ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The U.S. and European Solheim Cup teams will re-engage their intensifying rivalry with some fresh new faces in the mix.
American captain Juli Inkster announced Austin Ernst and rookie Angel Yin as her two picks Sunday to fill out her 12-player roster. They will join Danielle Kang as first-time Solheim Cup participants.
European captain Annika Sorenstam announced LPGA rookies Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden and Emily Pedersen of Denmark as two of her four picks. They joined Solheim Cup veterans Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and Caroline Masson of Germany as captain’s picks.
One-third of Sorenstam’s team will be playing a Solheim Cup for the first time, and they will do it in challenging conditions on foreign soil.
England’s Georgia Hall and Florentyna Parker made the team as the top two qualifiers on the Ladies European Tour points list. Neither has played a Solheim Cup before.
The Americans will meet Europe Aug. 18-20 at Des Moines Golf & Country Club.
Eight players made the American team off the U.S. Solheim Cup points list: 1. Lexi Thompson; 2. Stacy Lewis; 3. Gerina Piller; 4 Cristie Kerr; 5. Jessica Korda; 6. Danielle Kang; 7. Michelle Wie; 8. Brittany Lang.
Two players made it off the U.S. Solheim world rankings list: 1. Brittany Lincicome; 2. Lizette Salas.
Notably, for the first time since 2003, the Americans will field a team that won’t include Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel. They didn’t qualify and weren’t captain’s picks.
Inkster was asked how difficult it was to tell Creamer.
“She was upset,” Inkster said. “She’s a competitor. She wanted to be on the team. I would be upset, too. I explained to her why I picked these two here.”
One-third of this American team wasn’t part of the squad in Germany. Alison Lee and Angela Stanford helped the United States two years ago but aren’t part of this team after failing to qualify.
Four players made the European team off the Ladies European Tour points list: 1. Georgia Hall; 2. Florentyna Parker; 3. Mel Reid; 4. Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Four players made it off the European world rankings list, the four highest ranked players who didn’t make it on points: 1. Carlota Ciganda; 2. Suzann Pettersen; 3. Charley Hull; 4. Karine Icher.
Notably, Inkster and Sorenstam both submitted a protected name Sunday as an alternate that could serve as a third captain’s pick if one of their players is sick, injured or unable to play. It’s relevant with Korda mending a forearm injury and Nordqvist contending with a bout of mononucleosis.
The alternate’s names weren’t revealed.
The captains have until the opening ceremony begins on Aug. 17 to replace a player with the alternate, or until 5 p.m. on that day, whichever comes first.
While there was much drama with players making late runs to make the American team, nobody cracked the top eight in the U.S. Solheim point standings or the top two on the world rankings list.
Thompson will be the only top-10 player in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in this year’s Solheim Cup, but the nature of the intensifying rivalry between the United States and Europe in the biennial international team event makes that a mere footnote.
The Solheim Cup may be the one and only true rivalry today in the women’s game.
The Solheim Cup’s intensity grew even more with the controversy that ignited a historic American Sunday singles comeback in Germany two years ago.
The Europeans looked as if they were rolling to a rout for their third consecutive victory against the Americans when a furor erupted over whether Pettersen and the Euros should have conceded a putt at the end of fourballs in St. Leon-Rot. The incident angered and rallied the Americans before singles play.
The controversy flared after Lee scooped up her ball thinking an 18-inch putt to halve a hole was conceded near the end of a fourball match, with Pettersen insisting it wasn’t.
The Euros went on to win that match to take a 10-6 lead into singles, only to watch a highly motivated American team mount the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history.
The controversy set off a debate pitting the Rules of Golf against sportsmanship.
Record Solheim Cup crowds are expected with Pettersen and the Euros coming to Des Moines in less than two weeks and team captains expected to put a focus on sportsmanship.
“Everyone learns from mistakes or incident,” Sorenstam said. “I think we are ready to move on and focus on the good parts, and just let the golf showcase itself.”