espnW: LPGA

These Ladies Get It: Victorious Team Spain Parties in Crowns

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:27
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Team Spain rolled to victory at the first-ever LPGA International Crown on Sunday. Seeded fifth in the eight-team field, the foursome -- Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz, Carlota Ciganda and Belen Mozo -- clinched the victory behind Mozo’s 3-and-2 win over Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn. The Spaniards were more than a little excited over their unexpected win – singing and taking selfies while wearing crowns. Hey, they don’t call it the International Crown for nothing, folks!

The women seemed beyond thrilled to bring their country a trophy. And after their national soccer team’s disaster of a defense campaign at the World Cup, can you really blame them?

Spain’s impressive performance drew the respect and admiration of peers and several opponents.

And while Team USA was likely disappointed after being eliminated on Saturday, famously-snubbed team member Michelle Wie seemed to make the best of her off-week as she lived it up at a friend’s wedding.

Based on her season thus far, it seems fitting that Wie would still have the best weekend despite, you know, not actually playing.

See something entertaining on social media that you think deserves to be shared? Let me know on Twitter, @darcymaine_espn!

Surf's up at the North Shore!

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
12:10
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Tiffany JohCourtesy Tiffany JohLPGA Tour player Tiffany Joh took up surfing about two years ago and fell in love with it.

Oh, hey again guys! Tiff Joh here, reporting for espnW blogging duties.

So last time around, I talked about a relatively new passion of mine -- weirding out random strangers with my fresh-to-def unicorn onesies. This time around, I'll talk about another passion of mine -- the ocean.

Tiffany Joh
Courtesy of Tiffany JohRest after three straight weeks of golf or enjoy Waimea Bay? That's a no-brainer.

I picked up surfing about two years ago and immediately fell in love with it. I'm definitely nowhere close to Ryann O'Toole status by any stretch, but I've grown a deep appreciation for the ocean, whether through surfing, body surfing or -- what ends up happening most of the time -- lying on my board like a beached whale and recovering from my most recent wipeout.

So, imagine my delight when I looked at the LPGA schedule and saw that not only were we playing in Hawaii again, but we also had the week before off. (I guess I could've used that week to rest after three consecutive tournament weeks, but THE NORTH SHORE, YOU GUYS! Am I right?!) So I scheduled my flight over to Honolulu a few days early to eat shave ice ... ahem ... I mean prepare or whatever.

Oh, yeah. Before I continue, one more thing you should know about me: I'm a little accident prone. Like, if there is a chair anywhere in a 40-foot radius, I will find a way to stub my toe on it. If there is a step, I will trip on it. And if, God forbid, there is a body of water of any size, I will drop my phone into it.

Anyway, back to the North Shore. I ended up staying with a lady named Betty, also known in the community as "Banzai Betty." (Go ahead. Google her. She's kind of a big deal.) She was super helpful in guiding me toward mellower breaks that were a little more accessible to novice surfers such as myself.

Tiffany Joh
Courtesy of Tiffany JohOuch! This is what happens when foot meets a sharp piece of reef.

I went to a nice longboard break called Chun's Reef one morning and had a ton of fun catching tiny little ankle biters. So much so that I convinced myself to come back again at sunset to squeeze in another surf. Long story short, the waves got bigger (or I got smaller, or both), and as darkness fell, I started paddling back in, a little frustrated after not catching any waves. To add insult to injury, as I was walking out of the water, I stepped on a sharp piece of reef and cut a large portion of skin on the ball of my foot.

Thankfully, a nearby gas station was open, and I washed out my battle scar with bottled water and used a toothpick to pick out the little bits of gravel and sand. (Is this TMI? Eh, you knew what you were getting into when you clicked the link to my blog!)

The next day, the LPGA physiotherapists took care of it properly (despite all of my medical expertise garnered through watching episodes of “Grey's Anatomy’’). In the end, I played solid in tough, windy conditions and with a slight limp.

Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone! Or if you're anything like me, just get a helmet or something.

TJOH OUT.





Back in the day: Natalie Gulbis

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
12:45
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Natalie Gulbis Getty ImagesNatalie Gulbis learned a lot from Tiger Woods when she was a young player -- and she still uses that advice today.

In our new espnW series, elite athletes look back with a memory from their rookie days.

About 10 years ago when I was first turning professional and joining the LPGA, I trained alongside Tiger Woods at the Butch Harmon School of Golf. We all had lockers, but Tiger would leave his clubs in the office.

