The European Solheim Cup team can relate to the plight of Zach Johnson’s Ryder Cup team.
After the Americans swept the Friday morning foursomes session in Spain at the Solheim Cup, the situation was reversed one week later in Rome.
Now it’s Team Europe that owns a commanding 4-0 lead after the opening session.
So how did the Euros manage to turn things around last week after such a demoralizing start?
Dame Laura Davies, one of Suzann Pettersen’s assistant captains, said on Golf Channel earlier this week that she gives massive credit to Charley Hull’s caddie Adam Woodward.
After the morning shellacking, Woodward played two songs back-to-back in the European team room: “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones.
“As players trickled in … the mood was very quiet,” said Davies, “so Adam did a very clever thing by putting those two songs on, and everyone was chuckling going out into the afternoon knowing we had a job ahead of us, but that team spirit from the European team room sent everybody out in a slightly better mood than when they walked in, and that’s very important.”
For the first time in Solheim Cup history, the 2023 matches ended in a 14-14 tie.
Stacy Lewis sat next to LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan during the Solheim Cup’s closing ceremony in Spain and the topic of a playoff came up.
For the first time in Solheim Cup history, the matches ended in a 14-14 tie. Because Europe won in 2021, they retained the cup. While members of Team Europe carried Spanish hero Carlota Ciganda around Finca Cortesin on their shoulders, Lewis’ squad had a good cry.
Captain and commish got to talking: Should the Solheim Cup institute a playoff?
“I don’t know, I mean, it obviously would be better TV,” Lewis told the media when it was over. “It would be a better experience for the fans if there was a – whether it was a team playoff or something like that, I think that would be pretty cool.
“But if you want to stick with the history of the event and history of what the men do as well, you probably stick with retaining the Cup.
“I don’t know how I feel about that either way, to be honest.”
While this was a first for the Solheim, on two different occasions the Ryder Cup has ended in a tie. In 1969, the United States retained against Great Britain, and in 1989, Europe retained at The Belfry.
After the 2003 Presidents Cup ended in a 17-17 tie in South Africa, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els went into a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner. After three holes, it was decided between captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player that the two teams would share the Cup.
Woods called the playoff one of his most nerve-wracking experiences in golf.
“To have two guys decide the fate of the whole team in extra holes like that, I don’t think any of the sides felt comfortable with that to begin with,” said Woods 20 years ago. “It’s just part of the captains’ agreement and part of the rules of the competition.
“But we didn’t like it. It’s a team event, not an individual event. We’re here as a team together and we’d like to decide as a team together and not on an individual basis.”
Nowadays, if the Presidents Cup ends in a 15-15 tie, the two teams will share the trophy.
In the aftermath of the Solheim, players and fans weighed in on social media. Juli Inkster, a three-time captain for Team USA, said the captains should have to play for it.
In a Golfweek Twitter poll that saw 2,513 votes cast, opinions were split on the implementation of a playoff, with 51 percent voting yes, including former Solheim Cupper Brittany Lincicome.
Should the Solheim Cup institute a playoff so the whole thing can’t end in a tie?
This was a changing-of-the-guard year for Team USA.
On paper, the outlook might seem bleak. For the first time in history, the Americans have lost three Solheim Cups in a row. Scroll back a bit more, and it’s a whopping five of the last seven.
Stacy Lewis told her team they didn’t lose – it was a tie. And while the scoreboard indicated such with the first 14-14 finish in Solheim Cup history, one team celebrated on the 17th green and one team cried. The U.S. failed to accomplish what it set out to do, as Europe retained the Cup in dramatic fashion.
Stacy Lewis came to southern Spain with a fresh-faced, hard-working team that’s naturally more reserved. They didn’t need rah-rah. They needed guidance and experience. The overprepared Lewis, stats book in hand, provided that in spades, leaving no detail to chance.
Lewis also worked hard to make sure this next generation understood what they’d become part of in Spain. From the stars and stripes on their bags to the “88” on their hats, each U.S. Solheim Cup player was a walking display of history.
Captain Lewis truly cared about more than results this week. She wanted her team to leave Spain with a deep passion for the Solheim Cup. The week represented a building block for the future.
“I mean, for me, the whole week in general feels like a win,” said Lewis. “Just where we were coming from out of Toledo to where this team is at now, it was a win, and that’s all that matters.
