A Total Team Victory


Hopefully you were watching. What with the beginning of the NFL season, college football and Andre Agassis U.S. Open run, the Solheim Cup easily could have been lost in the shuffle.
If you missed it, you missed out on one of the better golf events of the year.
The Solheim Cup was everything last years Ryder Cup was not. It was spirited, tightly contested and entertaining until the end ' and won by the U.S.
Cristie Kerr
The U.S. team celebrates after regaining the Solheim Cup from their European counterparts.
For once, U.S. fans at the site of the competition had something to cheer about. The Stateside supporters in Carmel, Ind., started out a little sluggish, perhaps expecting another European runaway after the away team won the first session 3-1 on Friday.
But as the Americans started to produce some good golf shots, a few fist pumps and some points, the crowd provided plenty of support.
Ultimately, the U.S. again defended their home turf with a singles romp. Historically, in any type of Cup, if the Americans prevail, they do so because of one-on-one domination.
But this was a team victory, not an individual one.
This U.S. squad dispelled the notion that Americans cant spell team without an I.
Thanks to the leadership of Nancy Lopez, this team bonded quite quickly. Lopez watched the contentious 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup team and worked hard to form a cohesive unit.
They played organized practice rounds at Crooked Stick weeks before the competition was set to begin. Even Beth Daniel, an eight-time Solheim participant, couldnt remember this ever happening.
On bus rides together, they sang and danced and gossiped and told dirty jokes. Cristie Kerr referred to the group as a sisterhood.
Through music, they bridged the age gap, which stretched from 19-year-old Paula Creamer to 48-year-old Daniel.
Lopez grooved to hip-hop. Meg Mallon played DJ. Juli Inkster sang karaoke style.
These were hardly the actions expected of women in their 40s, women in the Hall of Fame, and women with children. But in behaving like girls, they created an all-important connection to the young women on their team.
Their spirit carried over from the team room to the course. Christina Kim rollicked down the fairways, pumping her fist and screaming at her ball every step of the way. Paula Creamer sported more body ink than Allen Iverson, covering herself from cheek to ankle in patriotic, temporary tattoos.
Most importantly, nearly every member of the team helped contribute in some way to this victory. Eleven of the 12 players earned at least one point, with Wendy Ward, a captains pick who went 0-3, being the lone exception. And in a 15 -12 victory, every point was crucial.
This years U.S. team had three players in their 20s ' Kim, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis ' and one, Creamer, in her teens. Those four young ladies were more than just role players this week; they combined for 11 points. In the deciding singles session, three of the four won, with Creamer, who sparked pre-tournament interest by guaranteeing victory, throttling Solheim legend Laura Davies, 7 and 5.
Even more promising for the Stars and Stripes, a slew of talented teens, led by Morgan Pressel and (perhaps) Michelle Wie, are waiting in the wings. Pressel was a member of this years victorious Junior Solheim Cup team and hung around to cheer on her possible future teammates ' just as Creamer had done two years ago in Sweden.
With one match remaining on the course, and the Cup already claimed, U.S. team members walked arm-to-shoulder, all in a row, to witness the conclusion of the ninth Solheim Cup. And when Rosie Jones halved her match with Suzann Pettersen, they rushed the green. There were hugs all around.
They then gathered in a circle, as a team, put their hands in the middle of the pack and chanted: USA, all the way! USA, all the way!
It was appropriate. This was a team triumph.
Hopefully you were watching. And hopefully, so was the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup