled with the WD from Kerr ended up being too much to overcome.

The train wreck twosome of the day ended up being Juli Inkster against Laura Davies. Davies is somewhat the LPGA version of John Daly – she can bomb it anywhere and often does, but when the lady is getting up and down from parking lots and trash cans, opponents beware, and she had one of those days on Sunday. Inkster on the other yipped short putt after short putt allowing a match to end in a half that should have been a definitive USA win.

To me the biggest news of the week was seeing Sophie Gustafson doing her first ever television Interview. I have always been a fan of Gustafson, but I did not know what most anyone now knows that watched the Solheim Cup. Gustafson has a severe stuttering issue. She did a sit down interview with prepared questions on note cards for the Golf Channel telecast. The first opening when she was explaining her issues with stuttering you could tell that she was exceedingly nervous which just enhanced the stuttering. After taking some time to gather thoughts and just talk about golf, she seemed much more at ease and did pretty well in my opinion.

You could tell the video was edited in points but I am sure this was much more of a daunting task for Gustafson than any 4 foot putt she ever had to make to win a golf tournament.

Most people don’t know that long time CBS golf announcer and US Open Champ Ken Venturi also struggled with stuttering issues in his youth.

Here is hoping that the take away we all have from this sporting event is not to bicker and moan and look at the decision coaches made, or the play of individual players but instead look at the courage that occasional shows itself in the world of sports.

Until next time, Stay Classy Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida!

Live from the Solheim Cup

August 21, 2009

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On Thursday, My wife and I attended the final practice round of the Solheim Cup being played at the fantastic Rich Harvest Farms golf course in Sugar Grove Illinois.

This article will rate the various experiences we had throughout the day. The LPGA is floundering a bit, losing a number of tournament sponsors, and recently the commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, stepped down. Women’s golf this week takes center stage and needs to score big, both on TV and with the fan base and nothing gets this to happen like a good ol fashioned continental rivalry.

We arrived at the course right as the gates were opening for practice round action. The weather was a little bit like it has been in the midwest most of the summer – windy, a bit rainy and unseasonably cool.

Play was delayed slightly because of the weather, so the spouse and I took up residence near the practice green area to watch some of the United States and European teams finest women golfers warm up for their rounds.

My wife has never attended a major golf event before this week. She was anxious to see many of the LPGA players as well as the greats of the Ladies European Tour (LET). She was also eager to get some autographs and multiple photo opportunities of the players and the course itself.

Our first stop was to hit the merchandise tent. Unfortunately, the Solheim Cup folks had failed to order in enough stock of many items. The tents were already out of pin flags (a popular item for autograph hounds) as well as a number of shirts were limited to just one size and a number of other items were “temporarily out of stock”.  We were informed they had actually run out of many of these items on Wednesday. Score – BOGEY – out of too many items on Wednesday is unacceptable, and as usual many things were way too overpriced.

Rich Harvest Farms is a wonderful golf course. It is not, however, fan friendly to walk. The course is very spread out over a huge amount of land, but the actual golf holes themselves are epic for a match play format. This is a tough golf course with superior bunkering and green complexes. Score – EAGLE

The players were out today completing their final practice round. The course is a long walk, so they took it a bit easy today I am sure to conserve energy for actual play. Mrs. Goodman took the time to rate the best … and worst of each team based strictly on their fan friendliness to the galleries. It is important to note that these opinions in many cases are only based on a thirty second contact, but as well all know, the first impression is the strongest.

European Team

Hole In One – Janice Moody. Actually she DID have a hole in one during Wednesday’s practice round. Janice took time to talk to the gallery, especially young kids and asked them questions. She was outstanding with autograph requests as well as photos.

Birdie – Catriona Matthew. The Women’s Open Championship winner this year was very polite and autographed the ball she was using during the round today and gave it to my wife. That extra bonus definitely moves her up the leaderboard here.

Bogey – Helen Alfredson – Stymied the crowds multiple times and even left her own teammates behind after 9 holes. They went back to the clubhouse, she wanted to play a few more … definitely had her game face on today and nothing else seemed to matter.

Double Bogey – Anna Nordqvist – Was a “No Show” on the course today and when asked by a few folks after the opening ceremonies about getting a photo or autograph, she looked exceedingly un-impressed.

Team USA

Eagle – Brittany Lang seemed to genuinely interact with the people and took a LOT of time signing autographs along the way.

Tap In Birdie – Angela Stanford – again was interacting with everyone along the way and after the opening ceremonies, she waited off to the side and took pictures with ANYONE who wanted one.

Birdie – Kristy Mc Pherson– The former Big Break star is still trying to make an impression with the fans, and succeeding.

Bogey – Paula Creamer – The Pinkster is no doubt one of the fan favorites. She is also one of the most saught after of the United States Players. She was the only person on the course my wife did not get an autograph from today, and sadly my wife wasn’t the only person that could say that. Paula did her best, but when others are taking all the time needed at every stop, and you are a player who is not, it stands out.

Triple Bogey – Natalie Gulbis. A fan favorite for some folks the REAL fan favorite was totally incognito today except for the opening ceremony. Cmon Natalie, you left too many guys disappointed.

And to end the day, the X on the scorecard goes to the parking at the Solheim Cup. We left immediately after the opening ceremonies took place and it took us almost 90 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. REALLY – take a lesson from other major tournaments with much larger crowds. There is no excuse for that type of delay.

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to see the real action on Friday.