Caroline Masson is aiming to qualify for The 2013 European Solheim Cup team this August. The 24-year-old from Germany recently entered the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters, being played at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on July 26-28.
Perhaps it is her star sign that makes Caroline Masson such a successful golf professional. Once the bull has a target, it pursues it with pure focus. Bulls are often artisitic, or creative: skills which are useful on the golf course.
When “Carro” entered the LET’s Final Qualifying School in December 2009, after a successful amateur career, it was clear that her eye was on the prize and she duly took the honours with a convincing victory.
So why does she play golf, when her father is a tennis coach? “Because that’s what I do best and scarily I really enjoy it!” she said, through translation.
Her golf career developed steadily in five-year increments: she first started at the age of five and from then on, it would not let her go.
Five years later, aged 10, she began to pursue golf seriously and in another five years was in the national team. It was the start of an impressive amateur career with many international successes, including two appearances in the PING Junior Solheim Cup, in 2005 and 2007.
Her golf career didn’t detract from her education and she completed high school in 2008 before taking up a scholarship at Oklahoma State Universitiy, where she studied for a year whilst continuing to work on improving her golf game.
By 2009, she had made the decision to pursue golf as a career. In her first full season on the Ladies European Tour (2010) she played in 16 tournaments and finished 26th on the money list. The following year, in 2011, she finished seventh on the tour, having doubled her winnings from the same number of events.
Her most successful year followed in 2012 with their first victory on the tour at the South African Women’s Open and she finished second on the LET ISPS Handa Order of Merit, just behind Carlota Ciganda.
The next step was the LPGA Tour in the USA and she successfully qualified at the first attempt. Starting the year as a rookie, she has now played in 10 tournaments with four top 20 finishes including an excellent tie for 12th place at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and a tie for 13th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, hence her world ranking of 56th (as of 10th July).
She is only six places behind her former club colleague from the GC Dusseldorf Hubblerath, Sandra Gal, who played in The 2011 Solheim Cup in Ireland, and five places behind Gal on the LPGA Money List.
Masson and Gal know each other well from their amateur days, as they played together in the Dusseldorf club team. Gal offered Masson to live and train with her in the States when not returning to Germany, to practice at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, where The Solheim Cup will be held in September 2015.
It would be an absolute career highlight for Masson and Gal if they were able to play in the competition between continental Europe and the U.S. when it takes place in their own country .
However, for now, the target is Colorado, where the 12 best women professionals from the USA and Europe will compete from August 16-18. Europe is the defending champion and will attempt to win for the first time on US soil.
Three German players have represented Europe in the tournament: Elisabeth Esterl (2003), Bettina Hauert (2007) and Gal (2011). Masson wants to be the fourth German player to bear the flag.
“The Solheim Cup is the biggest event in women’s golf. From every continent only twelve players can be there. To get onto the team is a huge success and then of course we all want to keep the trophy in European hands.”
It would be the first time that a European team had won in the US. Since Gal also has a strong chance to qualify, this could be the first team featuring two German players – and possibly an historic win!
Masson had a taste of The 2013 Solheim Cup a few weeks ago at Gut Häusern during the UniCredit Ladies German Open presented by Audi.
Captain Liselotte Neumann had invited all prospective team members, including Masson, to an official uniform fitting. “Even at the team clothing fitting – that I like very much – I got goose bumps and it made my desire to be a Solheim Cup player even bigger,” she said.
They also discussed with whom they might contest the four matches on the first two days: “I have a good understanding of Carlota Ciganda’s game and I would imagine that we would work together very well. “
Qualifying for The 2013 Solheim Cup team would possibly have been easier for Masson had she remained in Europe and played more tournaments on the Ladies European Tour this season.
However, she is currently lying in fourth place on the LET points list, from which the top four will qualify when the team is named following the Ricoh Women’s British Open on 4th August.
Then, of course, the native of Gladbeck has another goal: to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when golf returns to the program after more than 100 years. “It must be an amazing feeling to experience the Olympic Games not only as a spectator but as an active athlete: with a chance to win a medal for Germany!”
In her own estimation, Masson believes that she can achieve her best performances in pressurised situations as can be expected at the Olympics – and at The Solheim Cup.
Together with Sandra Gal, Martin Kaymer and Marcel Siem, Masson is a member of the elite Team Germany. These are certainly the most promising candidates to start at the 2016 Olympic Games and the greatest hopes for the German Golf Association. Although there are still three years before the next Olympics, Masson is already thinking about her long-term target, along with the next two Solheim Cups in 2013 and 2015. When the Olympic Games take place in Brazil, she will still only be 27 years old!