I got there a little early one day, and I was just looking at his equipment. I would never touch his clubs when he was around, but if he wasn’t there, I’d look at his wedges, or try to see something special about them.

Well, apparently I got a little too close, and I spilled my soy latte all over his grips and his gloves. It was a week before the Masters, and I knew he would not be excited to have to re-grip all of his equipment or get a new bag, so I tried furiously to clean everything up.

[+] EnlargeTiger Woods and Butch Harmon
David Maxwell/Getty ImagesTiger Woods and Natalie Gulbis trained with Butch Harmon (right), at the same time.

I did it before anybody could see me, and to this day I’ve never told him. I knew he’d be pissed that I was even touching his stuff, let alone spilling my coffee on it! But I watched him on TV the next week, and not only did I not see any visible stains, but he won the Masters.

These days Tiger doesn’t train with Butch Harmon, so I only see him a couple of times a year. But in those first five or six years, I learned a lot from Tiger. He gave me tips about golf, and advice about being on tour, and really just taught me how to practice.

At that time, Tiger was winning everything and everybody knew who he was. I felt really fortunate to have an inside look at what the best in the world did. While I never managed to steal any secrets from his clubs, watching how he practiced was incredibly motivating. I would say 80 percent of the time he arrived before me and left after me. He always outworked everybody -- it was really remarkable.

The best tip he ever gave me was the importance of training, rain or shine. In Las Vegas where I live it’s almost always beautiful, and I’d like to skip out when it was nasty outside. He’d say to me, “What, you don’t think you play tournaments in bad weather? Throughout your career you’re going to play in every single condition imaginable.”

And he was right -- I play all over the world in rain, snow, wind and cold, and practicing in the elements was absolutely essential prep for all of that.




Finally, home sweet home

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
11:19
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Anna NordqvistCourtesy of Anna NordqvistAnna Nordqvist held off world No. 1 Inbee Park to win the Honda LPGA Thailand, her first victory in five years.

There is no feeling like being home. As much as I love to travel and compete, I really love the feeling of coming home after a long stretch on the road. The last three weeks have been exciting, exhausting and fun, to say the least. I pretty much traveled around the world, playing tournaments in Australia, Thailand and Singapore. It took 33 hours (!) to get from door to door from Singapore to Orlando, but it was all worth it.

I played my first tournament of the year in Melbourne, Australia. It is one of my favorite cities in the world, but unfortunately I got a huge cold as soon as I got there so I didn’t have much energy to explore the city this year. Rumor has it we will be back again next year so hopefully I will have better luck then.

With all the travel we do, staying healthy is a priority, although it can be hard when flying and running into a lot of people at airports, etc. When you do get sick you have to make the best of it, fighting through it and playing under the weather and with a lack of energy. It is the same with jet lag. Your body clock might be all messed up, but you have to get through it and play the best you can.

[+] EnlargeAnna Nordqvist
Courtesy of Anna NordqvistAfter a hard-fought victory, there was plenty of reason for Anna Nordqvist to celebrate.

I loved being back in competition after so many weeks of practice this offseason. My game felt good but a little rusty, as expected, the first week out. I made too many simple mistakes but left Australia with a good feeling going into Thailand.

I really focused there on the positives from my week in Australia. I played some great golf all four days and won the Honda LPGA Thailand, my first LPGA title in a couple of years. I have worked so hard through my ups and downs and couldn’t have done it without my loyal supporters who were there for me through the tough times and made me believe in myself and find the patience to wait for the next one when I almost gave up. The competition nowadays on tour is very tough and winning is only getting harder, but that means the satisfaction of coming out on top is only getting better.

I played with Michelle Wie and world No. 1 Inbee Park the last day. They pushed me really hard to make a run at it on the back nine Sunday, and I’m proud about how I handled the pressure and going into the last hole with a three-shot lead over Inbee. I made quite a few tough decisions this offseason, changing equipment, changing my coach and putting in a lot of extra work on the course and in the gym. Standing on the 18th hole with that trophy made it all worth it!

I received a lot of messages on Twitter, Facebook, texts and emails and I really appreciate the support from everyone! Mentally I was exhausted being in the lead the whole tournament and being pushed so hard late on Sunday. Also it was a very emotional win after fighting so hard for it for so long, so I was really drained by the time I teed it up Thursday in Singapore. I love Singapore and the course but never had the energy or the extra gear mentally to push all the way through the tournament, although I had moments where I played great golf there. Some rest is well needed, physically but mostly mentally.

