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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Few Thoughts on the Solheim Cup

So much has already been written about the Solheim Cup by the blogs listed in my sidebar -- and who knows who all else -- that I probably can't add much. Still, I have a few thoughts that I'd like to post, if for no other reason than to say, "hey, I said that!"

The depth in women's golf is improving. The European team didn't play anyone more than 4 sessions. The US team played only Creamer and Kerr all 5 rounds -- or would have if Kerr's wrist had held up. And guess what? The singles began with both sides tied and the outcome was in doubt until the last 20 or 30 minutes of play. That bodes well for the game.

The concept of the "work horse player" is dead. You get a higher quality of play when you don't run your best players in the ground and sit players who have potential. With the Euro team's success and the success of the US players who played no more than 4 sessions, I think this practice is just about over. Now if the men would just learn this lesson...

We may be seeing yet another changing of the guard. Caroline Hedwall, who I profiled last week, has already begun establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with. Apparently she's already picked up the nickname "the Viking Laura Davies." Ryann O'Toole, Vicky Hurst, Azahara Munoz, and Melissa Reid also had good showings. (Mel Reid's 1-3-0 record is misleading. She actually played very well.)

Don't misunderstand me -- the older players aren't done yet. It's just that the nature of the media is to look for the newest, hottest property. These players, along with Yani Tseng, are going to get the bulk of the attention. I'm afraid Morgan, Paula, and Jiyai are going to be cast as the veterans now. Heaven help Cristie Kerr and Suzann Pettersen, whom the media will soon be fitting for walkers!

Hedwall and O'Toole may become a great rivalry. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I think these two will become team leaders in the next few years. Both are strong mentally, which is the most important asset in this game. Hedwall has already crossed the biggest skill obstacles to success. O'Toole mainly needs to develop a good course strategy; once she does, she'll have a plan for improving her skills.

The "old girls" aren't washed up yet. Again, I suspect I'm in the minority. I think Laura Davies and Juli Inkster are just suffering from the "we have to change our games to compete" syndrome that kept the men from competing effectively against Tiger for so long. Catriona Matthew is still competitive despite being 42 and having 2 children in the past few years. But Catriona just goes out and plays her game, knowing that she won't be in the mix every tournament... but when she is, look out! She won the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open by 10 strokes earlier this year and smashed Paula Creamer 6&5 in horrible weather last week. If Davies and Inkster reach the same realization, they'll be able to hold their own as well.

Finally, I didn't think the matches "needed saving" but if they did before, they don't now. The European win certainly boosted the competitive nature of the matches and helped the current European rush of confidence, but it didn't change the matches as such. It's just that predicting gloom and doom for the women's game is popular right now. The LPGA and LET, as well as the other assorted tours, are probably in better shape than almost any other women's sport right now. When the Euro team beats the US team on US soil, then talk to me about a change in the matches.

Personally, I enjoyed the matches. I just hope the Presidents Cup will be as exciting.

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