Neumann will be Euro captain at '13 Solheim Cup

Liselotte Neumann talks about being named Captain of the European team for the 2013  Solheim Cup being held at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado, during a press conference on Wednesday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Liselotte Neumann talks about being named Captain of the European team for the 2013 Solheim Cup being held at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado, during a press conference on Wednesday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Liselotte Neumann initially said no. The soft-spoken Swede wasn’t sure whether she wanted to commit to the demands of the Solheim Cup. She had been Europe's assistant captain in 2009 to Alison Nicholas and the Junior Solheim Cup captain last year in Ireland. She was ready to move on to other things.

Then her Inbox lit up. European players urged Neumann to reconsider. A note from Sophie Gustafson was especially compelling. Even U.S. captain Meg Mallon asked Neumann to change her mind. (Annika Sorenstam, incidentally, also had said no.)

“I thought, What am I doing (passing this up)? This is crazy,” said Neumann, who eventually realized the opportunity might not come around again.

Neumann, a resident of Rancho Mirage and a U.S. citizen, is a logical choice for the 2013 staging, Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. The Mallon-Neumann duel started at last year’s Junior Solheim Cup, which ended in a tie. The U.S. team retained the cup after winning the 2009 competition. Neumann has been involved with the Solheim Cup since the beginning, in 1990 at Lake Nona.

“I don’t even think we had a media tent,” she said of those early days. “It might have been just a local paper there and a few people.”

She made six consecutive appearances in the biennial event, from 1990 to 2000.

Neumann made a splash in her first year on the LPGA when she won the 1988 U.S. Women’s Open and earned LPGA Rookie of the Year honors. She also won the 1994 Women’s British Open. She began to wind down her career in 2009 after amassing 13 LPGA victories and 13 international victories.

“She’s the Se Ri Pak and Ayaka Okamoto of Swedish golf,” said Mallon, referring to the trailblazers of South Korea and Japan, respectively. “She’s a pioneer.”

Neumann was the lone Swede on the tour even two years after her U.S. Open victory. By 1995, there were six Swedes on tour, and that number steadily increased. Sorenstam has long credited Neumann’s U.S. Open victory as a source of inspiration. There are now 13 Swedes playing on the LPGA, a number that is second only to the Americans and Koreans.

Neumann hasn’t been to Colorado Golf Club but said that from the online photos, it resembles a European course. Mallon said her European counterpart might not be boisterous on the course, but she’ll be effective in the locker room and players will respect her.

After all, the Swedes have been following her lead for decades.

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