I am excited to have some time off in Orlando before getting ready to kick off the LPGA season on U.S. soil in two weeks in Phoenix. I lived there for several years while attending Arizona State University, so I am sure excited to head back “home” to Sun Devil territory! I’ll be busy doing some media, outings, catching up with my coach and my friends, practicing and working out. But the next couple of days I look forward to some rest and getting back to a normal time schedule and dealing with 13 hours of jet lag.

Until next time, follow me on Twitter, @ANordqvist, for daily insights into my life on tour.







A little golf, a lot of adventure

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
3:33
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Jessica KordaAndrew Redington/Getty ImagesJessica Korda's dream job takes her to some pretty cool locales, such as this course in Singapore.

I've decided I was going to change it up a bit and show y'all some pictures from my adventures from these past two weeks instead of boring you with my day-to-day schedule :)

Thailand has the best on-course bush design I've ever seen. My favorite elephants!

 Jessica KordaCourtesy of Jessica Korda

In Singapore eating at a very famous restaurant called No Signboard. Amazing crabs and crocodile and lobster meat!

Jessica KordaCourtesy Jessica Korda

So amazing to have fans that pick me up after a bad day on the course. Have the dream job!

Fan NoteCourtesy of Jessica Korda

GUESS WHO is 21 now! Such a great birthday week in Singapore with my friends.

Jessica KordaCourtesy of Jessica Korda


This onesie best purchase ever

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
12:44
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Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany JohWhat better attire for dinner than a unicorn onesie?

Recently at my gym, a few of the male trainers purchased animal onesies and started sharing numerous Snapchats wearing them. My curiosity was piqued and I immediately started perusing amazon.com for a onesie of my own.

I settled on a lovely, albeit oversized, unicorn onesie that was softer than a bunch of newborn kittens. What started as a harmless joke snowballed into THE GREATEST THING OF ALL TIME.

Our LPGA season started in the Bahamas (not exactly onesie weather, but who gives?). The tournament site was Atlantis resort, and the majority of the players stayed there. The first night I decided to wear the onesie out to dinner. (At this point, my roommate Vicky Hurst had named it "Sir Cherry Bon Bon,’’ but for the sake of my carpal tunnel we'll abbreviate it to SCBB.) Walking through the casino, SCBB was a major hit, getting rubbed by many gamblers at the blackjack tables and roulette wheel (for luck, I'm sure … kind of). After the warm reception it got, I continued to wear SCBB out to dinner for the rest of the week.

I think the biggest lesson learned was: Wearing a unicorn onesie and walking with a bunch of friends = funny. Wearing a unicorn onesie while eating a sandwich alone and staring out the window of a Quiznos = creepy.

Michelle WieCourtesy Tiffany Joh

Clowning around with Michelle Wie = FUNNY

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

Watching people walk through the lobby = CREEPY

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

As the novelty of wearing a unicorn onesie out to dinner soon wore off, my roommate and I sought to find more creative ways to utilize SCBB. It started innocently enough, stuffing SCBB with pillows and leaving him for the maid service.

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

Then it escalated…

Tiffany JohCourtesy Tiffany Joh

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

BEST. PURCHASE. EVER.

And just in case you're sitting in front of your computer, pulling out your eyebrow hairs and thinking, "DID THIS GIRL EVEN PLAY GOLF THIS WEEK? I THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOLF BLOG!" First of all, calm your face. Second, I ended up finishing T30th, despite the airline losing my golf clubs until just before the first round. (This is a story for another blog. I felt that my unicorn onesie took precedent over my equipment debacle.)

Oh yeah, and I ordered a dinosaur onesie on the way home … so things are about to get weird. And by weird I mean TOTALLY AWESOME.

Tiffany JohCourtesy of Tiffany Joh

Thanks for reading!

TJ Rex out.









Working hard with my coaches

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
1:28
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Ryann O'TooleHarry How/Getty ImageRyann O'Toole didn't take up golf until age 12, but from that moment on, it was all she wanted to do.

