Solheim Cup: Anne van Dam emerges heroic in Scottish Sunshine

David Cannon/Getty Images

Solheim Cup: Anne van Dam emerges heroic in Scottish Sunshine

Solheim Cup

Solheim Cup: Anne van Dam emerges heroic in Scottish Sunshine

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Sam Torrance once uttered a Ryder Cup line tailor-made for players like Anne van Dam: “Out of the shadows come heroes,” Torrance said after captaining Europe to victory in the 2002 Ryder Cup.

Torrance made his comment after four of his rookies – Phillip Price, Niclas Fasth, Pierre Fulke and Paul McGinley – helped Europe win 15 ½ – 12 ½ at The Belfry.

Van Dam emerged not quite from the shadows on the opening day of the 16th Solheim Cup, more out of the Scottish Sunshine. Yet a hero she was. The longest player in women’s golf teamed with veteran Suzann Pettersen in the opening four-ball match to defeat Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas 4 & 2.

The Dutch player was the star of the fourball.

MORE: Photos | Scores | List of winners

On the opening hole you’d have thought van Dam was the veteran and Pettersen the rookie. The 38-year-old didn’t feature in the hole after hitting her tee shot into the right-hand fairway bunker and taking two shots to get out. Van Dam made a four to win the hole.

Pettersen halved the third hole and rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 fourth to go back to 1 up after the U.S. duo won second. Then she let van Dam take center stage to do the heavy lifting.

The 23-year-old rattled off three birdies in four holes from the sixth hole to give the European pair a four-hole lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish.

Anne van Dam of Team Europe plays her shot from the 15th tee during Day 1 of the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

“I just want to say I had the best partner in the world today,” Pettersen said. “I felt a bit like Seve (Ballesteros) out there – I was left and right and everywhere.

“When you have a superstar like this who just bombs it, you’ve got to be very happy. I mean, this girl, I think is the best golfer I’ve ever seen on the women’s side. Today she just was absolutely a rock star.

“We ham and egged it. I wasn’t on top of my game. But you know what? That’s where you have to scramble out here when you have a partner like her, make your birdie every now and again.”

Van Dam could have been forgiven for suffering first tee nerves. There were none of those.

“To be honest, I was so relaxed,” Van Dam said. “I was standing on the first tee and Suzann said to me before we walked in, ‘just enjoy this experience.’ And that’s what I did.

“What I learned today is what Suzann said. ‘You don’t need to play perfect golf to win holes out here, even in fourballs. You don’t need to be aggressive. You need to give yourself chances.’ It’s what we did. We trusted our own game.”

You can bet European captain Catriona Matthew will trust van Dam over the next two days.

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