Solheim Cup 2021: Team rosters, course preview %
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Solheim Cup 2021: Team rosters, course preview

Solheim Cup


The 2019 Solheim Cup was unforgettable, with Suzanne Petterson holing a walk-off birdie putt on the 18th at Gleneagles to capture the cup for Europe. Petterson made that putt the last of her career, as she capped her incredible career with one of the most clutch putts in golf history.

This year the biennial event returns to American soil at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Here’s all the info you need to get ready for this week’s matches, which doesn't start until Saturday, but the atmosphere is already electric.

 

The Course

Inverness Club has hosted plenty of big events over the years. The course was the first to host all four levels of USGA events (US Junior, Amateur, Open, and Senior). It hosted the US Open in 1920, 1931, 1957, and 1971 plus two PGA Championships in 1986 and 1993.

Inverness was designed by Donald Ross in 1919 and renovated by Andrew Green in 2017. It has bentgrass fairways and greens combined with a combination of bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescue that has been cut to 2.5 inches. It will play 6,903 yards as a par 72.

Green’s project began as a bunker renovation, but quickly turned into more. Green made changes to the course with the goal of making the course return to its roots. He created new holes on land that was previously a farm field that used Ross’ design elements from the existing holes.

The third was turned into a long par 3 that uses elements from the original eighth hole. The hole will play 207 yards from the back tee for the Solheim Cup. There is a wide opening in front of the green to bounce shots up, but there is a huge drop off the left side of the green into a bunker that will be a tough up and down for par.

The green at the par-4 fourth looks wide and inviting, but the second shot plays severely uphill and there is a huge false front that will make any shot that comes up short roll right back down the hill.

Overall, the greens look large and inviting, as is typical with most Donald Ross designs. But there are plenty of elevation changes and twists and turns to keep players on their toes. Inverness should be a great test for the best American and European women this week.

Team USA

The American team has four of the top-15 players in the world, including world number one Nelly Korda, making them look much stronger on paper than the European side. However, the team is young as eight of the 12 players making their first or second Solheim Cup appearance.

Danielle Kang

World Ranking: 8

Solheim Cup appearances: 2 (2017, 2019)

Record: 4-4-0

Kang is a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including a major championship at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA. She has had plenty of success in match play as she won back-to-back US Women’s Amateurs in 2010 and 2011. Kang has a fiery personality that lends itself well to the Solheim Cup, and she’ll be a crucial member of the US team this week.

Ally Ewing

World ranking: 22

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2019)

Record: 1-3-0

Ewing was a late addition to the 2019 team after Stacy Lewis withdrew, and she has used that event to kick-start her career since. She won her first LPGA title at the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship and followed that with a win at the LPGA Match Play at Shadow Creek. She defeated Sophia Popov in the final match that week in what might have been a preview for this week.

Jessica Korda

World Ranking: 12

Solheim Cup appearances: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 5-4-6

Korda had to withdraw in 2017 but had success teaming with her sister Nelly at Gleneagles. The duo went 2-0-1 together, and Jessica topped it off by winning her singles match. Korda was a bright spot for the Americans in a tight loss two years ago and will look to carry over that success at Inverness.

Nelly Korda

World Ranking: 1

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2019)

Record: 3-0-1

Korda has had a monster year. She won the KPMG Women’s PGA to ascend to the top of the Rolex Rankings, and followed it up by winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She was dominant when paired with her sister Jessica in Scotland, so expect the two to be paired together again.

Solheim Cup

Lexi Thompson

World Ranking: 12

Solheim Cup appearances: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 5-4-6

The 11-time LPGA Tour winner will look to rebound after going winless in Scotland two years ago. She has had success playing with Christie Kerr in 2015 and 2017, but couldn’t quite find a comfortable pairing in 2019. Captain Pat Hurst is hoping her pod system will provide Thompson with a compatible partner this year.

Megan Khang

World Ranking: 37

Solheim Cup appearances: 2019

Record: 0-2-1

Khang went winless as a rookie in 2019, but she finished T4 at the US Women’s Open—her best finish in a major—earlier this year. Her driving accuracy is her main asset as she hits 80 percent of her fairways.

Jennifer Kupcho

World Ranking: 28

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Kupcho arrived on Tour with plenty of accolades—she won the 2018 NCAA Individual Championship at Wake Forest, won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and spent 34 weeks as the top-ranked amateur in the world. She is still looking for her first win, but she has nine top-10s since turning pro in 2019.

Lizette Salas

World Ranking: 14

Solheim Cup appearances: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 6-6-2

Salas is just 32-years old, but she is the oldest member of the American team. Her four previous Solheim Cup appearances provide some experience on a team filled with young players. Salas finished second in two majors this season, and her runner-up at the AIG Women’s Open got her just across the line to qualify for the team on points.

Solheim Cup

Austin Ernst

World Ranking: 27

Solheim Cup Appearances: 1 (2017)

Record: 2-2-0

Ernst failed to make the team in 2019, but wins in both 2020 and 2021 helped her qualify on points this year. With two recent top-10s, Ernst enters the Solheim Cup in good form.

Mina Harigae

World Ranking: 62

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Harigae was looking for a place to play when the LPGA pressed pause on their season in 2020, so she ventured to Arizona and played on the Cactus Tour, where she won events by nine, 14, and 16 shots. She stayed hot once the LPGA season resumed with three top-10s. Three more top-10s in 2021 earned her a spot on Pat Hurst’s team.