Hi everyone, my name is Ryann O'Toole, and I am a member of the LPGA Tour. Not only is this my first blog with espnW, this is my first blog ever! I am pumped to have this privilege to share my adventures this coming season: ups and downs (let's hope not too many downs), lessons I learn along the way, tips on the course and in the gym, what kind of training I do, and whatever else you want to know about me!

I have just begun my fourth year on tour. I began playing golf when I was 12. Family friends took me to a junior lesson at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course in California with teaching professional Rocky Rafkin. It was the first time I picked up a club or saw a course, but this $5, 30-minute group lesson changed my life forever. From that moment on there was nothing else I wanted to do.

I did, however, play other sports at the time. I've probably played every team sport possible: basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, roller hockey, volleyball. I was also a big skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder and wakeboarder. Anything with a board came fairly easily, and then there was golf!

[+] EnlargeRyann O'Toole
Courtesy of Ryann O'TooleAny sport with a board comes easily for Ryann O'Toole.

I have never done something else that challenges me in every way possible. Not only is golf physically demanding, it is mentally one of the hardest sports out there. I have played with many top professional athletes, past presidents, CEOs of multimillion- and billion-dollar companies, all of whom say golf challenges them in ways no other sport does. Golf is truly an amazing game, and I am blessed to have it be such a huge part of my life.

The Olympics had me thinking that not a day goes by that I don't think about golf, or want to get a club in my hand. Can you imagine training for almost four years for just one moment? These athletes over in Sochi are doing just that, pouring their heart and soul and everything they've done for the past four years into this one event. Crazy, because whether they win or lose, the moment it’s all over they’re right back to training.

I bring this up is because I now have a month away from competition, which is about as much time as we have off in our offseason. Here are these amazing Olympians who train for four years before they can let it shine. I believe it takes great mental strength to go that long prepping for one single event.

I began to piece together what their practice and preparation might be, how they manage and build over that time period so they can peak at the right moment. Rather than thinking about the lack of competition I am getting by missing two events, I am strategizing and thinking like an Olympian. Over the next four weeks I will be prepping for two events, hopefully three in a row. I will use my time wisely to ensure that I am not only physically but mentally ready to tee it up that Thursday in Phoenix at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup.

I will work hard with my swing coach, Brad Brewer, the next two weeks on a few key changes, and then taper back the changes for the last two weeks and find a comfortable rhythm I can become confident with to take into competition. I will use those last two weeks to key on a "go-to shot," a shot I can rely on under pressure.

Also, these next four weeks I will be working with my mental coach, Dr. Bhrett McCabe. Our focus will be on spiking my heart rate and teaching me to slow down and get control of my nerves so I can hit a controlled shot. The second thing we will work hard on is my visualization. When going through big swing changes, you tend to see shots of all shapes, and sometimes shots you never thought you'd hit. Now that my changes are starting to set in, and I am producing good shots, I need to start seeing and believing I can hit the shot I want.

Lastly, but never forgotten, I will be working with my trainer, Andrea Doddato, on strengthening the areas that need a little extra work. Swing changes involve making moves your body isn’t used to. The gym can really help speed up this process. You wouldn't believe that a golfer needs to have a well-balanced body, but we do! It is very important to keep good flexibility and strength in all areas.

My goal these next four weeks is to keep my body as healthy as I can, from eating right to strength training, sprint training, foam rolling, stretching, massage, yoga (great for the mind and body), and surfing twice a week to give my mind a chance to check out and check into something else super cool!







Eager to get in competitive mode

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
12:05
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Anna NordqvistChris Graythen/Getty ImagesAfter a month and a half of practice, Anna Nordqvist is ready to see the hard work pay off on the course.

Hello, everyone!

I am a new face on here. My name is Anna Nordqvist, and I am excited to start blogging about my life as a professional golfer on the LPGA Tour! I hope to share my experiences on and off the course and make you all part of my journey this year.

I am just about to start my sixth year on tour. I was a rookie in 2009 and time flies!

I grew up in Sweden before coming to the U.S. in 2006 to attend Arizona State University. I now base myself in Orlando, Fla., and after so many years in the U.S. I would say I now consider this to be “home.” I could never have dreamt about the adventure I was getting myself into when I brought my golf bag and two suitcases and moved 5,000 miles from home after high school.

I am now on my way to Melbourne, Australia, to start the 2014 season down under at the Australian Open. This time around we play three weeks in a row -- Australia, Thailand and Singapore. I played my last event in Taiwan in mid-December last year, so I am very keen to get back at it and get in competition mode again. As much as I love to practice, nothing beats seeing all the hard work pay off on the course.

