More Than Just A Solheim Win for the U.S.
I’m so sorry that the Solheim Cup has been offered on alternative years since its inception. It’s just too much fun in one week to spend two years of waiting. Karsten Solheim, businessman and golf club designer, really knew what he was doing, not only in pitting Europeans against Americans, but in letting the women do the swinging. Considering the enthusiasm this event generates, one would think we’d been doing it for hundreds of years, not just shy of thirty. Held at the Peter Dye designed Des Moines Golf and Country Club this year, the American team won handily by several points in a mix of ensemble and singles matches.
In terms of results, the U.S. managed a lead by the end of Saturday that was hard to overcome, but it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. It didn’t matter for those of us who love a Sunday full of singles matches – it’s when the gunslinger in everyone comes out. The first match of the day between Lexi Thompson and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden was halved. Then, Paula Creamer notched the first win in beating Georgia Hall of England. Cristie Kerr continued the winning ways against England’s Mel Reid. Europe got on track with Scottish golfer Catriona Matthews edging out Stacy Lewis France’s Karen Icher managed a draw with newcomer standout Angel Yin, and Europe got its second win with Caroline Masson besting Michelle Wie, 4 & 2. Lizette Salas pulled out her match with J. Ewart Shadoff of England with a one up victory, but Charley Hull, also from England, took one back from Brittany Lang. Europe took the next two with Carlota Ciganda of Spain over Brittany Lincicome, and Madelene Sagstrom over Austin Ernst, 3 & 2. By the time America’s Danielle Kang took care of Emily Pedersen with a 3 & 1 win, and Gerina Piller took out Florentyna Parker (also England), the day ran out of good luck for Europe.
For me, the whole story isn’t fully told by the win/loss column, or by the margin of victory. Like many here in the states, some of the European stars are among my favorite players, so some victories don’t bother me all that much as a competitive spectator. My favorite parts? For starters, picture Julie Inkster and Annika Sorenstam going full boogie on the fringes of the first tee, Sorenstam wearing a Wagnerian helmet for the occasion. You won’t generally see the men doing stuff like that. It isn’t cool. It looks too much like fraternizing with the enemy. However, we must not confuse testosterone with competitiveness. The women who play the Solheim want to win with every fiber of their being. Testosterone isn’t more competitive, just more warlike, and we have enough of that in the world. Leave it to Julie and Annika to make the golf wars fun.
Secondly, I’ve got to cite Paula Creamer as a major entertainment point for this and every other Solheim in which she has participated. She wasn’t even supposed to be there, but Jessica Korda withdrew from an injury, and suddenly, there was the pillar of Solheims past, ready to go at it again. The bottom line with Paula Creamer is that regardless of the year she’s having – great or so-so – the mere mention of the word ‘match’ brings out the ferocious in her. Creamer is among the most gritty and pernicious match players around, and I generally pity the opponent who draws her card. Match play for Creamer is like a full moon for a werewolf. She cleaned up twice on Saturday before sending Georgia Hall away on Sunday, dropping birdie putts at taking late holes like it was going out of style.
In the next version to be played in 2019, the Solheim Cup returns to Perthshire, Scotland, at Glen Eagles. That couldn’t be a better choice. Scotland and golf is always a good thing. Who knows? Maybe Inkster and Sorenstam will be in kilts with swords for that one.