Team Europe is looking forward to the challenge of trying to recapture The Solheim Cup on American soil in front of huge galleries at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa this week.
Don’t expect the Europeans to be intimidated by the record crowds that are expected to show up in red, white and blue.
Mel Reid, who played in Ireland in 2011 and in Germany in 2015, said: “To be honest, we are expecting American side to be very respectful. We’re not expecting any heckling, like, within reason. But I think that we’re there to embrace the crowd whether they’re for us or against us.”
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Charley Hull, who was the youngest ever competitor aged 17 when she contributed to Europe’s first away victory in Colorado in 2013. “It’s great to see massive crowds around us. And it’s good. It needs to be that out there as it’s a big event, because it is a big event. And to have big crowds as well, it’s going to be pretty awesome.”
Carlota Ciganda, who was also a rookie on the victorious team in Colorado, explained that she is looking forward to the challenge of trying to recapture The Solheim Cup on American soil this week.
“I think when you play match play you’re very focused on the present. It’s just you and the Americans.
“I mean you really want to win because you are playing for your team, for your teammates, for your captain, so you really want to do well this week. I think it’s important to be just in the present and play your best.”
Anna Nordqvist, who will make her fifth Solheim Cup appearance this week, added: “I just think it’s a little bit different for us, playing in the U.S., because the crowds are obviously a lot bigger over here. And sometimes, like, the roars, you think, obviously, you won a hole and maybe they tied a hole. So I kind of find myself that I’m looking a little bit more at leader boards just trying to feel where we’re at because sometimes the roars just kind of doesn’t do justice. And even if Europe wins a hole it might be quiet and you don’t really know what’s going on.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of European fans. I know we have a lot of a lot of families might not be super loud, but silence always a good thing in the U.S.”
HEALTH WATCH – THOMPSON, NORDQVIST AND PETTERSEN
During her press conference, USA Captain Juli Inkster announced that Lexi Thompson is battling a virus. Thompson, who is competing in her third Solheim Cup, postponed her scheduled Tuesday press conference to later in the week and provided the following statement:
“Unfortunately, I have been battling an illness for the past few days and am having difficulty sleeping. I have been advised to focus on getting some rest in order to make a full recovery. I’m looking forward to getting healthy and having an amazing Solheim week. Thank you for your support and understanding.”
On the European side, many eyes were on veterans Anna Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen on Tuesday. Nordqvist was sidelined for much of July with mononucleosis (glandular fever) and was forced to rely on receiving a captain’s pick to compete in this week’s Solheim Cup.
“Pretty happy where I’m at and so far I’ve been making it through 18 holes,” Nordqvist said. “Hopefully as the week goes on I can hopefully play even two matches in one day.”
As for Pettersen, the nine-time Solheim Cup competitor was limited to putting only on Tuesday. Captain Annika Sorenstam told GolfChannel.com that Pettersen had injured her back and later confirmed that Vice Captain Catriona Matthew had practised on Tuesday as the team’s alternate.
“While there are no immediate injury concerns, Catriona was practicing with the team today as a precautionary measure,” Sorenstam said in a statement.
MEL REID ON THE SOLHEIM CUP AND THE GROWTH OF WOMEN’S SPORT
While there is no doubt that women’s sport is enjoying a surge in popularity, Mel Reid pointed out that The Solheim Cup is one of the most well attended women’s sporting events globally.
“I have a lot of friends who play sport professionally, women. World Cup – England just won the World Cup in cricket. And they’re now playing the rugby. Just finished up in football.
“And I feel like women’s sport is really moving forward, and maybe not as quickly as we’d like, but the crowds we’re expecting this week is probably one of the biggest women’s sporting events that you’re going to get.
“I have friends at home that they know that I play golf but they love watching The Solheim Cup. That’s the only event they watch every two years. So that is what this tournament is about. It’s about getting people that wouldn’t normally come and watch to be interested in it and really get involved in it and this is why we do what we do. We work extremely hard and feel like we don’t get the recognition we sometimes deserve. So when we’re expecting crowds like this, that’s why we do it. We try and put our sport out there and make it as enjoyable for people to watch as possible.”