Solheim Cup Review: The History Girls
1 EUROPE SUPERIOR THROUGHOUT
It is tough to win away; even the Americans have only done it twice. Having never done it before Europe then recorded the biggest winning margin in the history of the competition.
You don’t do that by merely ‘holing more putts’, you win by a margin of eight points by having the strongest and deepest team, by outplaying your opponents from tee to green and by getting your pairings (and wildcards) absolutely spot on.
Everybody contributed at least half a point, only one player was required to play in every session – and there was no way that Caroline Hedwall was going to be left out. And yes, we did putt better.
People will point to an over- flattering scoreline in the months to come, in truth it really wasn’t.
2 THE EMPHASIS WAS ON FUN
When we spoke to Lotta Neumann at the start of this year the word that kept being repeated was ‘fun’.
Generally players play their best when they are most relaxed and huge efforts were put in behind the scenes to ensure this happened.
In February the captain was putting together a play list for the team bus. Six months later that play list was the backdrop for the Spaniards to put on a display of their native dancing in the aisles of the bus on the way back to the hotel after a successful opening day.
We’ll never know the half of what goes on behind the scenes but, judging by what happened out on the course, the captain and all her helpers got it spot on. Let’s hope that captain Neumann agrees to another term in office.
3 WE ROLLED WITH THE PUNCHES
Every Solheim Cup there will be a spark of controversy and it came on the first afternoon when Carlota Ciganda was given an incorrect drop after an insufferable 27-minute wait at the 15th. The key is how to react to such annoyances.
What should be remembered is the brilliant pitch and putt by the Spaniard while the Americans didn’t win another hole all day.
Their noses were again put out of joint when Jodi Ewart- Shadoff ’s caddy conceded a putt just as Paula Creamer was about to hit. It was wrong, untimely and equally as uncomfortable for the Europeans but they were immediately back among the birdies.
This time the European focus was perfect and the will to win too much.
4 THE ROOKIES WERE OUTSTANDING
This was the fifth time in Solheim Cup history that the team with more rookies has won the cup, it also happened in 1994, 2000, 2007 and 2011.
Alison Nicholas used three of her four picks to include newcomers, as did Neumann despite already having two in the side. The six European rookies posted a combined 12-5-2 record this week compared to a 2-7-4 record from the four US rookies.
There seems to be some perceived wisdom that if you haven’t been there before then there is a good chance that you will disintegrate.
True, the first match is tremendously stressful, Jessica Korda was sick halfway down her 1st fairway, but the second time around is far more pleasant. Ask Hull, Ewart- Shadoff or Ciganda.
One player entered the room with a look that wasn’t embarrassed or sheepish – even two weeks before the start of the matches Caroline Hedwall had the look of meaning business 5 CLINICAL AT THE BUSINESS END
Of the matches that went to the last three holes Europe won 17 of them, the United States just 10.
Anna Nordqvist closed out the Saturday morning foursomes with the first ever ace and the others followed in almost as clinical fashion.
While the Swede’s shot was the closest at the penultimate hole, Hull’s follow up inside Thompson’s tee shot to six feet was maybe the shot of the three days.
Thompson then missed, Charley holed.
At the closing hole all the birdies came from the Europeans: Matthew and Masson in the foursomes, Ciganda and then Icher in the fourballs and both Sergas and Hedwall in the singles.
When it really mattered the most adjacent approaches and nerveless putts came from the visitors.
6 THE AMERICANS ARE NOT THAT GOOD
To take nothing away from the European effort this was not the best American team, either on paper or out on the course. In the past we have had to deal with multiple Major champions and LPGA winners, this year only Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr have won.
Salas, Piller, Lang, Pressel, Wie, Korda and Thompson have just seven LPGA wins between them and Lincicome and Creamer haven’t been in the winner’s circle for two and three years respectively.
Thanks to the Asian dominance and events at Killeen Castle there is less of the stargazing and inferiority complexes that might have existed in years gone by.
Only Lewis is inside the world’s top 10 and the average ranking is 32 for the Americans and 40 for the Europeans – and that includes Hull’s lowly position of 147th.
7 HEDWALL IS SOMETHING ELSE
When the two teams were introduced at St Andrews the Americans, generally speaking, were the louder and the Europeans more understated and slightly embarrassed.
One player entered the room with a look that wasn’t embarrassed or sheepish – even two weeks before the start of the matches Caroline Hedwall had the look of meaning business.
The Swede is made for this arena. At Killeen Castle her first two matches were done by the 14th, on the Sunday she snatched a crucial half winning the last two holes.
With the heat in Denver, a vast walking course and the cut and thrust of the biggest week of the year nobody else was trusted with five matches.
The 24-year-old did, her final hole was a birdie and she won the lot, something that has never been done before.
8 CHARLEY WAS A LAW UNTO HERSELF
Where to start? Charley Hull is still eligible to play in the Junior Solheim Cup, last year she was part of the winning Curtis Cup side in Scotland.
This year she became the youngest player ever to play in a Solheim Cup and she very quickly integrated herself into the team, both with her play and her unaffected charms.
On the 1st tee of her first Solheim match, in the key second singles match out, she shook hands with her opponent Creamer and said: “You look nice today.”
Then, having dished out a 5&4 battering, she asked the American to autograph her ball for a friend.
The competition has thrown up all sorts over the years, this was something else altogether.
The Americans can expect to see a lot more of Hull over the coming years and this was the perfect introduction