ST. LEON-ROT, Germany – The Europeans look to win their third consecutive Solheim Cup when the matches begin early Friday. Our team at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club weighs in with answers to three questions.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO A EUROPEAN VICTORY?
RANDALL MELL: Keep an eye on the Scandinavians. Over the last two Solheim Cups, Suzann Pettersen (Norway) is 5-2-1, Anna Nordqvist (Sweden) 4-3-1 and Caroline Hedwall (Sweden) 7-1-1. They are cold-blooded match-play dynamos who clearly lead the way for Carin Koch’s squad.
JAY COFFIN: Early momentum. The same can be said for both squads but it’s especially crucial for Europe to get out to an early Day 1 lead and work the German gallery into a lather. They absolutely cannot play from behind. The opening foursomes format on Friday is one where Europe usually succeeds. Win the opening session, get the crowd rowdy, make key putts like they usually do and hold on from there.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO AN AMERICAN VICTORY?
MELL: Stacy Lewis leads the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation this year, Alison Lee is third and Morgan Pressel is eighth. Cristie Kerr (12th) is considered one of the game’s best putters. The Europeans have just one player among the LPGA’s top 10 (Sandra Gal). The Americans need to putt like they do the rest of the year to win.
COFFIN: The U.S. hopes ride on the quartet of Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Morgan Pressel. It’s really that simple. These four have been the heart and soul of many Solheim Cup teams and they went an unfathomable 4-10-2 combined two years ago outside Denver. None played well and all four have been waiting for revenge ever since the last putt dropped in 2013. The Americans go as these four go.
WHO WILL WIN THE SOLHEIM CUP?
MELL: United States. The Americans will take their lead from captain Juli Inkster, who seems to be setting just the tone she intended, getting the American players to focus on pure golf and the way they play the rest of the year. They are the better players in this competition, but they haven’t been the better team. Inkster bridges that gap.
COFFIN: Europe. The Americans insist they’re not putting pressure on themselves to end the two-match Solheim skid but I’m not buying it. This team insists it’s the underdog but their collective world ranking shows they should drum the Europeans. Europe will do what it ususally does in team matches, it’ll rally around it’s captain, it’ll make all the crucial putts it needs to make and it’ll win a third consecutive cup.