We travel a lot on the LPGA Tour. It can be tough being all over the place, but I consider myself lucky to get the opportunity to travel the world for a living. Most of the time we only see the airports, the hotel, the golf course and the way between them, but I try to explore the countries as much as I can.

Melbourne is probably my favorite city in the world, so I have been excited for this trip since last year when I found out we were going back there. It is a 15-hour flight from LA, but the food is great, the people are so genuine and nice and the city has a great atmosphere.

I spent the last month and a half preparing, practicing and working out at home in Florida. It has been a very cold winter this year, reminding me of all those days during the winters in Sweden growing up when I put on four or five layers of clothes to go outside in 20 degrees and snow to practice. The weather has never been an advantage for Swedes, although we have so many good golfers despite only a six-seven month season. I guess you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

I love sports more than anything. I didn’t start playing golf until I was 13 but probably played or tried every other sport up to that point. I love playing tennis on my days off, watching sports or heading out paddleboarding.

With the Olympics going on in Russia at the moment, I will try to watch as much as possible. It is so inspiring watching other athletes compete at the highest level, plus it gives me motivation now that golf has been added to the Olympics and I have a chance to play in Rio in 2016!

Sweden has many great skiers competing in Russia, not to mention our hockey team. My caddie is Canadian and I would really like to see my fellow Swedes take down the Canadians! I already told him he can’t wear any red or white on the course for the next couple of weeks.

I look forward to sharing my experiences from these couple of weeks when I get back. Until then -- Go Sweden!




Feeling excited after second win

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
2:17
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Hi, y’all! My name is Jessica Korda, and I play on the LPGA Tour. I’m just coming off my second win on the tour, so I’m pretty excited to blog and share it with all you espnW readers.

I went through a couple of changes this offseason that I think are going to push me to be a better and healthier player. I cannot believe I am starting my fourth year on tour (crazy). I feel as if I still should be in high school or something. My 21st birthday is coming up next month, so for me to be where I am in my career, I have to consider myself as blessed as can be.

[+] EnlargeJessica Korda
AP Photo/Tim AylenJust 20 and in her fourth year on tour, Jessica Korda now has two LPGA wins.

The Bahamas is an incredible place. The water is so crystal blue and the sand is so beautifully white and soft, it’s easy to fall in love with it at first sight. However, I wasn't there for the views, no matter how mesmerizing they were!

The course was set up great for my game -- lots of birdies to be made. On the final day when I was on my 14th hole, I saw that Stacy Lewis was 7 under on the day. I turned to my caddie, Kyle, and told him that 7 under was a really impressive number because the course wasn't playing that easy on Sunday. He looked at me with a serious face and told me that we should try to get to that number, too.

So, on 15 we decided I was better off trying to get to the green in two (play aggressively). The worst case, I would just have a chip at it. When I saw that I had a 35-yard touchy chip shot, I was so happy my coach and I had spent a couple of hours this offseason practicing those to get me better at it. Ask me to hit that shot last year, and I would be better off putting it.

After a birdie on 15, I made a solid par save on 16 with a 6-foot putt. Walking off the green, I saw I was one shot off the lead with two holes left to play. I was super excited!

I knew what I had to do. If I wanted this I had to make back-to-back birdies. I’m not going to lie, that 6-foot left-to-right slider I had on the 18th hole made me so nervous. But I just did what I've been practicing all these years, and let me tell you, draining it straight in the heart of the hole was the best feeling ever!

It was a fun battle between myself and Stacy, and I hope in the future we have many more.

For now, I'm signing off. Bye, USA, I’m off to Australia!


video

Michelle Wie cards a 24

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
8:39
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Michelle WieAP Photo/Chris CarlsonMichelle Wie has won nearly $3 million in official prize money on the LPGA Tour but has earned multiples of that in endorsements.

