All is now set for golf fans to experience one of the most important sporting events in the world for the first time in Spain, when the renowned Finca Cortesín golf resort hosts the Solheim Cup from 22 to 24 September. The event brings together the best players from the United States and Europe every two years in a duel that – like its male counterpart, the Ryder Cup – arouses great passions. More than 75,000 spectators are expected at the Costa del Sol course during the week of the tournament.
The overall tournament record might seem slightly unbalanced on first viewing (10 victories for the United States compared with seven for Europe), but in recent Solheim Cup history the “Old Continent” has taken the initiative and become the rival to beat.
With four victories in the last six editions, including a memorable and thrilling one-point win at the 2019 Solheim Cup in Gleneagles (Scotland), the European team has been able to combine experience and youth to thwart its powerful American counterpart, always well guided and captained by former players who have made history on the Ladies European Tour (LET). After the Europeans’ away victory by 15-13 in the last edition (2021 in Ohio), the locals will be aiming to secure their third consecutive victory against the Americans.
Providing added satisfaction for Spanish golf, it is worth highlighting the impact of Spaniards in the European team. Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Muñoz and Beatriz Recari have all repeatedly demonstrated the high quality of their golf, while a new generation of Spanish golfers promises to continue giving European fans some memorable moments.
The responsibility for strategically guiding Europe lies with captain Suzann Pettersen, who will be assisted by vice-captains Anna Nordqvist, Laura Davies and Caroline Martens.
The eight players who automatically qualified to represent the European team are: Celine Boutier (France) Maja Stark (Sweden), Charley Hull (England), Leona Maguire (Ireland), Georgia Hall (England), Linn Grant (Sweden), Carlota Ciganda (Spain) and Anna Nordqvist (Sweden). The first two qualified through the LET Solheim Cup points list, and the other six via the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. The four players selected by the captain are Madelene Sagström and Caroline Hedwall (Sweden), Gemma Dryburgh (Scotland) and Emily Kristine Pedersen (Denmark).
World number one Lilia Vu, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2023 (including two majors), led the list of seven players who qualified for the U.S. team via the Solheim Cup points list. The others (in qualifying order) are: Nelly Korda, Allisen Corpuz, Megan Khang, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee. Another two qualified from the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Lexi Thompson and Rose Zhang; and the captain's final three picks were Ally Ewing, Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin.
France’s Celine Boutier topped the LET Solheim Cup points standings with 264.57 points thanks in part to her back-to-back victories at The Amundi Evian Championship and the FREED GROUP Women’s Scottish Open Presented by Trust Golf.
Boutier, who made her Solheim Cup debut in 2019, is a two-time winner and has won 5.5 points in her seven matches at the previous two editions.
The newly crowned major champion is joined by Sweden’s Maja Stark, who clinched second spot with 262.42 points.
Stark, who turned professional in August 2021, has won six times on the LET in the past two years including the 2022 edition of the co-sanctioned ISPS HANDA World Invitational which secured her membership of the LPGA Tour. The 23-year-old was part of the PING Junior Solheim Cup team in 2017, just six years ago, and will now be teeing it up as a rookie at the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Six players qualified for Team Europe via the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, with England’s Charley Hull leading the way. This will be Hull’s sixth consecutive Solheim Cup, having made her debut aged 17, and she has been on the winning team on three occasions.
After an outstanding rookie performance in Toledo in 2021 where she earned 4.5 points out of 5, Ireland’s Leona Maguire returns to Team Europe. England’s Georgia Hall has qualified for her fourth Solheim Cup after making her debut in 2017 and being on the winning team for the past two editions.
There will be another rookie on the team as Linn Grant secured qualification for her first Solheim Cup. The Swedish star has won five times on the LET in the past two seasons including at the 2022 Scandinavian Mixed where she became the first woman to win a DP World Tour event, and she recently secured her maiden victory on the LPGA Tour.
Spain will have a home hero in the team at Finca Cortesin as Carlota Ciganda will be making her sixth consecutive appearance for the European team.
