English Pair Lead Europe's Solheim Cup Bid
English pair Melissa Reid and Charley Hull will spearhead Europe’s bid to reclaim the Solheim Cup today in Des Moines, Iowa. Captain Annika Sorenstam outlined her pairings for the always crucial Friday morning foursomes, with America’s maestro Juli Inkster opting for the formidable duo of Cristie Kerr and world number two Lexi Thompson – both major winners – as the United States looks to retain the trophy they dramatically snatched away from the old continent two years ago in Germany.
The leading partnership of Reid and Hull – two players making their third appearances in the biennial contest – will hope to set the tone for a successful away performance for the legendary Swede’s team, perhaps reminiscent of what was achieved in Colorado on the last stateside encounter. The two were paired together last time out at St. Leon Rot and secured a point over the striking combination of Michelle Wie and Brittany Lincicome.
Spain’s Carlotta Ciganda and Germany’s Caroline Masson pair in the second match against America rookie Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas, while world number 13 Anna Nordqvist will be the experienced head alongside England’s Georgia Hall – so impressive during the recent Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns – who is the sole of Sorenstam’s four debutants to make their bow on the first session of this year’s matches. They face Austin Ernst and perennial favourite Paula Creamer, while France’s Karine Icher is partnering veteran Catriona Matthew in the final contest – elevated from assistance captain to player following the disappointing withdrawal of Suzanne Pettersen – and the seasoned pair will face Gerina Piller and two-time major champion Stacy Lewis.
Friday Morning Foursomes Pairings (UK Time)
14.10 Melissa Reid and Charley Hull versus Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson
14.22 Carlota Ciganda and Caroline Masson versus Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas
14.34 Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist versus Paula Creamer and Austin Ernst
14.46 Karine Icher and Catriona Matthew versus Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller
When it came to selecting pairings, Sorenstam delegated much of the responsibility to players themselves. “Now we're going with feel, and I can tell you that the pairings, they are 99 per cent the players' choices. I want them to be happy, and if you have happy players, there's hopefully good golf,” said the ten-time major winner.
“So, I'm literally doing what they want them to do, and I want them to have fun out there and play with the people they want to play with. They are professional enough to know which players and partners they want to have.
“They ask for input, and I give them that input or tell them what I think. Some of the holes, they asked how I would play them. They've asked some other questions, but as far as who they want to play with, it's up to them,” she added.
With huge ticket sales having been recorded – 25,000 spectators are expected to attend each of the three competitive days – U.S. captain Inkster is encouraging her team to flourish in that atmospheric environment. “I think our team is more than boisterous. It’s a great experience that these players will have for a life time.”
Most bookmakers would confidently predict a strong American victory at home, but the recent dynamics of the Solheim Cup underline the fact that anything could happen. From the battle at Killeen Castle to the shock European rout at Colorado Golf Club and the controversial drama last time, this is an event that has delivered a mix of surprises and excitement. It may just happen again.
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