“I think it’s more about these girls, where they are mentally, how they felt about this. They were crying because it meant something to them, and that’s all I was trying to achieve this week.”
In less than one year, Team USA will get another chance to stop Europe’s streak at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. Lewis said she won’t change much about her process going forward because it worked, and she likes the direction they’re headed.
Next time around, Lewis can build from first-time partnerships that found success in Spain, such as Nelly Korda/Allisen Corpuz (2-0 foursomes) and Lexi Thompson/Megan Khang (2-0 foursomes).
Danielle Kang played her best golf all year in Spain and had nothing but praise for what Lewis put together.
“I know people like to decide on the process on whether we win or lose, but without Stacy’s process,” said Kang, “I think we could have gotten crushed.
“Because she gave us the best opportunity and best chance of percentages to go up against what they brought, and if we have to shoot 10 under to go up against Carlota Ciganda, we did. If we lost, that’s OK. Same thing with Linn Grant, same thing with Maja Stark. She put us up together with the probabilities and gave us the best chance to go up against them.”
Which brings up perhaps the most important point of all: These teams have never been more evenly matched. The quality of golf on display in Spain was exceptional. Birdies or bust.
Team USA has only lost on home soil twice since the Cup began in 1990: 2013 and 2021.
Many, if not all, of the rookies on the 2023 roster will be back next year and they’ll have a number of aspects in their favor: They won’t be rookies anymore; they’ll have the support of a home crowd; and they’ll have history with their partners.
Angela Stanford, an assistant captain who has been part of Team USA since her Solheim debut in 2003, wrote on Instagram in the aftermath that learning how to win in Europe is one of the most difficult things she’s ever done. There’s a reason, she noted, that the U.S. has only won three times on foreign soil in the Solheim Cup, and it’s been 30 years since a U.S. Ryder Cup team accomplished the feat.
This was a changing-of-the-guard year for Team USA. There’s been another shift.
“I watched something special happen this week,” wrote Stanford. “Looking forward to next year and years to come for this team.”
“I wanted to represent them the best that I can, and I was playing for something bigger than I,” said Kang.
CASARES, Spain — Danielle Kang ended the 2023 Solheim Cup with a 2-2-0 record that featured a dominant 4-and-2 Sunday singles win over Europe’s Charley Hull.
The 30-year-old has become a key factor for the U.S. side over the last four events. She begs for noise on the first tee from the crowd and drips personality and swag all over the golf course. You can tell her confidence wears off on her teammates.
“I think on first tee, I was definitely pretty nervous. The crowds are the biggest I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Kang’s foursomes partner Andrea Lee on Friday. “But I think I settled in pretty quickly and having Danielle there is — she’s really reliable, so I just had tons of fun out there, stayed really patient.”
One of the older, more experienced players on a young, five-rookie U.S. side, this week meant a little more to Kang. She embraced her role as a leader and wanted to stand and fight for everyone who donned the red, white and blue at Finca Cortesin. One way of doing so was to write the names of everyone involved with Team USA on her golf shoes.
“I was so honored to be on this team, to experience what I experienced this week,” said Kang after Sunday’s final session. “People kept asking me about my shoes and why I wrote everyone’s name on there, and no, it didn’t come like that. But there was not a single person, caddies, players, staff, captain, assistant captains that I didn’t want to represent. I wanted to represent them the best that I can, and I was playing something bigger than I. I played the best I have all year, so I’m very proud.”
“Listen, when I’m old and gray one day and look back, I’m going to remember our team rooms where (Megan Khang) and (Angel Yin) and all these girls were hyping us up, and I wish you guys had a camera. I wish people could experience what I experienced last night and this week because it was unbelievable,” she continued. “Looking back, (European captain Suzann Pettersen) telling me, ‘If it was any other match, it would have already been done, but we are 10-under, 13-under going in.’ Those are the moments we live for and we built. That’s something that I want to remember. When I retire, when I’m all done with things, it’s not about who won the Cup, it’s about the moment, and we built it.”
Three players went unbeaten over the three days but only one earned 4 points over the five sessions.
CASARES, Spain — The 2023 Solheim Cup couldn’t have been closer.
The 18th edition of the biennial bash between the United States and Europe was all square at 8-8 entering Sunday singles, and after the final 12 matches – five won by the both teams and two ties – the competition ended in a 14-14 tie, and the Europeans retained the Cup.
