Scotland’s Gleneagles Hotel will play host to the sixteenth edition the Solheim Cup; a competition between Europe and America’s greatest female golfers. The contest, which alternates years with its sister tournament, the Ryder Cup, will run from Friday to Sunday this week (although the Opening Ceremony will take place on Thursday evening). Whether you’re an avid golf fan or new to the sport, the Solheim Cup offers quality, competition and excitement in abundance.
The European Team
From young starlets to seasoned stalwarts, this year’s European team is jam-packed with players that not only promise exciting golf but are also familiar names to golf fans across the globe. Whether you watched Georgia Hall’s thrilling 2018 Women’s British Open victory or have seen the videos of Anne Van Dam’s sensationally smooth swing circulating social media, most golf fans are more aware of the women’s game than ever before. Whilst Hall & Van Dam have already established their names at the age of 23, the likes of Charley Hull, Bronte Law & Celine Boutier are likely to blossom into household names amongst golf fans. These young guns will be joined by the experience of 38-year-old captain’s pick Suzann Petterson in her ninth appearance.
In fifteen previous tournaments, Europe have only managed 5 wins. Team USA will be looking for their third consecutive victory for the third time since the tournament’s 1990 inception (three-peats in 1994-98 & 2005-09), but there is no doubting that Team Europe’s players this year are far more competitive (at least on paper) than they had been historically. That Team USA, with their six rookies, are odds-on favourites seems extremely unjust, but I’m sure European Captain Catriona Matthew will be relishing that underdog role.
So why, if Team USA have been so dominant, would I fly the flag so adamantly for Team Europe? I’m not saying past results are redundant- especially not winning the two most recent tournaments- but when the women’s game has changed so drastically in recent years, there’s a danger in putting significant stock into those past results. As mentioned before, 50% of Team USA is made up of rookies. It's not the same team that won the past two tournaments, and it's not the same Team Europe that lost those tournaments.
One noteworthy difference is the fact that so many more European golfers play internationally, whilst the Americans have shown far less interest in heading in the opposite direction. Given that this year’s contest will be in Scotland, this can’t hurt the home team. When the 2014 Ryder Cup was hosted on the same course, a seemingly significantly inferior European team took advantage of the familiar setup style to cruise to victory. The same happened at Le Golf National in last year's Ryder Cup. Americans love vast, expansive courses that offer up plenty of birdies... The Europeans aren't so kind to themselves.
Sky Sports will show the Opening Ceremony from 5:30pm tonight (Thursday) on their dedicated Sky Sports Golf chanel, as well as their Main Event channel. You can catch Friday's coverage from 7:30am on the same channels, as well as Sky Sports Mix, whilst coverage will continue at the same time on Saturday & Sunday.
For those without Sky Sports, BBC will have an hour-long highlights show between 7-8pm on Friday (BBC Two), Saturday (BBC Four) & Sunday (BBC Two)
Make sure you tune in and support the girls in their quest for the cup! It all leads to this moment...
Written by Joseph Carabini