The Solheim Cup returns to European shores this month at the stunning Killeen Castle, County Meath, Ireland. The USA defends the title and they’re looking to make it four victories in a row.

Named after Karsten Solheim, the founder of PING golf, the biennial female version of the Ryder Cup is all set to tee off on Thursday, with the European team desperate to shake off the stronghold the American’s have had on it over the past 3 matches.

First played in 1990 at Lake Nona, Florida, the US team has dominated the fixture, currently leading 8-3. Europe has had successes though, most recently at Barseback, Sweden back in 2003, where they convincingly beat a poor American side 17.5 to 10.5. Returning European captain, Alison Nicholas will be hoping to draw on this for motivation, not that the European players should need any, given the record.

It will be a tough job for Nicholas’ women however, as US Captain Rosie Jones has assembled a side packed full of talent, and perhaps more importantly, experience. Three of the world’s top 10 will be in Ireland for the US, including world no.3 and last year’s LPGA Champion, Cristie Kerr. As well as veteran playing assistant captain Juli Inkster and three time Solheim Cuppers’ Paula Creamer and Angela Stanford.

Europe cannot call on this abundance of talent at present, with only four of the side being ranked inside the world’s top 30. That being said, in form Catriona Matthew and Caroline Hedwall will be in Ireland alongside the traditional contingent of Scandinavian players, including world no.2 Suzann Pettersen and world no.19 Maria Hjorth. Whilst England’s Laura Davies will again be available for selection as she prepares to compete in an amazing 12th Solheim Cup.

The golf course itself, with the ancient Killeen Castle in the background, will be a mesmerising setting for fans and players alike. Opened in 2009 and home of the Ladies Irish Open, the Jack Nicklaus designed woodland track is sure to provide a tough test for the some of the world’s best female golfers.

TEAMS:

European Team:

Boeljon, Christel (NL); Davies, Laura (ENG); Gal, Sandra(GER); Gustafson, Sophie (SWE); Hedwall, Caroline (SWE); Hjorth, Maria (SWE); Matthew, Catriona (SCO); Munoz, Azahara (ESP); Nordqvist, Anna (SWE); Pettersen, Suzann (NOR); Reid, Melissa (ENG); Stupples, Karen (ENG).

US Team:
Creamer, Paula; Hurst, Vicky; Inkster, Juli; Kerr, Cristie; Kim, Christina; Lewis, Stacy; Lang, Brittany; Lincicome, Brittany; O’Toole, Ryann; Pressel, Morgan; Stanford, Angela; Wie, Michelle.

VENUE: Killeen Castle Golf Course, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland (30 mins from Dublin)
DATE: Sep 23-25
COURSE STATS: 6587 yards, par 72
FORMAT: 8 Foursomes matches, 8 Fourball matches and 12 Singles matches
CURRENT HOLDERS: USA

TV COVERAGE:
Thurs 22- Opening Ceremony- Live on Sky Sports One, 17.00
Fri 23 – Day One Foursomes and Fourballs- Live on Sky Sports One, 0700
Sat 24- Day Two Foursomes and Fourballs- Live on Sky Sports One, 0700
Sun 25- Day Three Singles- Live on Sky Sports One, 0930

European Player Watch:
Melissa Reid- The young English star had an outstanding amateur career and with two wins already, most recently at the Dutch Open, she’s ready to conquer on the world stage.

US Player Watch:
Michelle Wie- Somehow the Hawaiian is still only 21 and despite her early whirlwind career not quite going to plan, she is back amongst the worlds elite and having tasted victory in the matches in the US two years ago as a rookie, she is one player the European side will certainly not want to face

Key hole: 16th. Par three’s in match play golf usually provide great drama and excitement. This 180 yard short hole over a large stretch of water should certainly be no different. Hitting long irons and hybrids into this daunting green with only a few holes to go will be a severe test of nerve.

Where next?
European Tour –
Austrian Open preview