If you’re anything like me then you’re already counting down the days until the Solheim Cup gets underway.
Headed by golfing great Annika Sorenstam, Europe may be the underdogs going into this year’s transatlantic match-up, but following a sensational American comeback in Germany two years ago, the away side will be looking to exact their revenge. The team won’t officially be confirmed until the week of the RICOH Women’s British Open, but with the likes of Charley Hull, Suzann Pettersen, and Anna Nordqvist to choose from, the squad will fancy their chances of taking the trophy back across the Atlantic.
There was a time when an American win on home soil was a given, but following Europe’s runaway triumph in Colorado four years ago, their first ever away victory, there will be nothing inevitable about the contest at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
We take a look at the European players to watch in Iowa from 18 to 20 August 2017.
Despite being only twenty-one years old, Hull has become somewhat of a staple of the European team, playing a pivotal role in the past two contests. She is still perhaps best known for her antics in Colorado four years, when, as the youngest ever member of the European squad, she delivered a crushing victory to Paula Creamer, before then going on to ask for her autograph. The Englishwoman earned her first LPGA victory last year at the season-ending CME Globe, and despite not being on top form during the early part of this year, is likely to crank up the volume come August.
The Norwegian needs little introduction. Long known as a fierce competitor, Pettersen is largely credited with instigating the American fightback two years ago, following a controversial penalty call on Alison Lee. Despite this, she holds one of the best Solheim Cup records in European history, with 19 points earned over the course of eight editions. If anything, despite her longevity, the Scandinavian is playing the best golf of her career, with a run of top-ten finishes already under her belt this season.
The highest ranked member of the European team, the meticulous Swede makes for a formidable opponent. The four-time Solheim Cup player has had a fantastic start to the season with a victory and three top-ten finishes, a run which currently puts her 6th in the Race to the CME Globe.
Nordqvist has one major title to her name, having narrowly missed adding to her tally at last year’s US. Open following a controversial rules decision.
The American players will be well acquainted with the long-hitting Spaniard, who plies her trade primarily on the LPGA. Currently on course to make the team thanks to her world ranking, Ciganda won twice in the space of four weeks last year, including at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. A two-time member of the Solheim Cup team, the former British Amateur Champion is as well-known for her fun-loving character as her incredible natural talent.
A somewhat unknown quantity on the other side of the pond, the Englishwoman burst onto the European scene last year with a string of top ten finishes in her first full year on the Ladies European Tour. She’s continued 2017 where she left off and now sits atop the Solheim Cup Points Rankings. At just twenty-one Hall is set to become one of the youngest rookies in the history of the contest.
It’s currently looking as if the European team could have a sizable English contingent, with Mel Reid likely to play her way into the team via the ranking system. Despite six professional wins, the twenty-nine-year-old has had a turbulent career. LET rookie of the year in 2008, she was touted to rise to the very top of the game, but after struggling to cope with the passing of her mother, who was on her way to watch her daughter compete in Germany in 2012, she largely fell off the radar. The last few years has seen her return to her very best, and having already recorded a win in Australia this year, she will certainly be a player to watch out for in Iowa.
Becky Gee is a freelance golfer writer from Northamptonshire, England, who specializes in the female game. A graduate of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Becky is a single-figure handicapper and is passionate about encouraging the next generation of golfers into the game.
All images courtesy of the Ladies European Tour