Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Following the most controversial match in Solheim Cup history two years ago, team captains Annika Sorenstam and Juki Inkster may be hoping that the road to victory runs a little more smoothly this time around. Nonetheless as the best players from America and Europe converge on Des Moines Golf and Country Club, in Iowa, this week for the 15th edition of the biennial tournament, you can guarantee that there will be plenty of drama.
Here’s everything you need to know about the trans-Atlantic match-up:
There will be seven rookies making their Solheim Cup debut at Des Moines on Friday. Both captains have favoured youth over experience when selecting their wildcards picks.
Eighteen-year-old American Angel Yin may be the youngest player in either squad but she will not be a totally unknown quantity to the European players, having plied her trade last year on the Ladies European Tour. She will be joined by the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Danielle Kang, and Austin Ernst.
Meanwhile twenty-one-year-old Georgia Hall has been extremely impressive in recent weeks. The Englishwoman recorded her highest finish in a major championship, T-3, at the Ricoh Women’s British Open earlier this month. She is a player the Americans will need to keep a close eye on.
One of the fiercest rivalries in women’s golf will be reignited this week as Annika Sorenstam comes to the helm of the European squad for the first time. The Swede is arguably the greatest female golfer in the modern-era. She also has an impressive Solheim Cup record as a player, with her 24 points earned second in the all-time list behind Laura Davies.
Meanwhile American captain Juli Inkster has an enviable CV in her own right. With her nine appearances, Inkster is the most capped American player of all time.
Between them, the pair combine for 103 LPGA wins, including 17 major championship titles.
Following the sacking of LET CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh, and with just a handful of events having taken place on the LET all season, the Tour begins the match shrouded in controversy. In truth, the impact of the sparse scheduling on the trajectory of the Solheim Cup has likely been over-played. Only two of the twelve-strong squad play their golf primarily in Europe. The uncertain future of the Tour will undoubtedly be a talking point throughout the event though.
The iconic American has enjoyed a remarkable run of form in the past six months. She has been through a rough time and had dropped out of the world’s top 100. She was struggling to make cuts and it looked as though she would be unlikely to make the squad. However, the mid and latter part of 2017 have been strong for Wie. Her game has been transformed , something she puts down to a change of attitude, and she is playing the golf we expect of her. With seven top-ten finishes on the LPGA Tour this season, she could be leading the charge for Team USA.
She will be making her fifth Solheim Cup appearance.
Heartbreak turned to ecstasy in the space of 24-hours for Paula Creamer. She is a late addition to the team after it was announced that she would replace the injured Jessica Korda in the American squad. A six-time Solheim Cup participant, Creamer has long been a stalwart of the American team. It is fair to say that her form has dipped of late. However, she has been a key figure in this event for America and she will certainly feel like she has a point to prove. Expect some fireworks from Creamer, she will be tough to beat.
Inkster is fielding the strongest squad that we have seen for a considerable time. With this in mind, the Americans must undoubtedly start as favourites. Anyone who knows the Solheim Cup knows that the form book can mean very little in this great event though!
Europe will be buoyed by their legendary captain. In fact Sorenstam’s captaincy may well be the team’s greatest asset. It’s worth noting that with the likes of Charley Hull, Anna Nordqvist, and Suzann Pettersen returning this will be a close contest.