September 19, 2011
Solheim Cup can turn into a cat fight
By IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency
The testosterone-driven GOLF (Guys Only, Ladies Forbidden) folks who picture themselves as a dude named Tiger or Bubba launching one 300 yards down the middle likely has this week’s alleged Super Bowl, otherwise known as the Tour Championship, on the radar.
If they can somehow get past the power game on the PGA Tour — but so unattainable to most who envy it — there is an alternative that won’t conflict this week, even if they don’t tell their buddies they’re checking it out.
The women’s version of the Ryder Cup will likely provide a truly intense playoff atmosphere when the Solheim Cup starts Friday at Killeen Castle in Ireland, if passion from the past is any indication.
And you need look no further than a now-retired irritant named Dottie Pepper as a perfect example.
You can talk about Ryder Cup moments such as the War by the Shore at Kiawah Island or the over-exuberant U.S. celebration in 1999 at Brookline as European annoyances over the years, but Pepper also earned her place as a nasty troll in Solheim Cup history.
In 1994, for example, she blurted out the word: “Yes!” when England’s Laura Davies missed a putt in a close match against Pepper.
When asked about European reaction to her breach of etiquette, Pepper replied: “I really don’t care.”
Four years later, normally mild-mannered and classy Swede Annika Sorenstam put a photo of Pepper on a punching bag in the European room, one assumes so players could take their shots.
It’s worth noting that Pepper went undefeated that year. She won 70% of her matches and finished six Solheim Cups with a 13-5-2 record. But not all Solheim Cup controversies directly involved her.
Also in 1998, Sorenstam holed out a chip shot, but she had played out of turn. That faux pas might have been overlooked, but captain Pat Bradley and players Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst made Sorenstam take the shot again, which she missed.
The U.S. holds an 8-3 edge over the Europeans in Solheim Cup play and are slightly favoured once again, but the crowds at Killeen Castle, a Jack Nicklaus design, will reportedly be thick, loud and likely partisan for the Europeans.
There is pride on the line for the Americans, who have seen their traditional dominance on the LPGA Tour watered down by the “Asian invasion” and players from other parts of the world.
Along with a new generation, each team has a throwback to the Pepper era and each earned her way on to her team.
As her 48th birthday approaches, Davies has played in every Solheim Cup, while American Juli Inkster, 51, will also serve as an assistant captain to Rosie Jones.
It will be interesting to see how each shows, not only from a motivational perspective for their respective teams, but also with their play. Those are just two story lines that could be missed if the GOLF crowd removes its blinders.
Former Golf Canada staffer Rich Kuypers has been named tournament director for the new Manulife LPGA Classic, which will be played next June at Grey Solo Golf Club in Waterloo. Kuypers was manager of professional championships at Golf Canada and was assistant tournament director of the CN Canadian Women’s Open … Kuypers didn’t waste much time in getting going on the job. He was in Alabama last week for the Navistar LPGA Classic and hopes to promote the new LPGA Tour event in Waterloo by having some players attend that city’s Oktoberfest celebrations next month … Izzy Beisiegel of St. Hilaire, Que., made news by playing on the men’s Canadian Tour this year, but made her mark on the LPGA Futures Tour, where she received the 2011 Heather Wilbur Spirit Award a week ago. Beisiegel, who had three top-10 finishes this year on the Futures Tour, was diagnosed with Graves Disease in 2005, which threatened her career. She also led the Futures Tour in driving distance this year, averaging 264.661 yards. The award is named after Heather Wilbur of Moncton, who died after a battle with Acute Myelogenic Leukemia (AML) and was the first recipient in 2003.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Why is anything said about Tiger Woods that isn’t a superlative considered an attack on his mojo? Luke Donald found himself in a controversy last week and denies ever saying that the Tiger era was over.
The point he was trying to make is that there are many good, young players coming up who will challenge Woods if he ever returns to form. That doesn’t mean Tiger won’t win again. The same holds true for the controversy over him being named to the Presidents Cup team. It isn’t a shot, just an observation that this time around, others deserve a chance more than Tiger based on performance.
Here’s the reasoning for Woods playing in the Presidents Cup: “How could you not pick him?” said Nicklaus. “I mean, he’s Tiger Woods, He’s the best player in the game. He may not be playing his best today, but he’s still Tiger Woods.”
That does look good on the marquee, even if the reality of the past two years don’t back up the Golden Bear, who could also be named to the team with that reasoning. After all, he’s still Jack Nicklaus. Just saying.