2011 Solheim Cup: What To Expect from the Opening Foursomes?
The 2011 Solheim Cup starts tomorrow morning with foursome matches. The opening ceremony was held at Killeen Castle with players, captains, executives caddies, media and fans present.
All eyes were on captains Rosie Jones and Alison Nicholas who announced their pairing. All foursome matches seem quite interesting, as expected, so let's take a look.
The European couple is formed by two fine Swedish players who have been successful at the LPGA and European Tours.
Maria Hjorth has played in four Solheim Cups (2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009) and holds a 3-2-1 record in foursomes; while Anna Nordqvist will dispute her second Solheim and has only played twice in foursomes—winning one and losing the other.
In 2009, they played together to beat Kristy McPherson and Brittany Lincicome (three & two), but lost to Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie (one down).
Two years later, the Euros may have their revenge, since they are paired, precisely, with Kerr and Wie, but the feat won't be easy.
Kerr has played in every Solheim Cup, since 2002 and holds a 2-3-1 record. Moreover, this veteran is the world's No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings.
Wie has never lost a match in the Solheim Cup. She made her debut in 2009 and went to grab 3.5 points out of the four she could have won. She has only played one time in foursomes.
Experience Despite Age
Paula Creamer will team up with Brittany Lincicome for the first time in foursomes. Both have Solheim experience and will surely use it to give the United States some advantage.
Creamer is the ultimate Solheim competitor with a 3-1-2 record in this format, after being part of the U.S. squad since 2005.
Lincicome has two Solheims under her belt (2007 and 2009), but she has only played once in foursomes, losing to Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist.
Still these two youngsters (Creamer, 25 and Lincicome, 26) gave the States five of the 16 points the squad earned in 2009 to win the Cup.
To face these two world-known players, the European captain picked two Englishwomen: Karen Stupples and Melissa Reid.
Stupples has been a pro since 1998, but has only made it to the 2005 Solheim and she didn't played in foursomes.
Reid is one of the rookies in this year's edition, but has already won three times in the Ladies European Tour (LET), once in 2010 and twice this season.
Experience Meets Youth
Both couples are formed by a youngster and a veteran. Rosie Jones chose Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford for the third match.
Lewis has never competed in the Solheim Cup, but she knows how to handle pressure. In the LPGA she has had a stellar 2011 season, after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship, her first professional title. The 26-year-old has posted 10 top 10 finishes in 17 events.
Stanford will make her fourth Solheim appearance (2003, 2007 and 2009) and holds a 1-1-1 record. She has never played with a player as young as Lewis in this format.
Europe will be represented by Catriona Matthew, Scotland's finest, and Azahara Muñoz, from Spain.
This will be Matthew's fifth Solheim with a 2-3-2 record in foursomes; but she has never teamed up with someone so young in this format. She was paired with Diana Luna in 2009 (fourballs) and halved the match.
Meanwhile, Muñoz will make her debut in the Solheim Cup, but she has shown she has potential. She was named LPGA Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2010 after posting two top 10 finishes; she also has already won in the Ladies European Tour (LET), once.
The Best Record
The final foursomes match will display the couple with the best foursomes record, both Scandinavian.
Suzann Pettersen (Norway) and Sophie Gustafson (Sweden) have played four times in this format and have only lost once, to Christina Kim and Natalie Gulbis, in 2009.
Individually, Pettersen has a 4-3-2 record in foursomes and will compete in her sixth Solheim. She's currently world No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings and has 14 professional titles.
Gustafson has a lot of Solheim history, too. This will be the eighth time she represents Europe and holds a 5-1-4 record in this format. She turned pro in 1992 and has won a total of 28 times.
To try and stop these two, Rosie Jones designated her assistant captain Juli Inkster and Brittany Lang.
Inkster has a 6-4-3 record in the eight Solheim Cup editions she's played. She's used to playing with youngsters in this format, since she's been paired with Paula Creamer in every foursomes match since 2005. After 23 years as a professional golfer, she has been inducted into the Hall of Fame (2000) and won 39 times all over the world.
Lang will be competing in her second Solheim, but this will be the very first time she plays foursomes, so an experienced partner, like Inkster, comes in handy. Lang has been a LPGA member since 2006, but hasn't won, yet.