European Captain Catrin Nilsmark guessed correctly when choosing to send out two ice cool heads – Catriona Matthew and Carin Koch – at the top of the order for the opening foursomes in defence of The Solheim Cup at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana.
The European pair face rookie Paula Creamer and experienced Beth Daniel in what could be a crucial tussle to get the first point on the board.
“I had a feeling that Nancy (Lopez, the US Captain) might send one of her youngsters out first and that’s why I sent put Catriona and Carin together,” explained Nilsmark, who steered Europe to a record victory at Barseback in Sweden two years ago.
“It was a tricky one for me, but they are both very cool and calm and they won’t get wound up.
Overall, the two Captains had intriguingly contrasting philosophies. While Nilsmark left out her three rookies – Karen Stupples, Ludivine Kreutz and Gwladys Nocera – Lopez has sent her three newcomers straight into battle.
Creamer is the youngest-ever Solheim player at just 19, while 22-year-old Gulbis plays with Cristie Kerr against Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth, and 21-year-old Christina Kim, the third US rookie, joins Pat Hurst in a match against face Sophie Gustafson and Trish Johnson.
In the final foursomes, Europe’s tried and tested pair of Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen take on Michele Redman and the five months pregnant, Laura Diaz
Nilsmark explained her reasons for sticking with experience. “I think the first series is the most nerve-wracking and that’s why I wanted my rookies to sit it out,” she said.
“As for Laura and Maria, they are two of the longest hitters in Solheim history and Trish and Sophie have similar sort of minds. They’re both very, very ready to play tomorrow.”
“Annika and Suzann are a couple that get on really well. They love to play for each other and get really bouncy, cheerful and happy.”
Daniel is the oldest to play in the matches at the age of 48, and Lopez said: “Paula can’t wait to get out of the gate, while Beth will be a good calming influence. They also have similar types of games.
“Natalie and Cristie are good friends and I think that Christina and Pat are going to be a great team together. Michele and Laura specifically asked to play together.”
For the last three matches, Europe has taken a held a healthy lead after the opening series. It was 4-0 in 2000 at Loch Lomond, 3-1 at Interlachen in 2002, and 3.5-0.5 at Barseback.
Foursomes Pairings Friday, Sept. 9, 2005 (U.S. Team listed first)
Beth Daniel and Paula Creamer v. Carin Koch and Catriona Matthew
Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis v. Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth
Christina Kim and Pat Hurst v. Sophie Gustafson and Trish Johnson
Michele Redman and Laura Diaz v. Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen