CASARES, Spain — The Solheim Cup is upon us. For the primary time all week, each participant within the subject has their golf golf equipment on-site — shoutout to Danielle Kang — and pairings are beginning to take form at Finca Cortesin within the south of Spain.
Right here’s are 6 early happenings on the bottom.
1. The People are formally underdogs
For maybe the primary time within the historical past of the Solheim Cup, the People are underdogs. Now, Vegas would have you ever imagine that it’s a fair match, and it simply could be. However an essential a part of the psychological jockeying earlier than each main staff occasion — you’ll see it subsequent week at the Ryder Cup — is who will get to make use of the “underdog” title.
Chances are you’ll assume this an unimportant moniker nevertheless it helps determine how the ultimate outcomes are perceived. If the People win on the highway in opposition to a superior opponent, it’ll really feel like an extra-significant win forward of subsequent yr’s Cup again within the States.
European captain Suzann Pettersen began this discourse by declaring her staff the most effective European squad she’s seen in all her time across the Solheim Cup. Coming from the winningest participant in European Solheim historical past, that claims lots. Given the prospect to reign in expectations Wednesday, she doubled down, saying, “I don’t assume there’s something to cover underneath a chair that in the event you look on paper, we now have the strongest staff that I’ve ever been part of, and that’s primarily based on nice performances over the previous couple of years from all of the gamers.”
U.S. skipper Stacy Lewis pounced on the inverse, snatching the chance to be the plucky underdog nobody expects a lot from. “No, I feel Europe’s the favourite,” Lewis mentioned. “They’ve gained the final two, we’re on their soil, they’ve a fantastic staff that has a ton, a ton of expertise on this occasion. So that you have a look at historical past, you already know, it doesn’t bode effectively for us. However I really like our probabilities. I really like these rookies. I feel they’re going to have a fantastic week and hopefully shock lots of people.”
2. Spain WITH the S
The host of this week’s Solheim Cup, Spain’s Costa del Sol, may effectively be heaven. On one aspect of the automobile, jagged gray cliffs shoot into the heavens like skyscrapers. On the opposite, crystal blue waters are interrupted solely by white sand seashores that stretch on for miles. Spend a couple of minutes driving down the freeway and you’ll not surprise why half of Europe travels right here to trip.
Relaxation assured, it’s tempting to view this tiny slice of shoreline by the vacationland prism — however that, it appears, can be leaving out the most effective half: the golf.
Programs — about 15 of them — sprout from the earth each few miles from Malaga to Finca Cortesin and there’s no scarcity of selection in these choices. Some characteristic the furry detailing and haphazard bunkering unmistakable of an ephemerally public monitor; some, like this week’s Solheim Cup host, characteristic the finely manicured trappings of golf glory. However all share in the identical beautiful view, and the identical unbothered tempo of life.
We didn’t carry our sticks with us for this week’s journey into the south of Spain, and are already regretting that call. As soon as the great people of the golf world feast their eyes upon the wonder at Finca Cortesin and, Spain’s Costa del Sol — “Coast of the Solar” — may have a combating argument so as to add golf to that nickname.
3. Greatest opening Solheim/Ryder Cup gap ever?
Susceptible to exaggerating, we’re not well-versed in opening holes of Solheim and Ryder Cups. Principally, we simply know the buildouts of grandstands that tower behind the tee field and the thunderous noise that emanates from them as gamers start their matches.
However as for the precise golf holes themselves, this week’s could also be the most effective we’ve ever seen. On the scorecard, it’s a 280-yard par-4, which suggests it’s completely drivable for the longest ladies on the planet. We’re speaking about Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Linn Grant and Charley Hull — simply to call among the rivals who could attempt to drive the inexperienced this week.
“We’ve been speaking about this,” captain Pettersen mentioned Wednesday. “I don’t know if we’ve been attempting to put a method flat, as a result of for some folks it’s very approachable, for others it’s could be out of their attain to be comfy to go for the opening in a single or like go for the drivable par-4. So I feel you’re going to see each. I’ve simply informed the gamers, let’s discuss by this. As a result of, I imply, we had a drivable par-4 in 2017 in Des Moines which didn’t actually flip into the European favor.”
