Europe’s women seek a Solheim Cup miracle of their own - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Europe’s women seek a Solheim Cup miracle of their own

Team look to defend their title by registering first ever victory on American soil

Sandwiched between Europe’s epic Ryder Cup wins at Celtic Manor and Medinah was a victory arguably as improbable and indubitably more important. It was delivered by Europe’s women in Ireland, a triumph against the American foe which also doubled as a blood transfusion for the Solheim Cup.

Europe had not won since 2003. The contest was failing as a spectacle under the weight of American dominance. If it were to have a future it needed Europe to land a punch. They did more than that. They fashioned the ultimate climax, retrieving a losing position with a knockout blow on an extraordinary afternoon at Killeen Castle.

Europe climbed off the canvas to come home 15-13. Suzann Pettersen did the Ian Poulter thing, rattling off three straight birdies to beat Michelle Wie one-up. And her fellow Swede Caroline Hedwall, two down with two to play and a captain’s pick this time, did the… yes, she did the Ian Poulter thing, winning the final two holes to claim a half against Ryann O’Toole. Oh, and the weather was worse than Celtic Manor, but never had it mattered less.

That rousing finish saw ratings at the American broadcaster, the Golf Channel, soar by 35 per cent on the numbers generated four years earlier when the contest last took place in Europe. A cable company can do business on numbers like that, and with the spiked interest came the commitment to continue with the show and end talk of scrapping the two-team format in favour of a round-robin event to include a third international team, allowing for the powerful factions from Asia and Australia.

Two years on and Poulter was being button-holed on the putting green at Oak Hill after his final round in the US PGA Championship last weekend to wish his European sisters well in a cheeky address. “Go get ’em, girls,” said Poults.

Europe have neither won in the United States nor retained the trophy so a historic double first is the requirement in Colorado over the next three days if the Cup is to return home with them.

Five members of the team that won so dramatically in Ireland make this selection alongside six rookies, the youngest of whom, Charley Hull, was not born when the inaugural match took place in 1990.

At 17, Hull is the youngest participant ever on either side, and with five runners-up spots on the Ladies European Tour already in her debut season, she brings a fearsome competitive spirit to the piece.

Pettersen, who alongside Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is making her seventh appearance, welcomes the infusion of young blood. “I think it’s healthy for us to have new players coming up,” Pettersen said. “I don’t think it’s a disadvantage to have a lot of Solheim Cup rookies. They’re all out there, and they’re fearless and have nothing to lose.

“I think it’s much better to have that kind of player rather than the experienced ones who put a lot of pressure on themselves and have everything to prove to the rest of the world that they deserved this spot on the team.”

The Americans start as heavy favourites. In rankings and experience they are packing a heap of muscle. When Wie makes it only as a captain’s pick, it gives some indication of the depth of the American talent. Wie seems to have been at the heart of the US game forever, yet she is still only 23. Like many a juvenile starlet co-opted by the system she lost her way through adolescence but is starting to reassert herself on her own terms.

The outstanding American of this vintage is the world No 2 Stacy Lewis, who made up four shots on the back nine at St Andrews to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open a fortnight ago. She has formidable support in fellow twentysomethings Morgan Pressel, who led going into the final day before finishing in a tie for fourth, and Paula Creamer, plus veteran Cristie Kerr.

The American team also includes four rookies, two of whom, Lexi Thompson, 18, and Jessica Korda, 20, are in the Hull category of vaulting ambition.

Central to Europe’s chances are the contributions of Pettersen and Matthew, tied fourth and 11th respectively at St Andrews. Youth is a fine attribute but at some point the babes might just need mothering.

Solheim Cup: How it works

The Solheim Cup follows the same template as the Ryder Cup, featuring two days of fourballs (in which each player plays their own ball) and foursomes (players hit alternate shots using one ball).

Each team selects four pairs per format and the home side decides the order, one format in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Each match is worth one point to the winners or 0.5 each if the match is tied, or halved. The contest ends with 12 singles matches on the third day. 

As holders after winning 15-13 in Ireland in 2011, Europe need 14 points to retain the trophy or 14.5 to win it for the first time in America. The United States lead 8-4 in matches overall.

Kevin Garside

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks