Solheim Cup preview
This week, the best female golfers from Europe and America travel to Colorado Golf Club to contest the Solheim Cup – the biggest event in the women’s golfing calendar.
The Solheim Cup was inaugurated in 1990 after a concerted effort from Karsten Solheim (founder of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, which makes Ping golf clubs), the LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour, who felt the women’s game deserved a Ryder Cup-esque event.
The American team won the first staging at Lake Nona Country Club in Orlando, with Europe bouncing back the following year at Dalmahoy Country Club. But since the Solheim Cup’s inception, the USA has been the dominant force.
Europe claimed a memorable 15-13 victory two years ago at Kileen Castle, but America has won eight of the 12 Solheim Cup matches and three of the last four – a stark contract to Europe’s recent ascendancy in the Ryder Cup.
What’s more, Europe have never won the Solheim Cup on American soil.
This year’s even promises to be an intriguing affair, though. The average age of the American team is just 26.3 – their lowest ever figure – and the European equivalent in 27.6
There are also 10 rookies competing in Colorado – four on the American team and six on the European side.
Venue: Colorado Golf Club, Colorado, USA
Date: August 16-18
Course stats: par 72, 7,604 yards
Defending champions: Europe (15-13)
August 16 – 2pm, Sky Sports 1
August 17 – 2pm, Sky Sports 3
August 18 – 3.30pm, Sky Sports 3
Captain – Liselotte Neumann
Players – Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda, Catriona Matthew, Carolina Masson (European points list), Beatriz Recari, Anna Nordqvist, Karine Icher Azahara Munoz (Rolex World Rankings), Carolina Hedwall, Giulia Sergas, Jodi Eward-Shadoff and Charley Hull (captain’s picks).
One glaring omission from the team is 49-year-old Laura Davies, a Solheim Cup stalwart and the only player to have competed in every contest since the event’s inception. By her own admission, she didn’t play well enough to deserve a place – especially with so many European youngsters excelling themselves.
Hull is one of those players. The 17-year-old will become the youngest player in Solheim Cup history when she tees it up on Friday. She has recorded four top-two finishes in nine events in her rookie season, though, so she clearly has the ability and mentality to succeed at the top level.
The fact that half the European team is comprised of rookies is a slight concern, especially away from home, but the likes of Recari, Masson and Ciganda are in good form and fully deserving of their places in the team.
They are also complemented by players with vast experience – such as major winners Pettersen, Matthew and Nordqvist – who, along with vice-captains Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch, should help the rookies to settle.
Captain – Meg Mallon
Players – Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Christie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang (American points list), Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel (Rolex World Rankings), Michelle Wie and Gerina Piller (Captain’s picks).
There are distinct parallels between the American and European teams, but home advantage, history and a lower average world ranking has led the bookmakers to install the hosts at 2/5 favourites.
Despite the average age, the team is brimming with experience. Creamer, Lewis, Kerr, Stanford and Lincicome are Solheim Cup veterans, and all in good form heading into the contest.
At 18, Thompson will become the youngest women to represent America in the Solheim Cup, but don’t expect her to be overawed. She has won twice since turning professional, most notably at the Navistar LPGA Classic, when she entered the history books as the youngest ever winner of an LPGA Tour event.
It will be a tightly-contested affair, but the Americans look favourites on paper. Still, with so many players making their Solheim Cup debuts and a number of the European team plying their trade on the LPGA Tour, anything could happen. This is matchplay golf, after all.
Where next? Wyndham Championship preview