It’s ten years since three of the Swedish team, Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Hedwall and Pernilla Lindberg won the world amateur championship in Australia and the Swedes are hoping for a repeat success when they meet the USA in a tough opening match in the UL International Crown at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, Korea.
Madelene Sagstrom, making her ﬁrst appearance in the event, has even dyed her hair blue in a patriotic gesture. However, the 25-year-old said she couldn’t persuade her partner, Lindberg, to do the same.
She said: “She wouldn’t have it when I asked her but I guess because she’s blonde it makes us Sweden anyway. I’m so honoured to be playing with her now she’s a major champion. We’re great friends and very comfortable with each other so looking forward to the challenge.”
With huge crowds expected to turn out and follow the Koreans, Lindberg said she hoped her team mates wouldn’t be put oﬀ by the “over-the-top-crazy” they might hear from the other side of the course.
A dedicated fan of the Ryder Cup, Lindberg said she had woken up at 2am at home in Florida to watch the TV coverage and support her compatriot Alex Noren. She added: “What the European team achieved was fantastic and I think we were all inspired by it.”
“We’ll be enjoying playing the Americans,” said Nordqvist who boasted an unbeaten record in the inaugural event in 2014. “They may be ranked higher than us but that’s why we all love matchplay so much. You’re never out of it against your opponents and Caroline and I enjoy playing for each other. It’s a real honour representing Sweden.”
The hot favourites and hosts, South Korea, should be buoyed by the fervent support of thousands of enthusiastic fans when they meet the lowest ranked side Chinese Taipei in their opening match. Despite being strongly tipped to win the last two events the Koreans have never won but this year they boast a formidable squad including four major champions.
Cristie Kerr is a key player in the USA team defending their title. The 40-year-old veteran may not have shown the form she would have liked recently but there is no better competitor when it comes to team events and the two-time major winner is looking to extend an impressive winning streak following victories in the 2015 Solheim Cup, the 2016 UL International Crown and the 2017 Solheim Cup.
Meanwhile, England’s Solheim Cup duo Georgia Hall and Charley Hull will team up against the Australians with Jodi Ewart Shadoﬀ playing alongside Bronte Law.
In what could be described as an Ashes cricket clash both teams said they were relishing the chance to return to a match-play format after spending many years as juniors enjoying it.
Pool A – England vs. Australia 9:15 a.m. – Charley Hull/Georgia Hall (ENG) vs. Minjee Lee/Sarah Jane Smith (AUS) 9:30 a.m. – Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) vs. Katherine Kirk/Su Oh (AUS) Pool B – Japan vs. Thailand 9:45 a.m. – Nasa Hataoka/Ayako Uehara (JPN) vs. Moriya Jutanugarn/ Pornanong Phatlum (THA)
10 a.m. – Misuzu Narita/Mamiko Higa (JPN) vs. Ariya Jutanugarn/ Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (THA) Pool B – United States vs. Sweden 10:15 a.m. – Cristie Kerr/Lexi Thompson (USA) vs. Pernilla Lindberg/ Madelene Sagstrom (SWE) 10:30 a.m. – Jessica Korda/Michelle Wie (USA) vs. Anna Nordqvist/ Caroline Hedwall (SWE) Pool A – Republic of Korea vs. Chinese Taipei 10:45 a.m. – Sung Hyun Park/In-Kyung Kim (KOR) vs. Candie Kung/ Phoebe Yao (TPE) 11 a.m. – In Gee Chun/So Yeon Ryu (KOR) vs. Teresa Lu/Wei-Ling Hsu (TPE)