Notes Cold Wet Conditions Could Favor Europe

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2007 Solheim CupHALMSTAD, Sweden -- With U.S. Open length and British Open weather, the Solheim Cup could turn into a haven for big hitters.
 
That's supposed to favor the Europeans.
 
Or at least that's the way the Europeans see it.
 
'Well, obviously it's a little strategy,' European captain Helen Alfredsson said of the course setup.
 
Most players braved only nine holes of practice at wind-swept Halmstad Golf Club on Wednesday. Temperatures were in the low 60s. A steady westerly wind was blowing in from the Kattegat -- the bay that separates Denmark from southern Sweden.
 
And this could be as nice as it gets. The weather is forecast to deteriorate over the weekend, bringing rain and heavier winds.
 
The course measures 6,615 yards, which is only 29 yards shorter than Pine Needles was for the U.S. Open earlier this year. That was the longest women's championship course at sea level.
 
Unlike the Ryder Cup, captains of the home team don't have the final say in course setup. Still, the Europeans picked the venue, and certainly weather and the stout size of the course -- to say nothing of the fact that four of their players are from Sweden -- played a factor in the choice.
 
Alfredsson, also a Swede, made it sound as though she had a hand in the placement of the tee boxes, at least on the practice day. In practice Wednesday, some groups hit from more than one tee box.
 
'I made it long because you can't put it longer, but you can always make it shorter,' Alfredsson said. 'My team is pretty comfortable out there. They think the course is playing well, and that's all I really care about, to be honest.'
 
Europeans Suzann Pettersen, Sophie Gustafson, Laura Davies and Maria Hjorth are all in the top 10 in driving distance on the LPGA Tour. Brittany Lincicome is the only American in the top 10.
 
American captain Betsy King doesn't look at the length of the course as a total disadvantage. For instance, she says, the No. 1 handicap hole, the par-5 fifth, plays 583 yards -- so long that nobody figures to be able to reach it in two.
 
'There's two sides to that story,' King said. 'Obviously, there are some longer European players, but then, we may be hitting first into some of the greens. And in match play, if you hit a good shot up there, that kind of puts the pressure back on the other side.'
 
CAPTAIN GOOFBALL:
Becoming a team captain in this prestigious event has not changed Helen Alfredsson.
 
She still has trouble taking herself too seriously and figures that rubs off on her team.
 
'It's very hard to say anything to them because they think I'm a total goofball,' she said. 'When I'm trying to be serious, they just go, `Oh yeah, right.' It's been hard with that but overall it's been fun because we've been friends for a long time.'
 
At 42, Alfredsson is actually younger than Laura Davies and not too much older than Annika Sorenstam. She's still on the LPGA Tour, though she has struggled the last few years and hasn't won there since 2003.
 
She was named captain of the team two years ago and gets to run the show in her home country.
 
Not that she's running too tight a ship.
 
'I would say Helen's different than the other captains we've had,' Sorenstam said, drawing laughs. 'She just has a very different approach. She's very easygoing. She appears to be less organized, but I know she's not. She knows what's going on. She just has more of a laid-back attitude.'
 
DIVOTS:
The Europeans wrapped up a 14-10 victory in the Junior Solheim Cup on Wednesday, played south of Halmstad in Bastad. Spain's Carlota Ciganda, Britain's Florentyna Parker and Germany's Nicola Rossler all went 3-0. The United States and Europe have now each won the junior event twice. ... Morgan Pressel just missed out on becoming the youngest woman to play in a Solheim Cup. She'll be 19 years, 3 months, 22 days on Friday. In 2005, Paula Creamer was 19 years, 1 months, 4 days when she made her Solheim debut. ... Creamer's cartwheel in front of the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews during British Open practice made for one of the best sports photos of the year. And now, one of her not-so-athletic moments has been documented, too: a picture from Solheim Cup practice of her on her backside after falling when she reached down to brush something off her pants.
 
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