PARKER, Colo. – A fresh cast of Europeans won more than the Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club on Sunday.
They won the fascination of international golf fans now curious to see where the Euros’ historic rout of the Americans might lead.
So what now for European women?
When will get to see 17-year-old Charley Hull on another big stage? What’s in store for Caroline Hedwall, the “Swedish Viking” who became the first player in Solheim Cup history to go 5-0? What happens to the game of Carlota Ciganda, the Spaniard who went 3-0 in her first Solheim Cup? Or Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Caroline Masson?
Who among the Euros will get the biggest Solheim Cup bounce?
The bounce is a real phenomenon.
Back in 2009, when Michelle Wie was a controversial American Solheim Cup captain’s pick, she revitalized her game taking the international team event by storm. She was 3-0-1 helping the Americans win at Rich Harvest Farms. Wie left there full of such new confidence and momentum that Hall of Famer Juli Inkster predicted Wie would break through and win her first LPGA title before the year was out. Inkster was right. Two months after the Solheim Cup, Wie won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, the first of her two LPGA titles.
Wie wasn’t the only American using momentum from a dynamic Solheim Cup performance to reach new heights.
Paula Creamer was a force for the Americans at Rich Harvest Farms, going 3-1. The following summer, she broke through to win her first major championship, the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont.
Stacy Lewis can testify to the bounce the Solheim Cup can give, even in defeat. She said her experience losing in Ireland in 2011 was an important impetus in helping her become the first American in nearly two decades to win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year last year and become the Rolex world No. 1 earlier this year.
Nobody should be surprised if Europe’s Suzann Pettersen, Catriona Matthew or Anna Nordqvist add another major. But what about Beatrice Recari? She has won two LPGA titles this year and looks poised to take her best form to the majors. And what about match-play dynamo Azahara Munoz? Or late-blooming Giulia Sergas?
We won’t have to wait long to see any of them again. All 12 Euros on the winning Solheim Cup team are scheduled to play the CN Canadian Women’s Open this week. So are 11 of the U.S. team members with everybody but Lizette Salas committed to play.
The guardians and supporters of European women’s golf are eager to see if this hungry, new Euro contingent will have a notable impact on the European game.
While much has been made of how the rise of Asian women has pushed the Americans to the shadows on so many big stages, it has been even worse for the Europeans.
When Lewis won the Ricoh Women’s British Open three weeks ago, she ended the longest drought in the history of major championships for American women, a winless spell of 10 consecutive majors. The Europeans have their own drought going. They haven’t won in the last 16 majors, not since Matthew won the Women’s British Open in 2009.
That’s what makes the introduction of The Evian Championship in France as a major championship next month intriguing beyond Inbee Park’s quest to become the first player to win four majors in a year or Lewis’ quest to become the first American woman to win back-to-back majors since Juli Inkster in ’99.
The European women will have some wonderful momentum going to Evian, golf’s newest major, the LPGA’s fifth major. It’s a terrific European setting and wonderful timing for the Euros to celebrate and build on what they achieved in Colorado.
By routing the Americans in historic fashion, winning the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil in the largest margin of victory in the event’s history, the Europeans whipped up all kinds of hope for the women’s game back on their continent.
“I think this is obviously a big step in the right direction,” European captain Liselotte Neumann said. “Hopefully, this will mean that the European Tour will have a bright future, and, hopefully, with lots more golf over there, more tournaments and better prize money and so on.”
Europe’s Solheim Cup team represented eight countries: Spain, Sweden, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Norway and Italy.
“With the media and TV, and all the countries back in Europe getting the feed from (Colorado Golf Club) and watching it, the game is growing over in Europe,” Neumann said. “I think, obviously, it means a lot for the future of women's golf. And golf overall in Europe.”
England’s Laura Davies, who missed out playing her first Solheim Cup this year, sees this new European contingent intensifying interest in the Solheim Cup.
“These girls are the pioneers now,” Davies said on Sky Sports. “All the ones who come behind them don't have to have 'We've never won it in America' saddled on their shoulders. It is game on.”