The No. 1 player in the world. Seven more in the top 30. Home soil. European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew knows the stats and site, too. “I think on paper the Americans are always the stronger team,” she said a few weeks back.
Her third and fourth words are doing a lot of work.
“But 18 holes match play anyone can win, so I’m sure we’ll probably go in as the underdog, especially with it being an away game,” Matthew said. “As I said earlier, I think we are going to have a great team, a real mixture of some experienced players and some new, younger, exciting players. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Matthew’s not wrong. In match play, anyone can win. The Europeans did so over the Americans just two years ago in the last Solheim Cup. Their squad this year is, in fact, a mixture of experience and youth.
And she (and you) should be looking forward to it.
Here’s a look at the European Solheim Cup roster for the Saturday through Monday event that will be played at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Emily Kristine Pedersen: Pedersen, ranked No. 68 in the world, was arguably the hottest player in the sport for a stretch at the end of last year, with three straight victories on the Ladies European Tour. She’s played in one Solheim Cup, going 0-3-0 in 2017.
Georgia Hall: Hall, ranked No. 29, won the 2018 Women’s Open and tied for second at the event this year. She’s played in two Solheim Cups, going 6-3-0. And how did she get the name Georgia? According to a 2018 Golf Channel story, she was born on the Friday after Nick Faldo’s 1996 Masters victory, and her parents named her after their fellow Englishman.
Anna Nordqvist: Nordqvist, ranked No. 16, enters the event as women’s golf’s last winner, as she won the Women’s Open two weeks ago. She’s played in six Solheim Cups, going 12-9-2.
Sophia Popov: Popov, ranked No. 30, was one of the biggest stories in golf last year, when she broke through to win the Women’s Open. This is her Solheim Cup debut.
Charley Hull: Hull, ranked No. 39, holds the honor of being the youngest Solheim Cup player ever. In 2013, at the age of 17, she went 3-0, including defeating Paula Creamer in singles 5 and 4. Overall, she’s played in four Solheim Cups, going 9-3-3.
Carlota Ciganda: Ciganda, ranked No. 41, has won four times on the Ladies European Tour and twice on the LPGA Tour. She’s played in four Solheim Cups, going 6-6-4.
Leona Maguire: Maguire, ranked No. 43, becomes the first native of Ireland to play in a Solheim Cup. Matthew, in the press conference to announce her team, described Maguire this way: “I think she’s got that real grittiness. I think she’s a really good match player. Has a great record from the Curtis Cup and played well in the match play in Vegas. I think she’ll be a solid, one of these never-give-up-type players.”
Madelene Sagstrom: Sagstrom, ranked No. 46, tied for second at the Women’s Open, where during the final round, a seagull picked up her ball. (She was allowed to place her ball where she believed it originated.) She’s played in one Solheim Cup, going 1-2-0.
Matilda Castren: Castren, ranked No. 47, won her first LPGA Tour title in June, then won on the Ladies European Tour a month later, giving her LET status, a requirement for the European team.
Nanna Koerstz Madsen: Koerstz Madsen, ranked No. 48, was tied for the lead with one hole to play at the Women’s Open, then made double bogey and tied for fifth. This is her Solheim Cup debut.
Mel Reid: Reid, ranked No. 53, has won six times on the Ladies European Tour, then won for the first time on the LPGA Tour last October. She’s played in three Solheim Cups, going 4-6-2.
Celine Boutier: Boutier, ranked No. 65, has won twice on the Ladies European Tour and once on the LPGA Tour. She’s played in one Solheim Cup, going 4-0-0 in 2019.