2002: LPGA - Europe tabs Nilsmark as ’03 captain
Sweden’s Catrin Nilsmark was to be named European Solheim Cup captain Aug. 14 for the 2003 match to be held in Barseback, Sweden. Alison Nicholas of England will be her assistant.
Nilsmark was one of three Swedes being considered to replace European captain Dale Reid, who will step down after this year’s match Sept. 20-22 at Interlachen in Edina, Minn. The 2003 Solheim Cup will be Sept. 12-14 at Barseback Golf & Country Club.
Nilsmark was chosen over Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann even though both players have played in all six matches to Nilsmark’s five.
“It came as a little bit of a surprise to me, but they – the (Ladies European) Tour, the Solheim family – really wanted a Swede to captain the European team,” Nilsmark said.
“A few of us (Swedish players) talked about it, and initially we did not want to give up the chance to play in the match. I thought about it a little bit, and I decided that if they wanted me, then I will give up playing on the team. It was an easy decision to make.
“I have memories of the Solheim Cup that I don’t think are going to be outdone, so I thought, ‘Well, what could be better than being the captain?’ Alfie (Alfredsson) was interested, as was Lotta (Neumann). But Helen’s really turned her game around and still wants to play. So does Lotta.”
Nilsmark made her first appearance in the biennial match in 1992, when she holed the winning putt at Dalmahoy in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her 3-and-2 victory over Meg Mallon gave Europe the 91⁄2 points needed to win. Europe eventually won, 111⁄2 to 61⁄2.
The 5-foot-11 professional has been a member of every Solheim Cup team since, compiling an 8-7-1 overall record.
Nilsmark played at Loch Lomond in 2000 as one of Reid’s captain’s selections. She rewarded Reid’s selection by winning all three of her matches, including a 1-up singles victory over Rosie Jones.
Nilsmark moved to 25th on the European Solheim Cup standings after a tie for fourth in the Weetabix Women’s British Open Aug. 11 at Turnberry.
The Solheim Cup veteran doesn’t expect to be in Reid’s plans this year.
“I played the first two days with Dale and played well, but there was no pressure on me,” she said. “She knows how I can play. I’ve played badly this season until now, but it’s not about what you’ve done before, it’s about what you can do in a month’s time.
“I don’t really think I have a chance of making the team. I haven’t even entered the WPGA (Championship of Europe).”
The WPGA at Royal Porthcawl, set for Aug. 22-25, is the last event that counts toward Solheim points. Nilsmark says she may enter the tournament if she plays well in this week’s Compaq Open in Sweden.
Nicholas has played in every Solheim Cup since its inception in 1990, and has a 7-8-3 record. Although nothing has been decided, the buzz is that Nicholas will take over the captaincy for the 2005 match.