An unprecedented grueling physical and mental battle awaits Europe’s women’s golf team if they want to see their dreams of a record third consecutive victory over America in the Solheim Cup come true.
However, Suzann Pettersen’s select twelve are ready to give it their all when they face off against the pride of American women’s golf from Friday.
Led by Stacey Lewis, the Yanks are outmatched and equally eager to tame the Finca Cortesin course in Casares in the Andalusia region of southern Spain and force their European rivals into submission on home soil.
This is the eighteenth time that the prestigious Solheim Cup team tournament has been decided.
America leads with ten wins to seven, but the Europeans have won the last two matches and are the favorites to make it three in a row.
According to all weather forecasts, the Solheim Cup battle will be decided in hot and muggy conditions this week.
Unseasonal daily temperatures of over 30 °C are expected, with high humidity testing the players’ fitness.
When it comes to the Finca Cortesin course, there isn’t much better in Spain.
The layout boasts undulating greens as good as any course in the world, while the narrow fairways place a premium on good fairways.
However, a feature of the course is the many steeps that have to be braved all the time and by Sunday will definitely be a factor for anyone who is not top fit.
“I can’t wait to start playing. It’s a tough week with many commitments such as media interviews and meals, as well as a lot of grinding work on the training ground.
“Those who want to be successful will have to manage things well so that on Sunday there is still something left in the tank to come out on top,” says Europe’s hero of 2021, the Irishman Leona Maguire.
Two years ago, as a rookie, Maguire collected 4.5 out of a possible 5 points at Inverness in Ohio for Europe and laid the foundation for her team’s victory.
“Yes, it was nice to play well in Ohio and have success.
“However, this is a new tournament and everything must be planned and executed in advance.
“This is the first time I have played on European soil and I was surprised by the dozens of Irish followers who are already here in Spain to support us,” Maguire said on Monday after her first practice round.
The Irish golf star is considered one of the players who can seal the result for Europe.
“I don’t think about it that way. Every showdown is a game on its own that I want to win.
“I have many teammates who are among the best in the world and can also play a decisive role,” says Maguire about the test ahead.
Europe has eight players ranked among the top forty in the world rankings, but also two who are well outside the top hundred.
It is on these two, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Caroline Hedwall, on whom there will be enormous pressure to perform.
Pedersen won three out of four games in 2021, but is experiencing a difficult season this year. She failed to finish among the top fifteen in the LPGA series once this season.
Hedwall is a great friend of captain Pettersen and will have extra pressure on her to collect points.
In 2013 Hedwall was at her best and she won a total of five points. Since then, however, it has been downhill and in 2019, in her last Solheim appearance, she could not earn a single point.
Her only good game of the 2023 season was at the end of last month when she finished sixth in the Scottish Open. Hopefully it gave her a bit of confidence – she will need it against the mighty Yanks.
Lewis’ American team will not be unhappy at all that they are considered the outsiders to win the title.
“No, it doesn’t matter that we are considered outsiders. We are here to play and compete and hopefully give our best.
“We have a few major champions in our ranks. This means there are people on the team who know how to play golf. It will be a huge battle. Europe has a strong team, but we are ready for what lies ahead,” says Danielle Kang, who only had a set iron to play with on Wednesday after her golf bag was left behind in Amsterdam during her trip to Spain.
She is one of the major champions on the American team.
The others are Nelly Korda, Lilia Vu, Allisen Corpuz and Lexi Thompson.
Thompson is one of the most seasoned players on either team. However, she has been out of action for the last three months and Lewis will be keeping her fingers crossed that her poor play is a thing of the past.
“She is a match winner who never gives up. This is the kind of person I want on my team. Form is temporary and class is permanent. Lexi will be fine,” captain Lewis said of her struggling star.
In the last four Solheim Cup matches, there was no more than two points difference between the winners and losers.
A nerve-racking, nail-biting victory is predicted by experts for Europe.
However, rest assured that the Americans will fight to the end and that their fearless approach may just fuel them to an unexpected victory.
*The biennial team tournament’s opening ceremony takes place on Thursday afternoon.
Eight innings and eight better ball matches will be decided on Friday and Saturday, after which all 24 of the two teams’ players will be involved in twelve singles duels on Sunday.
*The teams are:
Allisen Corpuz, Megan Kang, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang, Andrea Lee, Lilia Vu, Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Rose Zhang, Ally Ewing, Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin.
Celine Boutier, Maja Stark, Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Linn Grant, Charlotte Ciganda, Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom, Gemma Dryburgh, Leona Maguire, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Caroline Hedwall.