Golfer Michelle Wie celebrates her 24th birthday today. Born on Oct. 11, 1989, in Hawaii, Wie turned professional as a 15-year-old in 2005. By that time, she already had hit some major milestones. At the age of 10 in 2000, Wie became the youngest to qualify for the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She competed in her first LPGA event in 2002 when she was 12. In 2003, at the age of 13, Wie became the youngest USGA champion in an adult event when she won the Public Links. She also played in seven events on the LPGA Tour in 2003, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she finished tied for ninth. In 2004, she played in seven LPGA tournaments and finished in the top 20 in six of them. She also competed against the men at the Sony Open, where she shot a second-round 68 but missed the cut. Before turning pro in 2005, Wie was the runner-up at the 2005 LPGA Championship and tied for third at the 2005 British Open. Wie won her first of two LPGA titles at the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Her other win came at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2010. She graduated from Stanford in 2012 with a degree in communications. So far in 2013, she has two top 10s, including a tie for ninth at the LPGA Championship in June.

5 things to love about Solheim

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
3:55
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2009  U.S. Solheim Cup teamChris Graythen/Getty ImagesRowdy Foudy first attended a Solheim Cup in 2009 in Sugar Grove, Ill., when Beth Daniel captained the U.S. team to victory.

Some of my U.S. national team teammates and I have been friends with fellow old bag LPGA golfers for many years. It all started over a few pints with Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel in Denver back in 1998, and since then, we have been LPGA groupies.

Outside of the many LPGA tournaments we crashed, we also attended (and behaved) at Beth’s Hall of Fame ceremony in 2000. And now, we will attend (and most likely not behave) at our second Solheim Cup, starting Friday in Denver, with our Nutmeg Mallon as the captain of the U.S. team. (Our first Solheim Cup was when Beth captained the U.S. team to victory in Sugar Grove, Ill., in 2009.)

In honor of our fellow team USAers, Meg, and Beth, here are 5 things I love about the Solheim Cup:

1. I can lose the dreaded polite golf clap and hoot and holler in true hooligan fashion. The golf clap never quite suited my Rowdy Foudy DNA, so I feel much more at home at the Solheim Cup, where loud cheering is not only permitted, but expected. Amen to that.

2. In a sport that exists on gut-wrenching solo play -- all day, every day -- to watch individuals come together as a team and play for their country is truly special.

3. There are not many things better than watching the U.S. take on the Euros. Maybe it’s not quite the American Revolution, but I do always enjoy some good-natured jabs at our Euro friends. Plus, it gives me an excuse to pull out my stars and stripes Wonder Woman onesie … and wear my Dr. Seuss hat.

4. Any time athletes such as American Brittany Lincicome talk about being so nervous they are going to throw up, I am watching. This matters.

5. The USA is undefeated (6-0) when it plays on this side of the pond. Here is to being on the course, on home soil, cheering like a crazy woman alongside about 500 other Mallon Maniacs (and that is all Meg’s immediate family -- Irish Catholics -- need I say more.)

Apologies in advance to people in the neighboring states of Colorado who can hear us chanting the next three days ... Go, USA, Go!




We get to be a team, and it's fun

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
12:12
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Angela StanfordAP Photo/Mike GrollAngela Stanford grew up playing team sports and looks forward to the Solheim Cup more than any event.

Texas native Angela Stanford, 35, has won five LPGA titles and nearly $8 million in her career. She has five top-10 finishes in 2013 and tied for 17th at last week’s Women’s British Open. Stanford will represent the United States in her favorite event, the Solheim Cup, Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver. It will be her fifth Solheim appearance.

The Solheim Cup is shaping up to be a very competitive event. Now that Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang are in for the U.S. team, their additions give us more experience. I was a little worried earlier this year that we were going to have five or six Solheim rookies; instead we will have four.

It’s nice to see those who have been on the team before playing well. But I’ve always said you need some rookies. So I’m excited about playing with first-timers Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas and Gerina Piller.

I’ll have some words for them before we start, mostly about attitude. If you’re hanging your head, your partner feels that. But looking at these younger players, they are so confident -- more than I was, when I was young. They are just a different breed that way.

When it comes to captain’s picks, you can’t just go by golf stats; there have to be intangibles. I think Gerina is a great personality for the team, besides the fact that she bombs it on the golf course. And “Weasel” -- Michelle Wie -- I’ve always said I would take her as a partner any day of the week.

In this sense, match play is very different. If you look at Michelle’s scorecard, I’m going to guess she often has between three and five birdies every round. And if she has a partner out there who’s making pars on the holes she doesn’t, it makes a lot of sense. And she has experience at Solheim; she’s still pretty intimidating, especially in a format like this.

