Solheim Cup pits USA women against Europeans

By the time you read this article, I will be in Des Moines, Iowa, with seven local golf enthusiasts to enjoy the Solheim Cup, held Aug. 14 to 20 at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club.

This is my sixth Solheim Cup trip, and each has been enjoyable. There is nothing like cheering for the good ol' USA, wearing our red, white and blue outfits and waving the American flag. We will be on the first tee each day cheering with our fellow Americans.

The Solheim Cup is a biennial international competition between the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the Ladies European Tour.

The competition includes foursome matches held Friday and Saturday morning, where two players from each team will play alternate shots using only one ball.

The afternoon matches consist of four-ball competition, where two players from each team play their own ball and the best ball of the two counts.

Sunday's matches will be singles competition, with 12 players from the USA playing 12 players from Europe.

The team with the most points wins the cup. In case of a tie, the previous winner, USA, would take home the cup.

The players are winning at a younger age. Lexi Thompson, the top American player, is only 22 years old. Jessica Korda is 24. Danielle Kang is 25, and Michelle Wie is 27.

Veterans on the USA team include Cristie Kerr, who is playing some of her best golf, as well as Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Gerina Pillar, Brittany Lang and Lizette Salas.

The American captain, Juli Inkster, went with youth for her two captain's picks with Austin Ernst, age 25, and Angel Yin, age 18.

After the teams were announced, Korda had to withdraw, due to an injury. She was replaced by six-time Solheim Cup veteran Paula Creamer, age 31.

The European team has the controversial Suzann Pettersen, who caused quite the scene in Germany when she enforced a penalty on a rookie American player who had picked up a short putt thinking a concession had been granted. It will be interesting to see how the crowds treat Pettersen on American soil.

Other European veterans include Melissa Reid, Carlota Ciganda, Charley Hull, Karine Icher, and Jody Ewart Shadoff. Rookies on the squad are Georgia Hall and Florentyna Parker.

The European captain, Annika Sörenstam, picked Anna Nordqvist, Madeline Sagstrom, Caroline Masson and Emily Pedersen to round out her team.

To me, this Solheim Cup will be about the two captains. Both are World Golf Hall of Fame members. Sörenstam and Inkster are intense competitors and they will be the focus at this year's tournament.

They both hold Solheim Cup records. Inkster has the most singles points won, with seven, and was the oldest player in 2011 at age 51. This is her second time as captain and she definitely wants to stay undefeated.

Sörenstam is second in Solheim Cup total points won, 24, and competed in eight Solheim Cups. In head-to-head singles competition, Inkster beat Sörenstam in 2000.

Annika Sörenstam would love nothing more than to beat Juli Inkster.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com


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