ST. LEON-ROT, Germany – Caroline Hedwall has some big shoes to fill this week at the Solheim Cup. Those shoes belong to her.
Two years ago the Swede was not playing particularly well before the Solheim Cup and had been struggling with her putting. Hedwall was well off the radar as more heralded players like Suzann Pettersen took a share of the spotlight for Team Europe early in the week. But, three days later, Hedwall left Denver with a 5-0 record, the first time in the history of the matches that a player had gone undefeated in all five sessions.
Hedwall, 26, has not been playing well again this year. She sprained her right wrist last year while gathering luggage at an airport and, rather than take a few months to heal properly, Hedwall opted to play through the pain. The injury didn’t allow her to fully release the club through the ball and it even bothered her while putting. But it also caused damage to her psyche.
In 18 LPGA events this year, Hedwall has missed eight cuts and her best finish is a tie for 26th place. Well out of the European Solheim Cup points list, she was a captain’s pick by fellow Swede Carin Koch.
Those believing Hedwall won’t have much of an impact this week at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club should think again. Much to the dismay of the Americans, there are similarities between this year and 2013.
“I’m hitting the ball really well, I just haven’t putted that well,” Hedwall said Wednesday. “It kind of was the same situation when I came into Solheim in 2013. I didn’t make many putts and all of a sudden it works. I’m kind of hoping for some magic this week too.
“It’s different when you’re playing match play. I’m kind of an aggressive putter. I think I can be more aggressive when it’s match play compared to stroke play.”
Earlier this summer, Hedwall has enlisted the help of Fanny Sunesson to work with her on her mental game. Nick Faldo’s former caddie has tried to free up her student and have her play without fear, something Hedwall says she’s prepared to do this week.
“I’m sure I’ll be really nervous, but it’s just a nice feeling,” Hedwall said. “It’s supposed to feel like that.”