Yealimi Noh

World Ranking: 31

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Noh chose to play Monday qualifiers instead of playing college golf at UCLA in 2019. She qualified for the Cambia Portland Classic and finished second, allowing her to get her card for the 2020 season. The 20-year old notched top-15 finishes in three majors this season.

Brittany Altomare (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 54

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2019)

Record: 2-1-1

Altomare joins the team as a captain’s pick for the second straight Solheim Cup. She earned 2.5 points two years ago and will look to improve on that this week.

Solheim Cup

Team Europe

European Captain Catriona Matthew knows what we’re all thinking—that the American team is much stronger on paper. But Matthew knows that anything can happen in match play, and in team competitions, talent can often go out the window. She captained the European comeback victory in 2019 and is looking to run it back this week.

Matthew is counting on her team’s experience to make up for some of that talent deficit. The downside to having so many young Americans take over women’s golf is that there are a lot of new faces on the American team. Therefore, the Europeans are relying on old faces to help retain the Solheim Cup.

The European team uses a much different qualifying system than the Americans, with two players earning spots from Ladies European Tour points, and four players earning their places from the Rolex Rankings. The remaining six players are Captain’s picks compared to just three for the US.

Emily Kristine Pederson

World Ranking: 68

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2017)

Record: 0-3-0

Pederson went winless four years ago in Des Moines, but she gets another shot at the Cup this week. Pederson won three straight tournaments on the Ladies European Tour at the end of 2020.

Sophia Popov

World Ranking: 30

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Popov won the AIG Women’s Open without having status on the LPGA Tour in 2020, and her form has carried over into 2021 with three top-10s.

Carlota Ciganda

World Ranking: 41

Solheim Cup appearances: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 6-6-4

Ciganda hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish since May, but Catriona Matthew is counting on her experience this week. Ciganda helped spark the European comeback in 2019 by beating Danielle Kang in the first singles match, so she hopes the magic continues.

Georgia Hall

World Ranking: 29

Solheim Cup appearances: 2 (2017, 2019)

Record: 6-3-0

Hall went unbeaten (4-0-0) at Gleneagles in 2019 to play a huge part in the win. Hall won the 2018 AIG Women’s Open and has four top-15 finishes on the year, including top-10s at the Amundi Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s Open.

Solheim Cup

Anna Nordqvist

World Ranking: 16

Solheim Cup appearances: 6 (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 12-9-2

Nordqvist is the LPGA Tour’s most recent winner after notching her ninth career win and third major title at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie. And she is the most experienced Solheim Cup player on either side and her solid ball-striking should make her a good course fit at Inverness.

Leona Maguire (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 45

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Surprisingly, Maguire is the first Irishwoman to appear in a Solheim Cup. She is having her best season as a pro in 2021. Maguire posted two runner-up finishes and equaled the major championship scoring record with a 61 at the Amundi Evian Championship.

Matilda Castren (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 47

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

Castren had her coming out party at the Mediheal Championship in June when she shot a final round 65 to become the first woman from Finland to win on the LPGA Tour. Another win on the Ladies European Tour made her eligible to play in the Solheim Cup. Her rise has been quick—she was ranked 211th to start the year and is now ranked 47th.

Charley Hull

World Ranking: 38

Solheim Cup appearances: 4 (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)

Record: 9-3-3

Hull is not in great form—she has just to top-10s this season—but she has been a stalwart member of the last for European teams. She will need to find a new partner after only playing with Azahara Munoz in 2019.

Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 49

Solheim Cup appearances: Rookie

Record: 0-0-0

The Dane was in the driver’s seat heading to the 72nd hole at the AIG Women’s Open, but a brutal shank out of the greenside bunker led to a double bogey and cost her the title. However, the high finish at Carnoustie wasn’t a fluke, as she also finished T-3 at the ANA Inspiration. She will be looking for redemption this week.

Madelene Sagstrom (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 48

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2017)

Record: 1-2-0

Sagstrom was a superstar on the Symetra Tour, becoming the first player to make six figures in one season—and cross the $150,000 threshold—in 2016. Just a year later, Sagstrom played in the 2017 Solheim Cup in Des Moines. She got her first LPGA win at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio and tied for second at the AIG Women’s Open two weeks ago.

Celine Boutier (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 66

Solheim Cup appearances: 1 (2019)

Record: 4-0-0

Boutier went unbeaten at Gleneagles and should pair up with Hall again after the two went 3-0-0 in 2019.

Mel Reid (Captain’s Pick)

World Ranking: 53

Solheim Cup appearances: 3 (2011, 2015, 2017)

Record: 4-6-2

Reid was in Scotland with the European team in 2019, but it was as a vice captain. She returns as a player this time around after earning her first LPGA win at the ShopRite LPGA Championship in 2020.

About the author

Peter Santo

Peter Santo

Peter Santo is a golf writer and a graduate of Emerson College. He previously covered all sports for The Boston Globe, Associated Press, and The Washington Times.

When not writing about or playing golf, he can often be found listening to or creating country music.

He can be reached by email at petersanto1129@gmail.com

Follow him on Twitter @_PeterSanto