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No Annika encore: 'Time to move on'

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Annika Sorenstam poured her heart and soul into captaining this European Solheim Cup team. It was an 18-month labor of love for the best woman ever to hit a golf ball.

It’s time to let someone else take over the reins, Sorenstam said shortly after her team lost 16 ½ to 11 ½ at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.

“I said coming in this week it’s a one-time show,” she said. “It’s been a great journey and so forth. But we have so many wonderful candidates lining up, and it’s an honor to do this. I would love somebody else to get this opportunity to do this.

“It’s time to carry the torch on. The European team will always have a place in my heart. And this week will, too. So it is time to move on and it’s been a great journey.

Sorenstam, 46, played on eight Solheim Cup teams for Europe, winning twice and losing six times. She collected 24 points in her career, just one shy of the all-time record held by Laura Davies. She also was a vice captain in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

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Now the focus turns to the next European Solheim Cup captain. That won’t be decided for another several months, but it’s safe to assume that Catriona Matthew is the lead candidate since the 2019 matches are in her native Scotland at Gleneagles.

Matthew, 47, was a late addition to this team when Suzann Pettersen announced she couldn’t play, but Matthew collected a 3-1 record and came back from a 3-down deficit in her singles match to beat Stacy Lewis.

“This is going to be my last one playing,” Matthew said, “I was 3-down through 11 and I kind of said to myself ‘this is going to be my last match.’

“Managed to play all 18, and just squeak it past. So enjoyed the moment today. I think it’s time for some younger players to take over.”

And maybe those younger players will play for Matthews on the 2019 European Solheim Cup team.