Anna Nordqvist will be a playing vice-captain in Spain after she secured her place in the final automatic qualifying spot via the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. The Swede will be making her eighth consecutive appearance in the competition, having won 15.5 points from the 27 matches she has played.
Nordqvist commented, “I’m very proud to be taking on vice-captaincy and playing this year. I don’t think it’s a secret how much I love the Solheim Cup and it brings out the best in me. It’s always my biggest goal every two years to make the team and try to help Europe win. There’s no feeling like stepping up on the first tee box.”
Speaking about her team, captain Suzann Pettersen said, “I’m very happy with my team right now for the 2023 Solheim Cup. Congratulations to the eight players who have automatically qualified. We have so much experience in the team and it’s great to have our rookies Maja and Linn representing Europe for the first time. We have never had such a strong group of players in terms of world ranking. The European players have been playing well this year and putting in strong performances across the board.”
Captained by such legendary stars as Kathy Withworth, JoAnne Carner, Judy Rankin, Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez, Betsy King, Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster, the team defending the American flag at the Solheim Cup traditionally dominated the most important competition in women's world professional teams golf.
In the 17 editions played to date, the Americans have won 10 times and have made their home country a fortress, where they have only lost twice.
With Lexi Thompson, the Korda sisters, Danielle Kang and Marina Alex as key players, the revamped American team has an excellent team for the future and looks set to be a formidable opponent for upcoming editions of the Solheim Cup.
This time, the composition of the matches will be the responsibility of captain Stacy Lewis, who will be assisted by Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and Angela Stanford..
Norwegian Suzann Pettersen has an impressive list of achievements, including two majors and 15 victories on the LPGA Tour. Born in Oslo 42 years ago, she is a Solheim Cup icon, having represented Europe nine times as a player and twice as vice-captain. In the European ranks, she has participated in five victories, including the last two, at Gleneagles (Scotland) and Inverness Club (Ohio).
As a player, Pettersen made her debut in the 2002 Solheim Cup. She played in the next seven editions, contributing to European victories in 2003, 2011 and 2013, before playing a starring role in 2019 by sinking the winning putt – which she considers the best moment of her career.
Once ranked number two in the world, Pettersen has amassed 21 professional titles between the LET and LPGA Tours, including two majors: the 2007 McDonald's LPGA Championship and 2013 Evian Championship.
Pettersen was the subject of one of the most emotional Solheim retirement announcements. At the 2019 edition, after holing the decisive putt on the last hole, she announced his retirement, saying she could not improve on that final feat.
Two years later, at the 2021 Solheim Cup, Pettersen was Catriona Matthew’s vice-captain, and the subsequent transfer of power to a former player who knows the competition and the current players on the circuit to perfection, seemed the most logical decision – as it turned out to be.
SURPRISE GOLFING CAREER FOR AMERICAN
Born in Toledo (Ohio) 38 years ago, Stacy Lewis is linked to the world of golf in a truly surprising way, given that she was forced to undergo scoliosis surgery before turning professional in a sport that has converted her into a legend.
Despite the fact that this deviation in her spine could have put her off the game, her story ended in the complete opposite way. As a player on the LPGA Tour, Stacy Lewis is now famous for having won two majors and played in four editions of the tournament in which she is now captaining the Americans. Lewis won her first major in 2011 (Kraft Nabisco) and her second in 2013 (Women’s British Open).
Lewis was world number one for more than 20 weeks between 2013 and 2014, and she has 13 LPGA Tour titles to her credit. The 2023 Solheim Cup will not be her first time representing the United States: she played in the 2016 Olympic Games, as well four Solheim Cups as a player, two of them during her heyday (2011 and 2013), when she won majors. In addition, she played in 2015 and 2017, and in 2019 she was an assistant to the American captain. Of her four appearances as a player in this event, Lewis won half of them: the 2015 and 2017 editions, losing to Europe in 2011 and 2013.