PARKER, Colo. – Rookies might think they know, but as Paula Creamer can attest, there’s nothing like the first tee of the Solheim Cup. Especially the first time.
“When it came time to go to the first tee, Beth Daniel had to go get (Paula) on the (practice) green,” said Meg Mallon of the 2005 Solheim. “She said, ‘I knew it was going to be like this, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this.’ She was literally frozen on the green. So it will be interesting to see how they respond.”
Rookie Lizette Salas will get to know quickly, teeing off with Stacy Lewis at 7:40 a.m. at Colorado Golf Club in the opening foursome session. Of course, Lewis might be the one who hits the first shot, but Salas will feel the enormity of the event early on. They’ll take on a pair of Swedes in Caroline Hedwall and Nordqvist.
“I wanted to go with some experienced players for sure,” said Euro captain Liselotte Neumann, who has six rookies on her squad. Rookies Charley Hull, Guilia Sergas, Caroline Masson and Carlota Ciganda will be sitting out the morning session.
Only two pairings on both teams have any history together. Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford halved a four-ball session in 2009. Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer, playing in tomorrow’s final match against Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher, have paired together three previous times. In 2011, they halved a foursomes match and they’re 2-0 in the fourball format.
Sitting for the Americans: Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome and rookies Gerina Piller and Lexi Thompson.
“I wanted to get Lizette out right away,” said Mallon. “Then Jessica Korda, I think, can handle any position out here as she kind of relishes this stage a little bit.”
Mallon shared the pairings with her team on the bus Thursday morning and said not one person’s head went down. From the beginning, she has told her players the goal was to not have anyone play five matches.
“This team’s ready to play,” Mallon said.
Neumann, the first Swede to win a major, called her first pairing of Hedwall and Nordqvist “The Swedish Vikings.”
The Europeans have never won on American soil, so they’ll be trying to conquer new territory here in Colorado. Organizers are expecting over 20,000 fans each day. Suzann Pettersen and the most diverse Solheim Cup team to date will have their work cut out.
“We still don’t know what it takes because we have never done it before,” Pettersen said. “But I think if we can go out and try and win every section, every kind of wave, we’ll do a good job.”
Consider the stage set.
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Friday foursomes matches at Solheim Cup
7:40 a.m.: Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (Europe) vs. Stacy Lewis/Lizette Salas (U.S.)
7:52 a.m.: Suzann Pettersen/Beatriz Recari (Europe) vs. Brittany Lang/Angela Stanford (U.S.)
8:04 a.m.: Catriona Matthew/Jodi Ewart-Shadoff (Europe) vs. Morgan Pressel/Jessica Korda (U.S.)
8:16 a.m.: Azahara Munoz/Karine Icher (Europe) vs. Cristie Kerr/Paula Creamer (U.S.)