Whitworth in the shadows at Solheim

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – She was there at the beginning of the Solheim Cup, 1990, and she was there again at Rich Harvest Farm to watch in person for the 11th edition.

No surprise, however, that the most proficient winner of them all, Kathy Whitworth, chose the shadows rather than the spotlight. That is the nature of this Hall of Famer who 19 years ago was the U.S. captain in the first Solheim Cup.

“Just kind of threw it together,” Whitworth said. “Heck, we only had eight players on each team.”

Her approach that year? Whitworth laughed. “Best advice I ever got was, ‘play like with like.’ ”

That’s why Betsy King was paired with Beth Daniel (“They had similar games,” Whitworth said) but when it came to Cathy Gerring and Dottie Pepper, well, Whitworth concedes she didn’t know much about either player.

“Turns out they were perfect, both fierce competitors. They annihilated people.”

Pepper, who was at Rich Harvest Farms working for The Golf Channel, won a foursomes match alongside Gerring, then beat Marie-Laure de Lorenzi in singles. Gerring, who walked every hole of Juli Inkster’s stirring win, won her singles match over Helen Alfredsson that year.

“We were a great team. It was a great time,” Gerring said.

As for Whitworth, 69, when the celebration started, she stayed in the background, but the American players knew she was there. Which got you wondering: Think Tiger Woods will walk along with the young American men at the 2046 Ryder Cup when he’s 70?

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