Solheim Cup 2023: Preview

Team Europe are defending the Solheim Cup against Team USA at Finca Cortesin in Spain – with the drama immediate at the 1st hole, a driveable par 4 over water!

The 18th edition of the biennial tournament will see Europe take on the USA over three days in Andalucia from September 22-24, with Suzann Pettersen serving as captain for Team Europe and Stacy Lewis captain of Team USA.

It goes ahead a week before the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, Italy.

Europe has usually entered the Solheim Cup as underdogs, but the narrative has changed this time around. Europe arrive off the back of consecutive wins: the 14.5-13.5 success at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2019, and the 15-13 win at the Inverness Club in Ohio in 2021.

Europe are now looking for a third straight win for the first time ever, while the USA will aim to win for the first time on European soil since 2015.

The event will then switch to even-numbered years from 2024 to avoid clashing with the Ryder Cup, with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia hosting from September 13-15 that year.

Solheim Cup format

The Solheim Cup is contested between two teams of 12 players over three days. It follows the same format as the Ryder Cup, with 28 matches: eight foursomes and eight fourballs over the first two days and 12 singles on the final day. Foursomes is an alternate shot format where teams in pairs take turns on each hole. In fourballs, both players from each team play their own ball.

There are 28 points at stake. Defending champions Europe must win 14 of them to retain the Cup. For an outright win by either team, the number to reach is 14.5 points.

Players compete against each other in match-play, where the player (or team) with the lowest score on each hole wins that hole and goes ‘1 up’. Whoever wins the most holes wins their match. One point is then awarded to the team that wins the match and in the event of a tie, both teams score half a point.

Day 1: 4 Foursomes in the morning and 4 Fourballs in the afternoon (8 of 12 players play)

Day 2: 4 Foursomes in the morning and 4 Fourballs in the afternoon (8 of 12 players play)

Day 3: 12 Singles matches (all players play)

The teams compared

Nine of Team Europe’s 12 players have featured in at least one Solheim Cup victory, with eight of them survivors of the 2021 win in Ohio, while all three rookies have won on either the LPGA Tour or Ladies European Tour over the past 12 months. USA’s total of five rookies does though include two of this year’s major champions.

Europe has a total of 31 Solheim appearances across the team, more than double the number played by their American counterparts. Only three of the American team remain from their most recent Solheim Cup success in 2017.

USA has the world’s top two players in their squad, although the disparity between the two sides in terms of world ranking is closer than it’s ever been. The average Rolex World Ranking of Team Europe at the time of qualification was 42.25 compared to USA’s 24.42. But Europe has the advantage of players inside the world’s top 20, with five compared to the American’s four.

New 1st hole for 2023

In September, Finca Cortesin unveiled a spectacular new 1st hole in preparation for the event. Usually the 4th hole at the course, it’s now the 1st – a risk-reward driveable 280-yard par 4 with water left and short of the green. It’s around 240 yards carry over the water, or the players can lay up to the right with a tee shot of around 190 yards. 

The average driving distance on the LPGA Tour this year is 256.9 yards, with the average carry just below 240 yards. The hole is perfectly set up for drama. 

The tee box will also be surrounded by a grandstand that will host over a thousand spectators, creating a hugely exciting atmosphere. The 6,318-yard course will play as a par-71, with 109 bunkers across an undulating layout where water comes into play on three of the holes.

Brief history

The Solheim Cup was named after the Norwegian-American golf club manufacturer Karsten Solheim, who was a driving force behind its creation. Solheim saw the rise in popularity of the Ryder Cup after Europe ended America’s long domination with victory in 1985.

In 1990, he put his name and money behind the women’s version of the Ryder Cup. In five brief months, the Solheim Cup was staged for the first time in Lake Nona, Florida where the U.S. romped home to victory.

The Europeans lost eight of the first 11 editions of the event and the U.S. have won the cup 10 times in total compared to seven for Europe. But Europe have won four of the last five cups, with the most recent victory coming in 2021. The Americans last won in 2017 in Iowa.

Team Europe

Celine Boutier, 29 (France)

World Ranking: 5
Majors: 1
Caps: 2 (5-1-1 wins-losses-halves)

Charley Hull, 27 (England)

World Ranking: 8
Majors: 0
Caps: 5 (11-5-3)

Linn Grant, 24 (Sweden)

World Ranking: 15
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Georgia Hall, 27 (England)

World Ranking: 16
Majors: 1
Caps: 3 (7-5-1)

Leona Maguire, 28 (Ireland)

World Ranking: 17
Majors: 0
Caps: 1 (4-0-1)

Carlota Ciganda, 33 (Spain)

World Ranking: 28
Majors: 0
Caps: 5 (7-8-4)

Anna Nordqvist, 36 (Vice Captain)

World Ranking: 39
Majors: 3
Caps: 7 (14-10-3)

Maja Stark, 23 (Sweden)

World Ranking: 40
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Madelene Sagstrom, 30 (Sweden)

World Ranking: 45
Majors: 0
Caps: 2 (2-4-0)

Gemma Dryburgh, 30 (Scotland)

World Ranking: 55
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Emily Kristine Pedersen, 27 (Denmark)

World Ranking: 121
Majors: 0
Caps: 2 (3-4-0)

Caroline Hedwall, 34 (Sweden)

World Ranking: 122
Majors: 0
Caps: 4 (8-6-1)

Team USA

Lilia Vu, 25

World Ranking: 2
Majors: 2
Caps: Rookie

Nelly Korda, 25

World Ranking: 3
Majors: 1
Caps: 2 (5-2-1)

Allisen Corpuz, 25

World Ranking: 10
Majors: 1
Caps: Rookie

Megan Khang, 25

World Ranking: 14
Majors: 0
Caps: 2 (1-3-2)

Lexi Thompson, 28

World Ranking: 26
Majors: 1
Caps: 5 (6-6-7)

Jennifer Kupcho, 26

World Ranking: 28
Majors: 1
Caps: 1 (2-1-1)

Ashley Ewing, 31

World Ranking: 30
Majors: 0
Caps: 2 (2-5-1)

Rose Zhang, 20

World Ranking: 32
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Danielle Kang, 30

World Ranking: 33
Majors: 1
Caps: 3 (5-7-0)

Angel Yin, 23

World Ranking: 34
Majors: 0
Caps: 2 (3-2-1)

Andrea Lee, 24

World Ranking: 38
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Cheyenne Knight, 26

World Ranking: 49
Majors: 0
Caps: Rookie

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related articles