U.S. Ready to Battle Europeans at 2017 Solheim Cup in Des Moines
August 11, 2017
By Nick Hunter
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Solheim Cup returns to the United States next week when Des Moines Golf and Country Club plays host to the 15th edition of the tournament.
The U.S. ended Europe’s winning streak at two with a come-from-behind victory in 2015 in Germany. Holding a commanding 9-5 overall lead in the competition, the U.S. looks for its first victory on home soil since defeating the Europeans in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Juli Inkster returns as captain of the U.S. after leading her team to a historic victory two years ago. She was a member of five winning U.S. teams as a player and notched more victories than any other American at the event.
The 57-year-old joined the LPGA in 1983 and has collected 44 professional victories, including seven major championships, earning nearly $14 million in winnings.
The final rosters were announced for both sides Sunday following the completion of the LPGA Ricoh Women’s British Open. Lexi Thompson leads the way for the U.S., playing in her third consecutive Solheim Cup. She was unbeaten in Germany, winning two matches and earning two halves.
Stacy Lewis makes her fourth appearance for the U.S. and will look to improve her 4-7-1 record at the event. At the 2015 tournament, Lewis earned two wins in two of her matches.
Following a disappointing performance in her first appearance at the event in 2013, Gerina Pillar also went unbeaten in 2015 and sank the winning putt to clinch the tournament for the Americans. She owns a 3-2-2 record and will likely try to rekindle a strong pairing with Stacy Lewis that played extremely well for the U.S. in 2015.
Christie Kerr has been a mainstay for the U.S. for the past 15 years as she makes her ninth consecutive appearance at the event. Although her overall record is slightly above .500, she owns an impressive record in fourballs despite playing with nine different teammates over her last eight appearances to earn a total of 10 ½ points for the U.S.
Michelle Wie will make her fifth appearance next week, as does Brittany Lang. Brittany Lincicome will play in her sixth event, while Lizette Salas returns to Team USA for a third time.
Danielle Kang, Austin Ernst and Angel Yin were each named to the U.S. team as rookies Sunday, while it was announced that Paula Creamer will replace Jessica Korda, withdrew with a forearm injury after finishing fifth in points.
Annika Sorenstam will lead the Europeans for the first time next week after serving as vice captain in each of the last three events. A member of two winning European teams, with a record of 22-11-4, the eight-time Solheim Cup participant is one of the sport’s most successful players, notching 93 wins with 10 major victories to earn more than $22 million.
Team Europe features veterans Suzann Petersen and Anna Nordqvist, who return for their ninth and fifth Solheim Cup appearances, respectively, while the European roster includes four Solheim Cup rookies.
The 2015 Solheim Cup in St. Leon-Rot, Germany was shrouded in controversy on the final day during the fourballs match between Americans Allison Lee and Brittany Lincicome and Europeans Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull.
After missing her birdie putt and left with 18 inches for par on the 17th hole, Lee scooped up her ball thinking the par putt was conceded by Europe, but in fact, the Europeans denied giving the putt even though Pettersen and two caddies began to walk off the green to the 18th hole.
The result was a loss of hole for the United States and Lee and Lincicome would lose the 18th to give the Europeans a 2-up victory to increase its lead to 10-6 ahead of the final day’s singles matches.
“It’s just B.S. as far as I’m concerned,” a frustrated U.S. Captain Juli Inkster said of the controversy on the final day, “It’s just not right. It puts a damper on the whole thing.”
During the individual matches later in the day, the U.S. surged to win eight of the 12 matches to earn a 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory in the biggest comeback in the history of the event.
Europe was on the winning end of the most lopsided defeat in the event’s history, claiming the 2013 tournament at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo., by a margin of 18-10.
The United States earned a three-point victory in 2002 when the event was held at the historic Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.
Des Moines Golf and Country Club hosted the 1999 U.S. Senior Open with more than 200,000 fans in attendance. The course will play as a par 73 at a length of 6,894 yards for the women next week.
Action at the 2017 Solheim Cup begins August 18th with foursome matches scheduled to begin at 8:10 a.m.