U.S. players want Solheim Cup back

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U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon has a motivated team ready to defend its home turf at the prestigious biennial international match-play tournament that will be held Aug. 13-18 at Parker's Colorado Golf Club.

Twelve U.S.-born players will challenge 12 European players in three days of match-play competition to see which team will win the Waterford Crystal Cup with a mahogany base that is named for Karsten Solheim, the founder of the manufacturing corporation that makes PING golf equipment.

The U.S. has won eight of the 12 previous Solheim Cups and the Yanks are 6-0 in home matches. However, Europeans stunned the Americans in the weather-delayed singles matches to defeat the U.S., 15-13, and capture the Cup two years ago in Meath, Ireland.

“You know, every Solheim Cup is so close and it's an exciting event, and Ireland was just an unbelievable event and I had some players on the team that are highly motivated,” said Mallon. “They didn't like that taste in their mouth and they are ready to get the Cup back.”

British Open champion Stacy Lewis heads the U.S. team. Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang, Lizette Salas and Morgan Pressel also qualified for team spots via points or rankings. Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie were captain's picks.

Eight of the U.S. players have played in a combined 25 Solheim events and have won 52 points. Creamer is 11-3-5 in four tournaments to garner 13½ points and Kerr is 11-12-3 in six Cups for 13½ points. Pressel has also been one of America's best with a 7-2-2 record in three years.

“We're playing on all cylinders right now and I'm really excited about it,” said Mallon.

Lewis and Creamer didn't retreat from the Europeans' celebrations after their victory in Ireland.

“I wanted to remember what it felt like,” Lewis told GolfChannel.com. “With everything that happened that week, we probably still should have won. We're all ready to go and we want that Cup back.”

Creamer says being on the losing team didn't feel good.

“It was a terrible feeling,” she said. “I'd never been on a team that lost. That's never going to happen again.”

European captain Liselotte Neumann will have players from eight countries on her team that will try to retain the Cup. Eight players were automatically selected via points or rankings.

Those players were Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Carlota Ciganda (Spain), Catriona Matthew (Scotland), Caroline Masson (Germany), Beatriz Recari (Spain), Anna Nordqvist (Sweden), Karine Icher (France) and Azahara Munoz (Spain).

Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England), Caroline Hedwall (Sweden), Giulia Sergas (Italy) and Charley Hull (England) were captain's picks. Hull is 17 years old and the youngest player in Solheim Cup history.

Five golfers on the European team have played in a combined 17 Cups and won a total of 39½ points. Matthew is 11-8-8 and Pettersen 12-8-5 and both have played in six Cups.

More than 120,000 fans are expected to watch and see if the Americans can remain unbeaten at home and regain possession of the Cup.

“We've never won over there (United States), so obviously it's a big challenge,” said Neumann. “I feel like this is really the team that's going to do it for us.

“We've got some young girls, we've got some rookies, so we've got some big strong players and some players that can really hit it, which I think favors us. In Colorado, the golf course is quite generous off the tees, and we were looking for good, long hitters and some girls with great energy and I think this is the team that is going to do it.”

Bicycles welcomed

With Colorado being a well-known haven for outdoor enthusiasts and exercise aficionados, the Solheim Cup is allowing and encouraging golf fans to ride their bicycles to Colorado Golf Club.

Cyclists and anyone attending will be able to ride their bicycles to the course and bike racks will be provided.

Anyone wishing to bike to the event will need to have their tickets in hand and will not be able to purchase tickets upon arrival.

Cyclists will only be allowed to enter Colorado Golf Club via the east gate off Hilltop/Village/Betts Ranch Road. Directional signs will guide them to the correct entrance.

Hickenlooper to speak

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will deliver remarks at the main stage near the clubhouse during opening ceremonies Aug. 15.

“We welcome the Solheim Cup to Colorado and are proud to showcase our state's world-class outdoor recreation opportunities,” Hickenlooper said. “Colorado is the perfect location to host an international golf event, from our excellent fairways to the breathtaking backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, this will be a great experience for players and viewers. We wish both teams the best of luck and hope they enjoy their Colorado experience.”

The ceremonies will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel at 5 p.m. and will feature the appearances of both teams, as well as comments from Mallon and Neumann. Fans are encouraged to attend the ceremony, which will officially kick off the three-day competition.

Ceremonial raisings of the team flags will also be held and both captains will announce their pairings for the first Foursomes matches that will take place Aug. 16.

SOLHEIM CUP SCHEDULE

• Aug. 13

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — U.S. and European team practice

5 to 8:30 p.m. — Solheim After Sundown in Ping Pavilion

• Aug. 14

8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — U.S. and European team practice

6 to 9 p.m. — Gala dinner at Wildlife Experience

• Aug. 15

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — U.S. and European team practice

2 to 5 p.m. — Front Row experience at driving range

2:30 to 4 p.m. — Three-hole PING Pro-Junior Challenge, holes 16-18

3:45 to 4:15 p.m. — Past captain autograph session

5 to 6 p.m. — Opening ceremonies on main stage

• Aug. 16

7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Four Foursomes matches

1 to 5:30 p.m. — Four Four-ball matches

• Aug. 17

7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Four Foursomes matches

1 to 5:30 p.m. — Four Four-ball matches

• Aug. 18

12:30 to 6:30 p.m. — Twelve singles matches

7 to 7:45 p.m. — Closing ceremonies