The 12th edition of the Solheim Cup begins Friday morning at Killeen Castle. The Americans hold an overall 8-3 advantage, winning each of the last three. Who will win this year? GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell and editorial director Jay Coffin weigh in with their opinions:
By RANDALL MELL
DUNSANY, Ireland – Europe has the ingredients essential to winning this Solheim Cup.
They’ll win because they’re wounded, desperate souls.
They’ll win because if they get beat up for a fourth consecutive time by the Americans they’ll be compared with sport’s greatest losers, somewhere there with the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters.
They’ll win because a loss stirs up talk about how irrelevant they’re making the Solheim Cup.
They’ll win because they’ve got this unpredictable Irish weather going for them, three seasons blowing through in an hour. It would have helped if they had picked a links home to fully harness their advantage, instead of a parkland course that makes Americans feel more comfortable, but the weather’s inhospitable for the visitors, just the same.
The Americans have more overall talent, with seven of the top 20 in the Rolex world rankings on their roster and the Europeans just one, but the Euros overall depth is improved over recent teams, and they’re hot with winning habits built this season. The Euro roster has won 12 titles this year (14 if you count the Nation’s Cup two-woman team event), the Americans three. Yes, you can argue it’s a lot harder to win an LPGA event but winning breeds winning.
The Americans are stronger, but underdogs can be dangerous in these events. The Euros haven’t trailed going into Sunday in the last three Solheim Cups but lost them all. Mostly, they’ll win this time because they’ve finally got a team that has a chance in Sunday singles.
By JAY COFFIN
DUNSANY, Ireland – Until the Europeans show that they can contend in this event and can stand toe-to-toe in Sunday singles, I'll pick the Americans.
Europe is strong, most of its team plays on the LPGA so names are familiar to American golf fans, but there are five rookies. Solheim Cup pressure is immense and it'll take time to adjust. By the time they do, it could be too late.
U.S. captain's pick Ryann O'Toole is a liability, there's no sugarcoating it. But she won't play much. It'd be a surprise if she played more than once before singles.
On the other end of the spectrum Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome are four U.S. heavyweights who could play all five matches. That is a great advantage – one Europe cannot match – as all four raise their intensity during match play. Lewis is a Solheim Cup rookie, but she's cut from the same cloth as Creamer. She's ready to contribute in a big way.
Europe is playing better right now, but the U.S. has more talent. Seven of the Americans are in the top-20 of the world rankings, compared with only one (Suzann Pettersen) for the Europeans. That much of a talent gap for Europe will be difficult to overcome.
This has all the makings of a close competition, but the U.S. will prevail because of depth and singles strength.
Just like always.