That gap in 2017 measured 306 yards on the scorecard, and gamers have solely gotten longer off the tee since then. However wind can be a significant factor within the method to kick-starting matches this week. The breeze was blowing straight into the tee Wednesday afternoon, making the 245-or-so-yard cowl a bit extra treacherous. Nonetheless, igniting a match like Bryson DeChambeau did on the 2021 Ryder Cup is within the playing cards.
4. The Bag Drop
The story of early Solheim Cup week has been the MIA golf equipment of Danielle Kang.
As appears to occur not less than as soon as a European-held match, the airways misplaced Kang’s gear en path to Spain, and for a time period on Tuesday believed they’d misplaced her golf equipment all collectively. Kang may solely watch her teammates apply on Tuesday as she waited for replacements to reach, hitting chips and some putts across the greens.
Fortunately, we had been happy to rise on Wednesday to phrase that Kang’s infants had been recovered (each the originals and the backups). And when U.S. staff captain Stacy Lewis stepped to the rostrum on Wednesday afternoon, she added yet one more twist to the restoration story.
As Lewis defined, the People wrangled the assistance of dozens of staffers to help within the nice golf membership rescue, coordinating with airways and staff to assist monitor them down.
“The variety of those that had been engaged on discovering that golf bag the final two days is astronomical,” she mentioned. “Danielle’s given us many hugs and thank yous. She was may be very appreciative.”
However the true kicker is the one that dragged the bag throughout the end line, actually, on behalf of staff USA.
“My dad truly went and picked it up for us,” Lewis mentioned with amusing. “So Dad will get the MVP of the week.”
5. Hills, hills and extra hills
They are saying you’ll by no means understand how hilly Augusta Nationwide is till you see it in particular person. Properly, you possibly can say the identical for Finca Cortesin. This can be a golf course the place you’ll need to take a cart, however gamers gained’t have that luxurious this week.
When requested in regards to the facet of the structure that will have stunned them, Cheyenne Knight instantly introduced up the undulation. “Individuals mentioned it was hilly,” she mentioned Wednesday, “nevertheless it’s undoubtedly hilly.”
The course is constructed into the slope of the Sierra Bermeja Mountain Vary, which runs alongside the bottom of Costa Del Sol, a string of seaside cities on the Alboran Sea. Sadly, for these within the competitors — and the numerous spectators anticipated to be in attendance — what goes down right here at Finca Cortesin should ultimately come again up.
Caroline Hedwall provided the strongest fact of the week in her press convention: “It’s a tricky stroll for everybody, particularly the caddies.”
6. Clowning round
It’s fairly exhausting to glean a lot of something from early-week press conferences at staff occasions. With members working in teams throughout press settings, most perception from captains and gamers is distilled into the identical cliches: “Properly, we don’t need to give all our secrets and techniques away…” and, “Yeah, I agree with what [previous speaker] mentioned…”
Fact is, a lot of the details about the state of the Solheim Cup, the matchups, and the technique will stay secret till the primary balls go into the air on Friday morning. However that doesn’t imply there’s nothing price studying from the early-week pressers. No, fairly the alternative.
This week marks one of many uncommon instances we see gamers discover past the insular world of solo-tournament golf. Which suggests it additionally marks one of many uncommon instances we hear an outsider’s perspective of their personalities, their aggressive idiosyncrasies and maybe, most notably, their capacity to take a joke.
If the early week is any indication, there’s already a runaway chief in these classes on the European aspect.
“I assume there’s just one Charley Hull enjoying this week, in the event you [want to] discuss in regards to the class clown,” Pettersen mentioned with a chuckle on Wednesday.
“I feel Charley’s the apparent alternative,” assistant captain Laura Davies agreed. “I don’t even assume she is aware of she’s humorous, however she might be the funniest particular person you’ll ever meet. She retains everybody on their toes.”
For the People, the reply seems to be equally as apparent: Angel Yin, who informed reporters Wednesday she wrangled her American teammates into shopping for a couple of undoubtedly actual $25 Louis Vuitton scarves from a avenue hawker.