5 things to know about the Solheim Cup

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The biggest in women’s golf kicks off in Germany tomorrow morning – the Solheim Cup. Played with as much fire and passion as the Ryder Cup, the Solheim has become one of the bggest events in womens’ sport, as teams from Europe and the USA do battle in the same format as the men. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s contest.

1: It’s as fiercely competitive as the Ryder Cup

The Solheim Cup is the ladies’ equivalent of the Ruder Cup, and held in the same format. So it takes place every two years and is held on courses in Europe and the USA. Both teams consist of 12 players, which have qualified through points on the LPGA and Ladies European tours, or been picked by their respective captains. The event is played over three days and 28 matches take place in total. On the first day eight foursome matches will be held; on the second day eight four ball matches are played and on the last day twelve single matches will take place in order to determine the overall winner. Like the Ryder Cup, 14.5 points is the magic number. 

2: There’s three Brits playing for Europe

England’s Charley Hull and Mel Reid automatically qualified for this year’s event, while Catriona Matthew bagged a wild card spot.  Hull, from Norhtans, was the youngest player in Solheim Cup history when she as 17 and picked to play in the USA last time. She won over the US galleries and her trouncing of Paula Creamer in Sunday’s singles helped her nail the Rookie of the Year title. Reid didn’t make the last team, and has admitted she almost quit golf altogether in 2014 after a poor season on the Ladies European Tour as she struggled to cope with the death of her mother, Joy, in a car accident in 2012.

3. It’s being held on a top course

St. Leon-Rot Golf Club near Heidelberg, Germany, where Tiger Woods won the Deutsche Bank/SAP Open three times when it was played here from 1999. It is a par 72 at 6,592 yards. “Somebody with length has a huge advantage,” US star Stacy Lewis said. “I think this is a fantastic golf course. A lot of great holes. Some of the holes got some teeth to it,” says Euro star Suzann Pettersen.

4: On paper the USA should walk it…

The average world ranking of the US team is 24.6; for Europe it’s 50.6. The Americans have won 16 LPGA titles over the last two seasons, the Euros have won four. The Americans have won 10 majors, the Europeans four. The Americans are younger, too. Their average age is 28.3 compared to the Europe’s 30.3. On paper then, the US team should walk it. But in many eyes, Europe are the favouties. They have dominated the last two events and the Americans haven’t won the trophy since 2009, and last time out the Euros won with a record total. All 12 players on the European team are Solheim Cup veterans – 11 of the 12 were either on the team that beat the US in 2013 or 2011. “We’re the underdogs,” says US captain.

 5: Who’s on the team

Veteran Scot Catriona Matthew was among the four wildcards chosen by Europe captain Carin Koch, and the 46-year-old will make her eighth appearance in the event this year. “I’m very proud,” she said. “As you get older, they get more special.” Caroline Hedwall (Sweden), Caroline Masson (Germany) and Karine Icher (France) are Europe captain Koch’s other picks. “Catriona has the experience, can play with anyone and is always calm,” she said. English pair Charley Hull and Melissa Reid had already qualified for the event. Former US Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer and Brittany Lang were chosen by US captain Inkster.  Creamer, 29, will make her sixth appearance, while Lang, 30, will represent America for a fourth time. “They add a lot to the team, not just as far as golf, but chemistry and experience,” said Inkster. 

Europe: Carlota Ciganda, Sandra Gal, Caroline Hedwall, Charley Hull, Karine Icher, Caroline Masson, Catriona Matthew, Azahara Munoz, Gwladys Nocera, Anna Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen, Melissa Reid.

United States: Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lang, Alison Lee, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Gerina Piller, Morgan Pressel, Lizette Salas, Angela Stanford, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie.

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