2004: Nilsmark returns as Solheim captain

Stockholm, Sweden

Catrin Nilsmark had a change of heart.

After Nilsmark, 36, led Europe to a convincing victory in last year’s Solheim Cup in her native Sweden she said chances were slim she’d return as captain. However, the Ladies European Tour announced Feb. 16 that Nilsmark accepted the captaincy for the 2005 Solheim Cup.

“Obviously, I’m extremely delighted to be asked to be captain once again,” said Nilsmark, who holed the winning putt for Europe in 1992 at Dalmahoy in Scotland to beat the United States for the first time. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to carry out my role without crutches, and hopefully in good health this time.”

It’s difficult to argue with Nilsmark’s rookie success. Although she was hobbled with a ruptured disc in her lower back the entire week, Nilsmark made all the correct decisions at Barseback Golf & Country Club in Loddekopinge.

Right move No. 1 came when pairing Annika Sorenstam with Suzann Pettersen both days to produce two crucial points. Another successful tactic came by joining Scots Janice Moodie and Catriona Matthew in three team matches, producing two victories and a halve. The final move came Sunday when Nilsmark entered the singles matches with a 3-point lead and loaded the front of the lineup, then sprinkled Sorenstam and Pettersen in the middle. The outcome was a lopsided 171⁄2-101⁄2 victory over the Americans that sent Sweden into a frenzy.

“It was a natural choice for the selection committee as Catrin proved to be an inspirational figure last season and she instilled a fantastic team spirit,” said Ian Randell, CEO of the LET. “She is extremely popular with the players, staff, caddies and the media. We are convinced having Catrin at the helm once more will give Europe the best opportunity to retain the trophy.”

Nilsmark’s ’05 squad probably will look similar to the ’03 team, with the core of Sorenstam, Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson likely leading the way. U.S. captain Nancy Lopez will hope young American talent will develop over the next 11⁄2 years to join veterans Juli Inkster, Beth Daniel, Rosie Jones and Meg Mallon, who have said they’d like to play in one more Cup before their careers end.

The 2005 Solheim Cup is scheduled for Sept. 9-11 at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind. The U.S. leads the series 5-3 and never has lost on home soil. The 2007 Solheim Cup will return to Sweden, the LET announced. The venue will be named later this year.

– Staff and wire reports

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