Golfers gear up for Solheim Cup

Jim Benton
Posted

Some captains and potential players of the European Solheim Cup team recently visited and played the Colorado Golf Club during a week off in the LPGA and European Tour schedules.

The Solheim Cup, the women’s version of the Ryder Cup, pits 12 golfers from the United States against 12 European golfers and is scheduled Aug. 13-18 at the Colorado Golf Club in Parker. Coaches and players met with the media July 2, and almost everyone delivered the same message that anything can happen in match play.

“In match play, anything can happen,” said assistant captain Annika Sorenstam. “Some players feel they are representing their country and continent. They just soak it up and find another gear they might not find in other tournaments.

“It’s a putt here, it’s a shot here, it’s a match turned around.”

The Solheim Cup has a unique match play format. Players will play fourball, in which each player plays their own ball throughout the round. Each hole is won by the two-women team whose player had the lowest score on the hole and the team is awarded a point. If the teams tie, a half-point is given to each team. Foursomes pit two-player teams and the golfers hit alternate shots. A point is awarded each hole to the team with the lowest score.

In the 12 singles matches, all 24 players square off and golfers gain points or halves for each hole. There will be 28 matches played over the three days of the tournament.

Four foursomes matches will be held Aug. 16 starting at 7:30 a.m., with four fourball matches set to begin at 1 p.m. On Aug. 17, foursome and fourball matches are scheduled for the same times.

The 12 singles matches begin at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 18.

There are 28 points up for grabs in the team standings over the three days, with a point awarded for each match won and half point garnered for each match that is tied.

Europe needs 14 points to retain the cup, which it won in 2011 in Meath, Ireland. The Americans would need 14.5 points to earn theirs seventh straight victory on U.S. soil.

Many purists argue that match play is boring because when a team or individual gets a commanding lead, their play tends to be cautious and conservative. However, the format often leads to more aggressive play, especially since each hole is a separate competition.

“It’s (Colorado Golf Club) a great course for match play, especially the back nine from 14 on could be fun holes,” said European captain Liselotte Neumann. “A lot of things could happen on those holes, there are short par 4s and par 5s that you can get on in two shots.

“There are some great holes, especially when it comes to playing maybe the best ball matches. You have 16 when someone might want to go for it. In match play, you can have someone be more aggressive.”

Carlota Ciganda, a former Arizona State golfer from Pamplona, Spain, who turned pro two years ago, played on two European Junior Solheim Cup teams and enjoys match play.

“The whole format is fun, being a team member,” said Ciganda. “Match play is different and this course suits it well because you can take some risks and play it as a match play course. It’s going to be fun.”

Neumann, Sorenstam and assistant captain Carin Koch will have the difficult task of matching partners for the fourball and foursomes matches.

“It’s about finding the right partners you are playing with,” said Sorenstam. “There are times you play with players and you try so hard but it always doesn’t fit.

“I can mention Suzann Pettersen. She’s a top player as an individual. She’s now No. 3 in the world. In the Solheim Cup she really rises to the top and she’s had some opportunities to make some winning putts. She was my partner a few times and together she elevated my game and I elevated her game. That the challenge of the captains, to find the right combinations.”

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