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Lisa Markwell: America needs a leader but Lisa Pavin just can't fill Elin's Louboutins

The Americans appear to put as much work into the seamless enthusiasm and peerless professionalism of the wives and girlfriends as they do the players. Remember that for more than a decade the ladies have sported matching outfits while they watch their men on the opening day of the Ryder Cup. Hardly cutting edge, the tailored skirt suits and blow-dried tresses always looked chic, if a little conservative.

So it was a surprise to see the arrival of the US posse on Monday – it was the men themselves that struck gold, sartorially. Camel is the colour of the season, so to see the team lined up on the aircraft steps, sporting on-trend camel jackets with what looked like similarly of-the-moment chambray shirts underneath was astounding. The wives? Oh yeah, they wore a muddled array of black, stripes and red. They appear to have lost their fashion mojo.

Perhaps searching for inspiration, the golfing Wags attended a fashion show at the University of Cardiff on Tuesday, but inspiration came there none – although team leader Lisa Pavin was kind enough to say that she might order something, adding weakly, "I loved it, especially as fashion here is so unlike what we have in the US". (It should be noted that the winning students' designs took creatures of the abyss as their theme).

Could it be that Team US is missing the alpha blonde, Elin Nordegren? She was the high benchmark for the womenfolk – her hair naturally light, her figure a perfect example of what male commentators call (in public) "trim". If she was the model against whom all the other Wags were measured, it's quite possible that Mrs Pavin, Kuchar, Watson, Furyk et al muttered a quiet "thank you" when the Woods' divorce came through. No more wondering if the outfits that Elin chose in size zero were also available in size 14.

But the popular press, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so somebody is required to step into Elin's empty Louboutins. Team captain Corey Pavin must have sanctioned his wife Lisa's bid for glory; a cover shot for Avid Golfer magazine, draped suggestively in just a flag, but it doesn't quite come off, just like her favoured description as "Captainess".

Meanwhile Kandi Harris, girlfriend of Hunter Mahan, used to be a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys and can rock a pair of white hotpants, but that cuts no ice in the clubhouse, where demure frocks and kitten heels are usual attire.

Top of the leader board is Christina Zimmer, girlfriend of Jeff Overton. She's beautiful and elegant, if the few publicity shots being circulated are anything to go by. She's also a mezzo-soprano opera singer, which ranks with Scandinavian nanny as adding an air of mystery to the proceedings. She may be the most Elin-esque of the pack, but has done little to push herself into the consciousness of America's commentators. She's only tweeted six times, for goodness sake, and her opinions on Manolo Blahnik, boot-cut jeans and Chanel handbags, if she has any, are unspoken. Perhaps she's nervous of becoming the emblematic sporting wife, which is a bit of a poisoned chalice these days. And so it's left to the players themselves to act as fashion icons...