Speaking of partners, I can play with anybody at the Solheim Cup, but I really enjoy playing with fellow Texan Brittany Lang. Her personality helps me. My all-time favorite partner was Pat Hurst.

Over time, I’ve learned what personalities I fit best with. I think I am probably a little more serious and more emotional out there. Brittany, every time I see her, always has a big smile on her face; she has this confidence and ease about her. Pat was kind of the same way.

With partners like that, I feel like I can go at pins, maybe take some risks, because they always say, “That’s fine, we’ll get this. Don’t worry, hit it where it goes, and we’ll go find it and hit again.” That’s not usually the way I go about it; I’m more cautious and analytical.

I used to carry bad days with me all night. It gets really hard if you are like that. I’ve kind of learned how to accept what happened, figure out how to fix it and leave it at the golf course. And how to come back and do it again the next day. I seem to be a little happier. I’ve had a hard time doing it, but Juli Inkster tells me all the time to let bad shots go. You’ve got to go hit the next one.

Ultimately, I absolutely love the Solheim Cup. I grew up playing team sports, and it is the one tournament I look forward to more than any other. We get to be a team, and that’s fun.



Swings of emotion for U.S. golf

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
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A couple of thoughts as ESPN's three weeks of live golf from the United Kingdom come to a close and the U.S. women attempt to regain the Solheim Cup next week in suburban Denver.

1. Can we finally put to rest the assumption that Americans are at a disadvantage playing links golf?

Scottish Open champion at Castle Stuart the week preceding the Open Championship: Phil Mickelson. Open champion at Muirfield: Phil Mickelson. Senior Open champion at Royal Birkdale: Mark Wiebe. Women's British Open champion at the St. Andrews Old Course: Stacy Lewis. Four-for-four for the USA on courses where the traditional default comment has been that players from the U.K., Ireland and Europe have a distinct advantage on the firm, rolling seaside layouts because they have played them more often.

[+] EnlargeStacy Lewis
David Cannon/Getty ImagesStacy Lewis' love affair with St. Andrews began five years ago when she walked the course before the Curtis Cup.

What these three American players did was learn to adapt their equipment (Mickelson didn't even carry a driver), attitudes and shot shapes to the tests they faced. Mickelson learned, after 19 failed attempts at the Open Championship, to play shots with a lower trajectory and let those sometimes-crazy bounces come with a more "That's just what happens in links golf" attitude.

Wiebe, who didn't even arrive on site until less than 48 hours before his first-round tee time due to air-travel issues, seemed more concerned about his son Gunner's performance in the Colorado Open than his own in senior golf's last major of the season. With a preferred shot shape (left to right) that didn't fit Royal Birkdale's closing holes particularly well, he fired at flags when he could and played conservatively when he couldn't, eventually letting Bernhard Langer's double-bogey on the last hole in regulation open the door for his playoff victory.

Lewis traced her win to a walk in the rain when she first saw St. Andrews five years ago during the Curtis Cup. Being on the course without clubs allowed her to absorb and embrace the subtleties and quirkiness of the Scottish layout. A love affair began that would see her go 5-0 in that amateur match-play competition, and then this past Sunday close with two fabulous birdies to win her second career major and stop the Asian domination of the LPGA's majors at 10 straight.

2. There is NOTHING easy about being involved in selecting a team to bring the Solheim Cup back to the USA, even when you've never lost on home soil.

[+] EnlargeMichelle Wie
David Cannon/Getty ImagesWill being a captain's pick for the U.S. Solheim Cup team jump-start Michelle Wie's career?

As one of two assistant captains to Meg Mallon, I can promise you Sunday was as gut-wrenching a day as I've had in quite some time.

With a new formula for choosing the American team (eight from a two-year point-earning process, the next two from the Rolex world rankings and then two at-large captain's picks), there were six players who could have actively impacted the points, rankings and selections in just the last nine holes.

I was calling the tournament from the analyst's position and at the same time crunching numbers, watching texts and emails fly in during commercial breaks as Meg and my fellow assistant, Laura Diaz, began the final decision-making process. Neither Meg nor I was ever a captain's pick in our Solheim Cup careers, making the entire experience even more emotional as we had to tell players whether they were in or out.

The brutally difficult decisions to tell players they were off the team, though, were outweighed by the reactions of our two picks, Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie.

