Europe and the USA renew hostilities from August 14-20. Here are the five things you need to know.
IT’S BEING PLAYED OVER TWO COURSES
The 15th Solheim Cup is being played at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa, a club with two Pete Dye-designed 18-hole courses. The course will be a hybrid of the two 18s. The 1st to 9th are the 10th to 18th from the North Course. The 10th-16th are the 1st to 7th from the South Course, which also provides the 17th and 18th holes. Combined, the composite will play 6,894 yards at par 72. “The golf course is going to hold its own. Very, very tricky greens,” US captain Juli Inkster said. “You’re going to have to be pinpoint on your irons. You’re going to have to be able to make some putts. So right after that British Open I’m going to give those guys a little homework and they’re going to start working on their putting.”
EUROPE GO IN HOPE NOT EXPECTATION
Qualifying ends after the Ricoh Women’s British Open on August 6, when the 12 names (10 automatic plus two captain’s picks) secure their places. At the time of going to press, on paper, the United States has a clear edge. All 12 of the players in their top eight automatic places are ranked inside the world’s top 50 – compared with only four of Europe’s. Right now, America’s average ranking is 24.25, Europe’s more than twice as high at 59.625. Solheim Cups are not played on paper and they are only numbers, but it’s cause for concern.
NOBODY MENTION ‘THAT PUTT’
The Suzann PettersenAlison Lee incident at St Leon-Rot left a black cloud hanging over America’s remarkable victory in 2015 – the Norwegian’s refusal to concede a short putt almost causing a riot. Can we expect the charged atmosphere to carry over to this year? Both captains moved fast to stress not. “It’s done, it’s in the past, we’re moving on,” said American Juli Inkster. Opposite number Annika Sorenstam agreed. “Number one on our list is that it’s all about sportsmanship and fair play. We don’t want to leave it the way it was in Germany.”
PETTERSEN WON’T HEAR THE HATERS
Suzann Pettersen apologised in the aftermath of ‘gimmegate’, though how much her hand was forced we may never know. What’s clear is that she sees no reason to apologise again ahead of Des Moines. “I’m so over the incident. It wasn’t something we tried to do (deliberately),” she shrugged. “I don’t know if it got taken out of proportion, but it obviously blew up a lot bigger than anyone thought.” If Pettersen plays and the crowd turns hostile, she says she’ll take inspiration from Alison Nicholas, playing the 18th en route to winning the US Open in 1997. “She couldn’t hear a thing, she’d silenced the crowds and that’s how you do it. Play better. Make putts. [Then] they’ll go quiet.”
THE SUBPLOT: INKSTER VS. SORENSTAM
One of the enduring images of the 2015 Solheim Cup was of US captain Inkster and European vice-captain Sorenstam engaged in a heated conversation after the Swede had been accused of offering advice to her team – something only the captain is permitted to do and something the Swede vehemently denied. Three times a vice-captain previously, Sorenstam was asked after the 2015 defeat if she would finally become European captain so that there would be no more problems about giving advice. “I don’t think that was very nice,” she replied. Maybe it wasn’t, but it may well be true. The suspicion that she said yes to make amends for 2015 adds spice to an intriguing encounter.