Pettersen Succeeds Matthew as Solheim Cup Captain
THERE were no surprises when Suzann Pettersen was named as Solheim Cup captain as Europe attempts to win the trophy for an unprecedented third time on the trot. The 40-year-old Norwegian succeeds Catriona Matthew after serving as vice-captain to the Scot for last September's epic 15-13 triumph in Toledo.
Pettersen called time on her competitive career after holing the winning putt for Europe in their 2019 victory over the United States at Gleneagles.
The mother of two was an inspired captain's wildcard selection for that match and is now plotting a history-making attempt as Europe chase three consecutive victories for the first time.
"It's a massive challenge," Pettersen said. "But all I can do is roll up the sleeves and take it on.
"I know we have the greatest talents on European soil; we have some more experienced players that will definitely take leadership onto this team and that is the culture we have on the European side."
Pettersen enjoyed an extraordinary playing record in the Solheim Cup from the moment she came from five down with five to play to force a half against Michele Redman in her debut singles contest in 2002.
Delighted to be Solheim Cup Captain for 2023 at Finca Cortesin in Spain! #VamosGirls@SolheimCupEuro @SolheimCupusa @solheimcup2023esp @letgolf @lpga_tour @visitcostadel @rolex @PINGgolfeurope @fincacortesin @deportebusiness pic.twitter.com/wt00taSmbm— Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) November 29, 2021
"I've had a great career but I think if you were to take the Solheim out of it, I feel like it would have been quite empty," said the former world number two, who won two majors.
"I think the easiest way to say it is that I probably have had my highest highs and my lowest lows in the Solheim. I look back at my career and I think Solheim really defined me as a player."
Pettersen played nine matches and was on four winning sides. She was embroiled in controversy in 2015 when, playing with Charley Hull, she claimed a vital hole after opponent Alison Lee picked up her ball - the American wrongly thinking her 18-inch putt had been conceded.
"I think you are able to learn a lot by competing on the biggest stage and I feel like I learned quickly and I quickly realised that this is something I just love," Pettersen added.
"The bigger the stage the better and the more important the more internal I get and the better I feel playing the game. Solheim has definitely been and still is a huge part of my DNA.
"It is a new chapter to be able to captain the youngsters now coming through and I can't wait."
Pettersen, who won the 2007 LPGA Championship and 2013 Evian Championship, knows it will be a huge task to follow the successful spike-marks of outgoing skipper Matthew.
"Catriona has left me some really big shoes to fill," the Norwegian said of the Scot who led Europe to glory in 2019 and then this year. "She has been an outstanding captain.
"I think most importantly she was just herself. She has a very relaxed, calm personality and that smoothness passed on to the team which creates a great atmosphere to go out and perform at the biggest stage.
"She'll definitely be on my speed dial for the next two years with questions and for advice on how to map it out."
Pettersen is wary of the level of expectation that will accompany the 2023 match, to be played at Finca Cortesin on Spain's Costa Del Sol from 18-24 September. "I always think the pressure is bigger playing on home soil," she said.
"We all went over to Toledo feeling like the underdogs and this is where the team spirit and teamwork really played in our favour. We had literally the team players, the helpers, the captains and that was about it.
"I think we had a total of 25 Europeans against all of the Americans, with no European crowds on site.
"We definitely proved that we can do it, we can get the job done and we have a big task to keep that cup here on European soil, but we are all for it."
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