In the event’s 23-year history, the Americans have taken home the trophy on 10 occasions, with the Europeans earning the other eight. Team Europe hasn’t lost since 2017 in Iowa.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda was the only player to score four points this week (4-0-0) and was one of four players who went unbeaten, joining Gemma Dryburgh (0-0-2), Megan Khang (3-0-1) and Cheyenne Knight (2-0-1). Two players went winless for each team, but only one failed to earn a point.
Here’s a breakdown of how each player fared this week by event at the 2023 Solheim Cup.
The Solheim Cup will remain in European possession for another year.
CASARES, Spain — For the fifth time since 2002 the Solheim Cup was all square entering the final day of play, setting the stage for a grand finale on Spain’s southern coast.
After the Americans swept the first session, it’s been all Team Europe ever since as captain Suzann Pettersen’s side took eight of the next 12 points across the last three sessions to climb back into contention.
Just 12 singles matches remained in the 18th edition of the biennial bash between the Americans and Europeans, held this year at the luxurious Finca Cortesin. When past Solheim Cups had been tied entering Sunday, both the U.S. and Europe had each claimed the Cup twice.
The U.S. and Europe each won five matches and two were tied as the event ended in a 14-14 tie, meaning the Cup would be retained by Europe for another year. Here’s a breakdown of each of the 12 Sunday singles matches at the 2023 Solheim Cup.
“I actually picked up my tour bag last week and that kind of started it.”
One day after Suzann Pettersen told the media that Charley Hull is not injured, Hull told Golf Channel’s Amy Rogers that she is, in fact, dealing with neck pain.
One of the hottest players on the LPGA coming into the Solheim Cup, Hull has only played in two sessions so far, losing with Emily Pedersen in Friday foursomes and winning alongside Leona Maguire Saturday afternoon.
Hull, who has kinesiology tape on the back of her neck, told Rogers that she’s suffering from a facet sprain.
“I actually picked up my tour bag last week and that kind of started it,” she said, “and then I’ve done it from sleeping as well on the plane over here.”
Hull said she’s operating at about 70 to 80 percent right now. She faces Danielle Kang in Sunday singles in the third match of the day. A veteran of five previous Solheim Cups, Hull has four runner-up finishes on the LPGA season including two majors.
“It’s been pretty sore, I’m not gonna lie,” Hull told Golf Channel. “I’ve kind of had to change my swing a little bit to kind of turn through it.”
The Englishwoman plans to take next week off to rest up for her LPGA title defense next month at the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America in Texas.
The U.S. and Europe are all tied at 8-8 with just 12 singles matches to go.
CASARES, Spain — After two days of play just 12 matches separate the champions from the heartbroken.
The final day of play at the 2023 Solheim Cup on Spain’s southern coast features the Americans and Europeans all tied at 8-8 for the fifth time since 2002 when the current format was implemented. Team Europe squared the biennial bash against the U.S. thanks to a second consecutive 3-1 session win in afternoon fourballs on Saturday.
Both U.S. captain Stacy Lewis and European captain Suzann Pettersen have made their selections for Sunday singles, which have produced some must-watch matches you won’t want to miss.
Cheyenne Knight (2-0-0) is undefeated so far in Spain.
Solheim Cup captains are always judged in part by their captain’s picks. The composition of the two 12-person teams are different in that Suzann Pettersen selects four players for Europe compared to Stacy Lewis’ three picks for Team USA.
So far, the European captain’s picks have combined for 4½ points to Team USA’s four points. While Pettersen has practically hidden two of her picks with Caroline Hedwall and Gemma Dryburgh only playing in one match apiece, she has leaned heavily on one pick: Emily Pedersen. The Dane is one of three European players to tee it up in all four matches. No American, however, will play every session.
Miss the Solheim Cup action on Saturday? We’ve got you covered.
CASARES, Spain — Is it Sunday yet?
Some incredible golf was played in both foursomes and fourball sessions on Saturday at the 2023 Solheim Cup at the luxurious Finca Cortesin on Spain’s southern coast, setting up for what should be a thrilling finale. After an enticing two days of play the 18th matches between the Americans and Europeans are all tied at 8-8.
Both teams came away with two points after a halved session in the morning foursomes, but in the afternoon the Europeans showed their fourball dominance once again with a second consecutive 3-1 session win at the expense of the Americans.
From future stars shining bright to a strategy battle between opposing captains, here are five things we learned from the second day of play at the 2023 Solheim Cup in Spain.