Europe looking for historic Solheim Cup victory


2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Just once, Laura Davies wants to experience how it feels to win the Solheim Cup on someone elses turf.
The Americans have done it. Twice, in fact.
To overcome the crowds and the American team, which is always first-class and they always come in playing really well, which theyve done again, and just to beat them over here, I think the sense of satisfaction Sunday night would be beyond anything Ive achieved, Davies said.
Look at the statistics and all the chatter ahead of Fridays start at Rich Harvest Farms, though, and it would appear another year will go by without Davies getting her wish.
The U.S. team includes two of the worlds four best players, while four of Europes players are ranked 125th or lower. In addition to that home-field advantage ' chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! echoed around the course Thursday afternoon, no small feat in a place that plays 6,670 yards ' the Americans have won the last two Solheim Cups.
And then theres that gaping hole left by Annika Sorenstams retirement. Sorenstam was a staple of the European team the last decade, and her 22 match victories and 24 points are the most by any player, European or American.
I think, obviously, everybodys writing us off as the underdogs, Europes Janice Moodie said.
Just dont tell the Americans that.
Angela Stanford waited all of about 30 seconds Thursday before saying shes sick of hearing about the Americans being favorites. The Solheim Cup, after all, is match play, where quirky things happen more often than not. Entire events can turn on one putt, and the best team on paper isnt always the one celebrating on Sunday.
We need to go out and play like were the underdogs because I think that theyre going to be ready to play and theyre going to be ready to fight, Stanford said. Its one thing to think, yeah, we have a lot of talent and were stacked. But you cant go in thinking that the ball is just going to go in the hole. I mean, its still golf.
Just look at last weekends shocking finish at the PGA Championship.
Tiger Woods had won the two weeks leading up to the PGA, was atop the leaderboard at Hazeltine National all week and was 14-for-14 when he began the final round of a major with a lead. Yet it was little-known Y.E. Yang who walked off with the Wanamaker Trophy, not Woods.
Everyone knows we have not won on American soil, Europe captain Alison Nicholas said. There has to be a first time on some stage in some place. My word is, `possible.
The first two days of the Solheim Cup consist of 16 team matches and the tournament closes with 12 singles matches. As defending champions, the Americans need 14 of the 28 points to retain the cup. Europe needs 14 1/2.
Play begins with the fourball matches ' each player plays their own ball, and low score counts as the team score ' and things could get interesting early.
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer face Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson in the opening match. Kerr and Creamer are the Nos. 3 and 4 players in the world, respectively, but Pettersen might be Europes most consistent player, and she and Gustafson have a long history together at the Solheim Cup.
The final match pits Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie against Catriona Matthew and Maria Hjorth. Pressel and Wie, of course, are the face of golfs youth movement, players who were holding their own against the grown-ups as teenagers. Wie is a Solheim Cup rookie while Pressel beat Sorenstam in a key singles match in 2007.
Matthew is one of Europes veterans, but she won the Womens British Open two weeks ago.
The perception in our team room is that we have to play our best golf to beat this team. And we do, U.S. captain Beth Daniel said. Match play, anything can happen.
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