Solheim Cup preview: USA happy to play up underdog tag
Something has to change for the Americans and, probably for the first time in the competition’s history, they have tagged themselves as self-styled underdogs for this year’s matches.
The loss in Ireland will likely have been seen as an aberration but the record-breaking 18-10 thrashing in 2013 is less easy to overlook. The European team, which included six rookies, went to America and won for the first time which included a whitewash on the Saturday afternoon fourballs.
Brittany Lang, one of Juli Inkster’s captain picks, was the top American scorer in Colorado and she sees Europe as the favourites.
“We’ve lost the last two, so we’re definitely the underdogs.
They played some great golf the last two Solheim Cups, it’s been really impressive to watch. And we’re going to have to play really good,” the Texan said.
One of Inkster’s tactics will be to adopt a version of Paul Azinger’s pod system from Valhalla in 2008, another will be to try and treat it like any normal week on Tour.
“If you don’t play 18 holes practice round, you don’t need to go out there and play 18 holes for three days in a row. If you don’t have your husband on the range during warm-up at a regular tournament, he doesn’t need to be there during Solheim. If you’re only allowed an hour, just allow an hour, there’s no reason to get there anytime sooner.
“I’m just trying to keep them on their regular schedule of what they do during a tournament. Try not to make it any bigger than it is. Their practice schedule is on them this week. They know how to prepare for a tournament.”
“I would just look ridiculous with a ribbon in my hair” – Mel Reid
Stacy Lewis remains the visitors’ best player and has played on the last two teams, winning just twice in eight starts. She likens the Solheim Cup to playing on the biggest stage at the business end of things.
“I think it’s like playing the 18th hole of a Major over and over again. That’s the kind of pressure you feel on every single shot on every single hole. And a lot of it, it’s kind of self-induced, because you want to play well for your team-mates. The hardest part about a Solheim is finding that balance of wanting to play well for your team-mates, but also not pushing yourself too hard.”
Another of Inkster’s changes will be less rah-rah which means very little emphasis on face paint and ornate fingernails – something that has never been much of a consideration in the European camp.
And definitely not for England’s Mel Reid.
“I stopped doing that when I was about 12. It’s just an American thing. It’s nothing against what they do. We just don’t – I would just look ridiculous with a ribbon in my hair, personally, so I just don’t choose to do it. It’s just something the European team has never really done. It’s just something they’ve always done,” explained the Derby girl.
Reid, playing in her second match, will face an emotional week with her mum having been killed in a car crash at a tournament in Germany in May 2012. She has been back twice, and didn’t want to be there, but she hopes this week will bring some sort of closure.
“This is the week to make fresh memories. That’s why it’s important that my dad is coming out on Thursday. And my brother and sister and their families are coming out and a few of my friends. I wanted as many people here as possible to kind of help me through this,” she added.
“It’s not just going to be a special week for me, but a very special week for everybody else that’s been involved in the recent times, I guess, and be part of this whole journey.
And hopefully this will be a week to remember and positive memories being here.”
The action gets underway on Friday morning with a round of foursomes. The bookies don’t have America down as underdogs by the way, they have them 8-11 favourites.
But they’ve got it wrong the last two matches.