Piller's reaction was like she had won the Miss America pageant -- the shocked gasp, hands up over the face and then a flood of tears as she started to comprehend what she had just been told. Meg went with her gut and more recent performance/improvement, as well as team chemistry, as the basis for both picks, but she was fully aware that both were going to raise some questions. Piller has never been on a stage as big as the Solheim Cup but comes with a background in team sports, positive energy and limitless physical abilities.

Now a captain's pick for the second time in her third Solheim Cup appearance (she was also a pick in 2009), Wie brings with her power that will fit a big, wide-open golf course; experience; confidence on the rise; and promise. There's no way to tell if she will ever live up to the potential she showed as a teenage amateur contending regularly in professional majors, but here is captain Mallon's hope: that Wie responds as positively as Adam Scott did when Greg Norman, as International captain, picked him for the 2009 Presidents Cup team.

Scott was falling through the rankings like a rock, going through a swing change, and didn't appear to bring a whole lot of positives to the team based on his form at the time. That pick literally turned Scott's career around, and he is now a major champion. Meg is hopeful that selecting Wie will have the same impact ... and, oh by the way, that we get the Solheim Cup back to this side of the pond, too!

Excited for Open but missing kids

July, 31, 2013
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Catriona MatthewWarren Little/Getty ImagesCatriona Matthew hopes the home-course advantage will help her end Inbee Park's streak of major victories this week.

Catriona Matthew is one of two Scottish players in the Women's British Open field at St. Andrews. She's also one of the oldest overall, turning 44 on Aug. 25. The native of Edinburgh has two daughters with her husband, Graeme, the younger of whom was born just 11 weeks before Matthew won the 2009 Women's British Open. Matthew has come the closest of anyone to beating Inbee Park in a major this year, losing to her in a playoff at the LPGA Championship.

My daughters are only 6 and 4; when they were babies, they traveled with us a lot more. This year, I don't think they're actually going to come to any events.

We live about two hours from St. Andrews. They were going to come here, but they decided they'd probably stay home. They know what I do, but I don't think they know what it entails yet. My oldest, Katie, thought she was going to be able to walk down the fairways with me. When she found out she couldn't, she didn't think it would be too exciting to come.

So I usually just travel on my own now, and my husband stays at home a little more. It's always a balancing act. It's difficult being away; I try not to be gone for more than three weeks, then go home for two. I'm stacking up the air miles.

My husband caddied for me for about 18 years; he's doing about a third of my tournaments this year. And I've got another person who does the rest. My husband wanted to be home more with the girls, so it's worked out well. And the grandparents -- we've been very fortunate that the girls get to spend a lot of time with them.

How do you keep playing into your 40s? I work out more than I used to; I go to the gym a lot. Also, I concentrate on more "quality" practice. I don't practice as much as I used to, but I'll go do two or three hours and make it worthwhile, rather than just go out for a whole day, where you practice but also wander around chatting with people. You just need to manage your time a little better.

I think any victory now is very difficult to get, and you realize time is not on your side. So any win would be very meaningful.

I played amateur events at St. Andrews when I was younger. I don't know the exact number of rounds I've played here, probably 30 to 40. It's special coming here. I think anyone who plays golf finds St. Andrews very special.

If I were a tourist guide, what are the five places I'd recommend an American visit in Scotland? You'd have to go to St. Andrews. Edinburgh Castle/the Royal Mile. Loch Ness. Oban. And then maybe to the Dornoch area. Although I don't think I'm a great sightseer in Scotland, actually.

Pair of historic sidekicks?

July, 31, 2013
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Beatriz RecariAP Photo/Denis PoroyBeatriz Recari, who won the Kia Classic in March and the Marathon Classic earlier this month, will tee off with Inbee Park at the Women's British Open.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Beatriz Recari could be a part of history this week at the Women’s British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews. They'll definitely be in the spotlight. Ewart Shadoff and Recari will be paired with Inbee Park for the first two rounds this week as Park attempts to become the first player -- male or female -- to win four pro golf majors in a calendar year. Although neither of Park’s playing partners has won a major, both have experience to call upon. Ewart Shadoff, who is still seeking her first LPGA title, has a total of five top-10 finishes in her career. The 25-year-old from Britain finished tied for fourth at the U.S. Women’s Open and was paired with Park in the third round. Recari, a 26-year-old Spaniard, has three career titles. She won the LPGA's most recent event, the Marathon Classic, where Ewart Shadoff finished tied for third.

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