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Golf roundup

Inkster, Creamer give US lead in Solheim Cup

Associated Press / August 22, 2009

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Instead of dancing, Juli Inkster dropped to her knees.

Paula Creamer made a 20-footer late yesterday afternoon to give the United States a 4 1/2-3 1/2 lead at the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove, Ill., and make Inkster the highest-scoring US player in the event’s history. The 49-year-old has scored 17 1/2 points, one more than Meg Mallon, now an assistant captain for the US team.

“About time my partner made a putt,’’ Inkster joked after her and Creamer’s 2-and-1 foursome victory over Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie. “No, it was good. We had some sloppy play in the middle - I did. The thing with alternate shot is, you’ve just got to ham-and-egg it, do the best you can and ride it out. We were fortunate enough to throw a few birdies in there and Paula had a phenomenal putt on 17.’’

Inkster hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since 2006, and her best finish this year is a tie for 11th. But US captain Beth Daniel didn’t hesitate to make her a captain’s pick, and the seven-time major champion reinforced the decision with a critical point against Matthew and Moodie.

The Americans were 3-up after 12 holes, only to see the lead dwindle when Inkster missed par putts on the next two holes. But Inkster is quite possibly the most competitive person on the team, and she responded with a spectacular chip on the par-5 15th, running it a foot past the hole from 120 yards.

After splitting the 16th hole, the worst the Americans could do was a half-point for the match. That would have left them tied with the Europeans, however, and the last thing the US team wanted to do was lose any of its momentum. There are another eight doubles matches today, and the Americans need 14 points to win their third straight Solheim Cup. Europe needs 14 1/2 points to win its first on US soil.

PGA - Chris Riley caught some strange looks from his playing partners for often leaving his driver in his bag. They can’t argue with the results. Riley shot a season-best 63 to move to 11-under 129 and claim a share of the lead with Ryan Moore during an incomplete second round at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

“I’m playing this golf course different than a lot of other guys,’’ Riley said of the Donald Ross-designed layout at Sedgefield Country Club. “The rough’s pretty thick, so I’m just trying to keep the ball in the fairway,’’ he added.

Moore was at 11 under through 17 holes and Jeff Maggert was 10 under with one hole remaining when play was halted shortly after 8 p.m. with 28 players still on the course. The round is scheduled to resume at 7:45 a.m. today, with the cut and new pairings following.

Sergio Garcia had two eagles during his 64 and joined 18-hole leader Bill Haas (69) and Chez Reavie (67) at 131. Kevin Stadler (63), Marc Leishman (65), Boo Weekley (67), Johnson Wagner (66), and Fred Couples (66) were at 132.

Riley, who finished 15 holes of Round 1 before play was called due to darkness, completed that round yesterday morning before heading out again.

European - Peter Hedblom shot a second straight 4-under 66 to share the lead with defending champion Darren Clarke at 8 under halfway through the KLM Open in Zandvoort, Netherlands. The pair had a one-stroke lead over a group of five that included Sweden’s Oskar Henningsson (66), Wales’ Bradley Dredge (67), Ireland’s Peter Lawrie (68), England’s Kenneth Ferrie (67), and Australia’s Wade Ormsby (67).

Another 10 players were two shots behind, including first-round co-leader Paul McGinley of Ireland.

Clarke, hoping to become the first player to retain the title since American Bob Byman in 1978, birdied the 10th and 12th holes both days, plus the par-3 15th.

Champions - Brad Bryant is one stroke ahead of defending champion Fred Funk after the first two rounds of the Jeld-Wen Tradition at Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, Ore. Bryant was steady in the second round with an even-par 72 that gave him a 10-under 134 in the fourth of five majors on the tour this year.

Funk shot 67 to reach 9 under through two rounds, while Loren Roberts, John Cook, and Larry Mize were in a group another shot back entering the third round.