US Counts on Home-Field Edge in Solheim Cup

US Counts on Home-Field Edge in Solheim Cup

Europe’s top women golfers know it won’t be easy to hang on to the Solheim Cup against a USA team eager to win the match play duel on their home soil.

“Obviously it’s very difficult, we’ve never won in America and that’s something we want to change,” said Alison Nicholas, who captained the victorious 2011 European Solheim Cup team.

“But it’s always tough because we all know how tough (the Americans) are and how their fans operate over there. I’m sure that won’t detract from what the girls want to do because I know they’ll play hard too.”

The event begins on Friday with foursomes and four-ball matches at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado, 35 kilometres (21 miles) southeast of Denver.

Foursomes and Four-ball matches on Saturday are followed by 12 singles matches on Sunday.

The Americans went into the 2011 edition in County Meath, Ireland as the favourites, having won three straight titles.

The combatants were tied at 8-8 going into Sunday’s singles play, and Europe played superb golf in difficult rain and wind to claim a 15-13 triumph.

“We’ve been waiting for two years to get our Cup back,” said Paula Creamer, who is competing on her fifth US Solheim Cup team. “We’ve never lost on home soil and we’re all very aware of that.

“It’s little bit of added pressure, but I still think we can use our crowds to be great motivators for us and I think we’ll all feed off of that.”

The US squad captained by 18-time LPGA Tour winner Meg Mallon includes four rookies and eight veterans — among them Women’s British Open winner Stacy Lewis. Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie are also back for the Americans. They are joined by rookies Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas and Gerina Piller.

Norway’s Suzann Pettersen said she expected the contest would again come down to Sunday’s singles matches.

“It is always so close on a Sunday,” Pettersen said. “It’s like two or three points either side. The Americans have always been really good at getting those points and flipping it to their side and their victories.”

The European Solheim Cup Team, led by captain Liselotte Neumann, also features both seasoned veterans and eager rookies.

Pettersen, a seven-time European team member, is joined by four of her 2011 teammates in Caroline Hedwall, Catriona Matthew, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz. France’s Karine Icher returns to the team for the first time since 2002.

Six rookies represent Europe — Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Giulia Sergas, Carlota Ciganda, Carolina Masson, Beatriz Recari and Charley Hull, who at 17 is the youngest player to make a Solheim Cup Team.

Hull was a member of last year’s winning Great Britain and Ireland’s Curtis Cup team that defeated the USA at Nairn in Scotland and she played under Neumann at the Junior Solheim Cup team two years ago.

“I think it’s healthy for us to kind of have new players coming up,” Pettersen said.

Teams Europe Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Carlota Ciganda (Spain), Catriona Matthew (Scotland),Caroline Masson (Germany), Beatriz Recari (Spain), Anna Nordqvist (Sweden), Karine Icher (France), Azahara Munoz (Spain), Caroline Hedwall (Sweden), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England), Giulia Sergas (Italy), Charley Hull (England)

USA Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang, Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel, Gerina Piller, Michelle Wie