Solheim Cup: Why Europe can defend their title in Germany
A GOOD BET
Back in the day the Europeans were reliant on a handful of players. Now things are very different with the core of the team particularly strong. In Colorado we had six rookies, three of those will make it a second appearance in Germany.
Pairings are already in place and recent memories are good. It would have been unthinkable that Suzann Pettersen would be able to be rested but in Ireland and two years ago she sat out one of the sessions. Previously she had never won a singles in her first five matches; at Killeen she saw off Michelle Wie at the 18th and then halved last time.
This will be an eighth time out for Pettersen and Catriona Matthew. We now hold the aces though bizarrely the bookies have us down as 2-1 chances. You’ll have far worse bets this year by shelling out a few shekels on Team Europe.
LACK OF U.S. WINNERS
Whisper it gently, but this is not a period of American strength. There have been 21 tournaments thus far on the LPGA Tour and only three winners have come from the good old US of A – Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson.
World No 3 Stacy Lewis is their strongest player, and she continues to threaten on a weekly basis but has not won since June 2014. And her Solheim record is poor.
Paula Creamer had assumed the on-course leadership but her form has gone south. Her last two singles have resulted in 6&5 and 5&4 losses and she had to rely on a captain’s pick – Brittany Lang was the other.
The hope is that everyone’s best friend and heroine Juli Inkster can pull the team together and cajole them into something resembling the force of previous years.
WE’VE GOT HEDWALL
Meet Caroline Hedwall, she’s supposedly the 91st best player in the world and hasn’t won on any tour for three years.
She is also the only player in a Ryder or Solheim Cup to win all five matches.
When the captain’s picks were announced at St Andrews two years ago Hedwall strode in looking like she was ready to get the matches started there and then.
Putts finish past the hole and, given half a chance, she will fire at the flag.
She loves the team arena – her record at Oklahoma State was incredible and she was a part of the winning side, alongside Anna Nordqvist and Pernilla Lindberg, in the Espirito Santo Trophy (world amateur team championship) in 2008.
This is the second of two times that Hedwall has needed a captain’s pick. Once the matches get going that won’t matter a jot.
Supposedly the Americans used to have Pettersen down as the most feared opponent, you wouldn’t be surprised if that is now her fellow Scandinavian.
Juli Inkster is liked by everyone and she is already making noises that will appeal to all of us.
Two years ago Suzann Pettersen joked on Twitter, through a funny photo of players sitting around bored, that the Europeans were ’waiting on Americans to get done taking pictures of their nail polish’.
Cue endless (for a day and half anyway) celebrations of Americans waving their painted nails in front of their faces.
Inkster would like less hoopla and would like to see more of a ’lunchbox mentality’.
“Face paint, the rah-rah, I mean, I like a little rah-rah,” she said. “It’s great, the teamsmanship, but I think sometimes it can go over the edge. I think we just need to play golf and maybe be a little more humble.”
The American skipper would like to see more of a back-tobasics approach and more of the habits that work for her players on a weekly basis.
“They’ve got to maybe get rid of some of the outside agencies,” Inkster added.